Researchers find Americans set their thermostat to match African environmental temperatures

thermostat
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A team of researchers at North Carolina State University has found that people living in the United States tend to set their thermostats to temperatures that mimic natural environmental conditions in parts of Africa. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study, which involved installing sensors in homes across the U.S., and what they found.

In their paper, the researchers note that they did not start out looking to match indoor air indoor environments with natural environmental conditions—that came later. Their original intent was to learn more about the creatures that exist in homes along with people—microbes, insects, rodents, etc. They wanted to know if their numbers varied depending on the indoor climate. To find out, they asked people living in 37 homes across the U.S. to set up a sensing device in their house. The devices took and humidity readings every hour for a year—at the end of the year, the sensors were sent back to the researchers who analyzed the data they recorded.

The researchers found that the lowest average temperatures came to 8 degrees C (generally at night, when people turn down thermostats) and the highest mean maximum was 36 degrees C. The researchers then split up Earth into half a degree longitude and latitude in size, and plugged in actual average temperatures for each cell. They compared the averages for homes in the U.S. with their cell data and found that people in the U.S. set the environmental conditions inside their homes in a way that very nearly matches in western Kenya and other parts of eastern Africa. They noted that in Kenya also tend to be quite dry, similar to the U.S. They further noted that Kenya and nearby areas are believed to be the places where first appeared on the planet. They conclude by suggesting that modern humans are setting their thermostats to give them roughly the same climate they were exposed to during the period when they had no control over the weather. It is apparently the climate in which we are still most comfortable.


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Turning up the temperature on indoor comfort

More information: Michael G. Just et al. Human indoor climate preferences approximate specific geographies, Royal Society Open Science (2019). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180695
Journal information: Royal Society Open Science

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Citation: Researchers find Americans set their thermostat to match African environmental temperatures (2019, March 20) retrieved 26 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-americans-thermostat-african-environmental-temperatures.html
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Mar 20, 2019
We probably stayed quite a lot in W. Kenya if we still remember the weather there.

Mar 20, 2019
"37 homes across the US"? Is that a large enough sample for this study?

Mar 20, 2019
probably all they could get funding for.
think of how dispersed an area that covers. Do you know three dozen, widely-spread people in a multitude of communities
& economic levels?

The big, flashy, fancy technology is very expensive.
Sometimes innovations, large & small, can come out of very modest circumstances.

Mar 20, 2019
36 C is 96.8 degrees F. I think they meant 26 C.

Mar 20, 2019
Upshot of the article: Human beings prefer being comfortably warm to being cold. And in yet another discovery, hungry people prefer to eat rather than continue being hungry.

Mar 20, 2019
I very, very quickly skimmed the published paper. It appears to compare modern temperatures in these homes with current temperatures in other areas of the world rather than modern temperatures with those expected in areas such as Kenya when moderns humans are first supposed to have arisen.

I'm not quite certain how any conclusions about evolution or origin can be drawn under such circumstances. If anyone has time to read the paper carefully and I am incorrect, please post.

Mar 20, 2019
We probably stayed quite a lot in W. Kenya if we still remember the weather there.

We probly wintered there....
But now, it's probly cheaper than actually moving there year round.
I mean - think of the AC bill for 12 month period...

Mar 20, 2019
@Why: You have to remember Africa is quite a high place. It's a huge plateau at high altitude, which means it is not necessarily very warm. Some places in Africa are cooler than some places in Europe during the summer.

Mar 20, 2019
36 C is 96.8 degrees F. I think they meant 26 C.


It is more likely that the people set their thermostat high for unoccupied summer days. I have been in homes where very elderly people will have their heat set high enough to force everyone else out, but they were also not mentally well. A study needs to take into account young, elderly and the middle-aged, but not the ill or mentally ill.

Mar 20, 2019
Duplicate.

Mar 20, 2019
Duplicate.

Mar 20, 2019
How stupid is this information, find the average high and low temperature the typical human likes, then scour the globe till you find a region with the same high and low natural temperatures, well hell I will take a couple of million in government grants to do that research.

Mar 20, 2019
You never know anything until you ask, and you never know when you may want to know something.

All knowledge is useful to someone, eventually.

Mar 21, 2019
@Why: You have to remember Africa is quite a high place. It's a huge plateau at high altitude, which means it is not necessarily very warm. Some places in Africa are cooler than some places in Europe during the summer
Of course, if you really wanted to know the climate of kenya, you could just google it.
https://www.clima...te/kenya

-instead of, you know, guessing.

Mar 21, 2019
Its not only the temperature you _prefer_. It is also the temperature you can _afford_ to pay the bill for it.

I suspect that those american homes can afford to pay the bill. Plus, they also have a culture of wasting resources.

Mar 21, 2019
The amount of temperature variation in homes depends on how much money the people need to save and how well insulated their homes are. If you're rich enough, you set the thermostat to 22 C and your expensive HVAC system keeps it there come wildfires or nuclear winter. These people may be very uncomfortable in their leaky drafty homes, or they have to suffer higher temperatures because they can't afford to run the AC. Humidity is especially hard to control.

37 households is too small a sample to be representative.

Modern day Kenya doesn't have the exact same climate as it had a million years ago. Ice ages have come and gone.

Mar 21, 2019
Of course, if you really wanted to know the climate of kenya, you could just google it.
https://www.clima...te/kenya

-instead of, you know, guessing.


Way to miss the point: there's multiple climates within Kenya, on top of the fact that the modern day Kenya isn't the same as it was hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Taking the average over an entire country gives you such a large area that it can have everything from tropics to deserts, which makes the argument like putting one foot in a bucket of dry ice, another foot into a boiling kettle, and calling it "comfortable on average".

Mar 22, 2019
Way to miss the point: there's multiple climates within Kenya
-which was the point of my posting the link to a website which says exactly that. Which you would have known if you had just clicked.

I know - you enjoy making stuff up too and getting it wrong.

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