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What is the 'perfect' air-con temperature? Spanish sources advise
02 August 2020 @ 20:36

AROUND a decade ago, a law was brought into force setting minimum and maximum air-conditioning temperatures year-round – before then, it was fairly common, when popping out on a day when it was over 40ºC in the shade, to take a thick cardigan with you to put on in shops and bars.

In some countries, 'air-con wars' can be among the biggest sources of office conflict – and it has, in fact, caused friction in Alicante city hall this week, when Podemos councillor Vanesa Romero said the too-cold temperature set was 'an example of everyday sexism'.

She may have a point, however, despite some of the male councillors on right-wing parties mocking her: Several scientific studies, including research published by the professional journal Nature, have proven that product design has historically had a male bias, and air-conditioning is no exception – the report reveals how this godsend gadget was originally developed in the 1960s, a time when women even throughout the western world were considered inferior, and was based upon temperatures at which a man aged on average 40 and weighing 70 kilos (about 11st 4lb) felt comfortable indoors.

Women's body temperatures are habitually lower, although tend to rise around the time of the menopause, when even men could be buttoning up their jackets as women strip off and fan themselves – although even then, finding a balance that meets with ethical requirements of 'thermal equality' can be difficult.

Several Spanish organisations have given their views – not just on what is comfortable, but what is healthy.

One of these is the leading consumer affairs group, the OCU, which says air-con temperatures should be approximately 5ºC lower than those outside.

This does not mean setting your air-conditioning to 35ºC when it's 40ºC outside, of course. When it's extremely hot and humid – like at the moment, with Spain officially going through what the Met office defines as a heatwave – an indoor temperature of between 24ºC and 26ºC is low enough to keep cool without racking up a huge electricity bill.

Whilst this type of temperature would leave most people sweating profusely in winter, the reason for the apparently high figure is not to create too much of a contrast with the heat outside, since rapid and constant air temperature changes can cause minor illnesses.



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