Friday, November 30, 2012

Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit viewpoint for consumers



 It is possible that you're here simply because you are concerned about your indoor climate. So have a look at the instrumentation inside the vehicle. This photograph by LumaSense, is one of various types of test set-ups which help automotive manufactures to determine exactly how you thermally feel inside their products.
Do you notice the way manufactures have improved upon  the windows, they offer heated (and now cooled seating), put zoning controls in the front and back, made the interiors more sound proof, and the air of greater quality? These features came after doing intensive "human factor" based research. The results are being used to make the best interior environment for your driving enjoyment.

So here is the million dollar question for everyone...

Exactly why would you be happy to invest hundreds of thousands of one's dollars (incredibly more than the cost of your new car or truck) into a house where you and your family will spend almost all of your own time and you don't really know whether you will be comfortable in it or not? Do you see contractors doing thermal comfort research? Why not? Do your own homework and see the way many many people in the different heating and cooling chat rooms are trying to solve thermal comfort problems with many people who likely created many of the problems to begin with. Our favourite site for entertainment is the GardenWeb heating and cooling forum...have a look - scroll through the current and past threads and observe an entire population trying to fix problems and make decisions on stuff with folks who have good intentions but many of them couldn't define the elements of thermal comfort even if their licenses depended on it.

Understand, the health of the indoor climate has an impact on you and your families health. If your determination on your interior environment is not based on science...exactly whose sales pitch are you relying on...those who want your money? Really? Gather around folks while we have a heart to heart about you and your shopping experience for thermal comfort.
As odd as it seems, people take more time exploring pet food, beds and linens, or sports and audio equipment then they do their own interior environments. If consumers actually treated their investment in their indoor climate like shopping for cosmetic surgeons they'd end up with much better results...anyways, the car or truck manufacturers know and care about your physiological and psychological comfort and it shows by their research and the introduction of healthy and comfortable features and benefits.

So you Jack and Jill from the university of hard knocks maybe with a degree or two behind your name, have you yet questioned the contractors or renovators just how much formalized thermal comfort research have they done while building to the very least allowable standards in North America affectionately named the, "Building Codes"? No? Pity.

How about the heating and air conditioning sub trades and their suppliers...you are going to give them a check representing your hard earned money in exchange for an undetermined indoor climate? Have you questioned them? What specialised schooling they have on human physiology and psychology as it relates to thermal comfort...after all it'll be a real live human being (that would be you) that will complain. No? We aren't surprised since human factors are not included in heating, ventilation & a/c nor building design educational curriculums - go figure.

As bizarre as it sounds, if you are like the majority of educated consumers you have bought into a hook, line and sinker on code based hvac "comfort" systems without doing the same exact level of research that likely earned you your first diploma or degree.
Exactly why do we know this?

Because like the visitors of on-line heating, ventilation & a/c chat forums, consumers who shop for thermal comfort almost always gravitate to discussions about heating and cooling products and systems rather than hitting the books on thermal comfort and human physiology which is what the automobile manufacturers did - you see the boys and girls in the automobile design business get it...the building profession (still) doesn't get it. 

Remember grandpa's saying, "if all you carry in your pouch is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well a large segment of the field only carries a hammer and tries to solve every thermal comfort problem with products and mechanical systems without understanding the real problems. As an example, we have pointed out in several articles that the majority in field see heating and cooling as an "air based" problem when the root of the problem in our opinion is a surface temperature problem. I have stated in several publication that if building codes dropped the reference to controlling air temperatures and switched the requirements to controlling mean radiant temperature, building performance specifications would have to change overnight. Ok enough of that - let's get back to you and your shopping for thermal comfort...

So look, there are a lot of  people way smarter than us - you are likely one of them - but even we can see that the public relations, marketing and sales machine have convinced most of  the brightest and wealthiest people on the continent that comfort is a piece of mechanical product or it comes from the bling adorning the house interior. As University of Toronto Professor Ted Kesik has said, “No profession that I know of provides so little factual information to the consumers of its product…”

Just look around you, in the magazines, at the shopping mall at the show homes...everybody does it, but very few really put comfort into scientific terms...you can buy a comfort heating system from a comfort specialist, sit in a comfortable chair, walk on comfortable flooring, wear comfortable clothes all under comfortable lighting and calming music but yet still feel hot, dry, damp, clammy and cold...what's up with that?

Here is the thing...other than the many people we've trained, the majority of S & M folks (sales and marketing) selling stuff for your personal house can't advise you about true human thermal comfort. You can test them yourself...study the article we did originally for Dr. A. Bailes III from Energy Vanguard on thermal comfort then with your knowledge go ask the S & M crowd selling thermal comfort to define it and see what happens.

So precisely why do most people selling thermal comfort services and products not understand what thermal comfort is?

Hold on for it....because they don't have to...you with the intelligence and check book come to them pre-programmed to buy the bottom in "built to code heating vetilation & a/c systems" so you can spend more money on the building bling. It's correct...Americans spend more money on outdoor furniture, hardware, house appliances, pets and cosmetics than they do on the very interior climates they constantly complain about...we like to say customers had been swiped by the "poo and goo machines" by the money they spend on fifi, fido and cosmetic lotions and creams...and let's be honest - the heating, ventilation & a/c field is pathetic at marketing against the big bling machines...and its tough because what we have to offer is unseen. Now on the other hand, if you were to listen to the health and building scientists they'd inform you to pay attention to the unseen...yes its abstract but we're talking about your physiological and psychological well being and they know about that stuff.

Precisely why?

Well...because they've been researching it formally ever since the late 19th century. They even have fancy instruments to evaluate you and your interior spaces just as the automobile manufacturers have done. The great news is out of this science based studies have emerged the interior environment engineer working with thermal comfort standards to form the optimal thermal environment for you and yours.

Wait a minute you might say...thermal comfort standards - huh?

Are you surprised to hear there are in fact 'thermal comfort standards'? Yes? Well they have been published as early as 1966 but don't feel concerned - you're not alone, almost all veterans in the building field have no idea they exist either.
So exactly why doesn't the building field know about thermal comfort standards?
Well hold on for it (again)....because they don't have to know...and since you with the intelligence and check book don't come pre-programmed to ask to see their thermal comfort research proving their indoor climates meet the interior environment standards - they'll never know (drum roll) if you don't ask...and if you do ask - don't be surprised to get the same cocky look you get from your dressed to the nines pooch wearing the pretty pink pet pullover.

That's why it is so important that you do your research in regards to your new house or renovation - it's your money and your determination best places to invest it...we could hope from this point on in you are going to do the necessary research to really understand what it takes to make you thermally comfortable.

2 comments:

Steve Dune said...

It was a helpful post related to heating and cooling stuff. I liked it.

Steve Dune said...
This comment has been removed by the author.