A lot of folks get fixated on the number on the thermometer or thermostat. But, to be honest, temperature is really just a number. Ask anyone who’s traveled throughout the country and you’ll quickly learn that a 90 degree summer day in Las Vegas feels a lot different than a 90 degree day in Atlanta. While temperature or thermostat readings certainly give us a good idea of what our environment might feel like, there are a number of other factors that affect our comfort. If you’re thinking that 70 degrees doesn’t feel quite right in your home, you may want to consider other things that influence how you actually feel.
HUMIDITY: The Vegas vs. Atlanta example above is a reference to humidity and how it can make warm temperatures feel even warmer. Conversely, humidity also makes cold temperatures feel even colder. Interior humidity can really have an impact on comfort. If air conditioners are cycling through extreme on/off cycles and/or if equipment is oversized and working harder then it needs to, there’s little chance for a house to de-humidify. So, in June and July in the eastern part of the U.S. folks may find themselves feeling cool and clammy indoors, especially if they’re running the air inconsistently. The best chance at lowering indoor humidity is to run a consistent heating or cooling cycle- without a lot of fluctuation- and to ensure that the equipment you’re using isn’t overwhelming for the space.
NATURAL DIFFERENTIALS: Ever hear the term, “heat rises”? Well, there’s scientific proof of that! Colder air is denser and so it tends to sink. Hotter air has expanding gases, so it’s less dense and has a natural tendency to rise. Inside a multi-story home, there can be really vast differences in temperature between the bottom and top floors. The thermostat may read 70 on the first floor, but it can feel closer to 90 degrees upstairs in the summertime. Distribution systems need to account for this. Ductwork should be sealed properly and distribution must be carefully planned to ensure temperature consistency throughout the home. In addition, don’t forget about the importance of insulation. Keeping air inside- especially the air you’re heating or cooling- gives you the best chance to achieve a comfortable environment.
AIR QUALITY: Unclean air is going to feel a bit heavier and even a little stagnant. If you’ve ever been in thick smog or smoky air on a humid day, you’ve experienced an extreme example of this. Indoor air quality is vital to good health and comfort. People with allergies and breathing issues need to rely on clean air indoors. Changing filters regularly can help. There are also filtration devices and even ultraviolet bulbs that can assist in mitigating pollutants and bacteria in the air.
SURFACES/MATERIALS: Certain surfaces will naturally absorb or reflect cold and heat. Concrete, for example, tends to retain its coldness. A home built on a slab will have floors that always run about 6-8 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. When floors are cold, people tend to feel cooler as well. Asphalt, on the other hand, absorbs and radiates heat. Stand in a parking lot on a hot day- for even just a few minutes- and you’ll feel the effects of this. When it comes to interior comfort, it’s important to work with the existing surfaces and materials. If your home is built on a slab and you live in a colder part of the country, you should consider floor heating to ensure overall comfort in the winter. If your home has a lot of windows, you need to take into account that heat can be magnified as it enters the home and, during cold days, the windows will actually project interior and body heat outside. Also, walls adjoining garages and attic spaces can absorb and radiate cold or heat, depending upon what they’re made of. If you have problems maintaining consistent temperature indoors, you should really take a look at the surfaces and finishes of walls and floors.
If you’re not really feeling comfortable in your home, even when the temperature on the thermostat says you should, please reach out to the experts at Unique Indoor Comfort. We can help you assess what might be affecting your comfort and help you take steps to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your indoor heating and cooling.