Outdoor Weather and Your Air Conditioner: How to Achieve Optimal Comfort
Sunny, rainy, gloomy, hot or cold – is anyone else confused when the weather changes? The main problem with traditional ACs is that they only allow setting a single temperature, foregoing other crucial factors that may significantly affect how we feel. According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), aside from temperature, all of these components make up our thermal comfort: Indoor Humidity, Thermal Radiation (Sunlight) and Time of Day. Different combinations and levels of each factor create a shift in our environment, and ultimately in how we feel. Another super important factor that isn’t officially on ASHRAE’s list but is definitely a big player, is Outdoor Weather; it’s easy to overlook this one, as it seems so simple, but you probably don’t know how crucial it is!
How come outdoor weather affects us so much?
While, as we mentioned, weather is not officially one of the ASHRAE factors, it has been found to have the highest “average” impact if you combine outdoor humidity & outdoor temperature!
Weather plays a part in both naturally ventilated buildings and air-conditioned ones, affecting our behavior, physical comfort and of course, our homes or workplaces; weather will determine how active we are, what we wear, the actions we take at home to feel cooler/warmer, the physiological changes our bodies will undergo and exactly how we will use our air conditioner or other methods to adapt. For our home, varying temperatures and humidity levels – from soaring in the Summer to crazy lows in Winter – pose an array of issues, both in safety and energy waste.
With global warming on the rise, weather has become even more unpredictable and prone to fluctuation – seasons tend to mix up, extreme temperatures are prevalent and a thing of the norm, and we often see it in other forms as well: super high or super low humidity, sudden rain, hail & other natural occurrences.
Why do different people feel different under the same weather conditions?
While it’s clear that each person senses and experiences different environments in their own unique way, we can understand it better by splitting into 2 categories: biological and circumstantial.
Genetics and biology play a huge role – some of us are just more prone to feel hot or cold – whether because of our genetic makeup, body shape/composition or simply because we are male or female! For instance, women typically feel colder than men, since their metabolic rate is lower and core temperature is higher.
On top of that, we may have physiological preferences, habits or lifestyle choices that affect how we feel our surroundings – one person’s experience is most likely to be completely different than someone else’s! The place we grew up in, the climate we are accustomed to, our activity level and our personal sensitivity to varying factors can all make us feel hot while others are comfortable, or maybe cooler while someone else is sweating through their shirt.
What can we do to cope with changing weather conditions and maintain our comfort?
There are several ways to deal with or tone down, the great effect outdoor weather may have on our bodies – we can split these into 3 categories as well: natural ways, short-term actions, and long-term actions.
Based on the Adaptive Comfort Approach, the human body can adapt to different environments by undergoing several physiological or natural processes which are adjustment mechanisms; our skin temperature can change, we can acclimatize to a new environment over time, we may sweat more or less (evaporation) and our heart rate can adjust to help regulate our body temperature. In the winter, for instance, our heart rate will actually increase to help keep us warm!
There are also quick actions we can perform to keep up with changing conditions: wearing less or more layers, eating or drinking specific things or doing a certain activity to keep warm, for instance; adjusting blinds or curtains at home can also help – if it’s super warm try keeping blinds closed so that less sunlight and heat enter the room.
On top of the methods mentioned above, technology has graced us with several solutions to ease our discomfort – using cooling or heating devices such as air conditioners, heat pumps, various heaters, and fans are is great to help keep our bodies in check and work “hand in hand” with the weather outside – reducing the need to bundle up or jump into an ice bath if we’re feeling super uncomfortable! It’s no wonder the AC is considered one of the most important inventions of the 20th century…
How can our air conditioner balance the effects of weather on our home and comfort?
We know what you’re thinking – of course I’m going to use my air conditioner to feel comfy! What else? But is it as easy as it seems to just go ahead and turn it on, counting on it to always do the job in the best way? Different climates, seasons or people will always call for different set-point temperatures, and moreover – a constant and well-calculated mechanism to adjust the AC to account for weather changes as well as other varying factors.
In order to optimize how you feel at home and balance the environment, you would usually need to adjust your air conditioner throughout the day. Unfortunately, as we are limited in knowing exactly what settings to use, our actions would be more of a guessing game than a foolproof solution, since our old-school AC is also limited in what it can provide.
When looking to enhance and maintain comfort while also saving energy, we have to find a more intelligent way to consider the outdoor weather and adjust our air conditioner – thus removing the hassle and improving the whole process; this can be done simply by looking into a Smart Home solution in the form of a smart AC remote controller, which can upgrade your existing AC and inject it with some smarts. Different controllers will have different features and benefits, but a good idea is to look for one that will be able to learn what is unique to your comfort while taking into account all factors: weather, humidity, sunlight, time of day and finally, also temperature. This way, you’ll always be covered, no matter what curveball the weather throws at you.