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How THERMAL COMFORT
affects us

Thermal Comfort logo - Comfort From Every Angle

Find out more about the clever ways that human bodies
react to changes in temperatures...

THE PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECT

Human bodies are thermal engines that generate and dissipate energy – creating a constant heat exchange with the environment, whether we’re outdoors or indoors.

Cartoon of people at different termperatures

Just one person seated in a mildly heated room generates about 100 watts of energy, for example, which explains why fully occupied theatres or very well insulated houses usually don’t require any additional heating.

Human body different thermal zones

These sensors strive to balance our heat exchanges with the environment, by speeding up or slowing down our heartbeat to modify our blood flow and regulate heat distribution. We achieve this by shivering when we’re too cold in order to increase heat production, or by sweating more when we’re too hot to improve heat dissipation.

Blood flow & how it affects temperature

A comfortable indoor environment limits the efforts our bodies need to make to regulate body temperature, establishing a good energy balance.

THE PHYSICAL ASPECT

In the physical environment, heat or cold is transferred through conduction, radiation and convection.

Different thermal sources in home

In the physical environment, heat or cold is transferred through conduction, radiation and convection.

Conduction is energy transfer via a solid, such as the floor or wall. Convection is energy transfer from a solid to an adjacent gas or fluid (air or water). And radiation is the energy emitted from a surface, such as a radiator.

In our body’s perception of the physical environment around us, all four of these phenomena come into play:

Thermal transfer from the enviroment
Thermal transfer from the enviroment

Through air movement

Thermal transfer from the enviroment

Through direct contact with a surface
(walking barefoot or touching walls)

Thermal transfer from the enviroment

Through exposure to radiated sources of heat or cold,
such as sunshine, a fireplace or surface

Thermal transfer from the enviroment

Through breathing the ambient air in and out

Our choice of clothes can, of course, help our bodies to feel more comfortable within certain environments, and different physical activities also have an impact. Sawing wood, for example, produces three times as much heat as surfing the web, which itself produces twice as much heat as sleeping.

Clothing impacts on termperature

Our bodies are so attuned to detecting the slightest variations in temperature that, even if the overall environment is well balanced, local phenomena can cause physical discomfort.

Unwanted draughts, vertical air temperature differences between our head and ankles, radiant asymmetry (when one side of our body receives more heat radiation than the other), and a floor temperature that is too hot or cold, can all affect our feeling of wellbeing.

Thermal dissipation

Having said this, studies do show that some variations in the thermal environment are important to remain healthy and keep our bodies alert.

Discover even more...

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