Internal humidity management thanks you for freezing

I’ve always hated and been baffled by buildings that run air conditioning very cold when it is very hot outside. Maybe the blast of cold air feels relieving for a moment, but then, pure misery. Fear of constantly encountering cranked up AC is one of the reasons I stick to the parts of the San Francisco Bay Area that never get very hot (more or less that means SF and the parts of the East Bay that are west of the hills). Having recently spent a week in the Midwest, then a week in DC, this is on my mind. (I also hate very hot buildings when it is very cold outside, but I only recall experiencing this once, in Minneapolis.)

Perhaps my bafflement should be lessened, having just read the following (emphasis added):

As my building engineer friends tell me, keeping a balance of heat and humidity in a building is the challenge for which the technology is built (and is, incidentally, why so many commercial buildings feel so cold in the summer — they are in part setting an internal temperature that helps them manage internal humidity).

Is that true? Even if it is, doesn’t help me feel less miserable. Surely there must be a better way. It seems billions more people will regularly experience AC over the next decades. I hope for the sake of the fraction who, like me, hate differences between indoor and outdoor climate much greater than necessary for comfort, and perhaps for conserving energy, that commercial buildings worldwide don’t have to be frigid.

2 Responses

  1. I seem to recall you are rather lacking in terms of body fat. I suspect this may help explain finding it harder to maintain a comfortable body temperature in cold AC than those with a couple of inches of blubber.

    However, I agree that the temperature difference between indoors & outdoors should not be so great that people must pack a secondary wardrobe (swimsuit/skisuit) – unless this is expected, e.g. a sauna or cold store.

  2. Crosbie, yep.

    Also, I just noticed

    “Hong Kong is infamous for its hot and humid summers. Air-conditioning in buildings is therefore very effective and acts like a refrigerator, especially in big shopping malls. We urge you bring a jacket, to be put on indoors to cope with sudden temperature changes.”

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