It’s still summer for goodness sake! Why is everybody in your office dressed like it’s January? If everybody’s annoyed about your cold office, chances are you’re hearing a lot of under-the-breath grumbling and comments about working in a meat locker.
You should know that putting up with a little grumbling is the least of your problems. When your employees are uncomfortable, it costs you in all kinds of ways.
We’ll tell you how to fix the problem once and for all.
What your cold office is costing you
It may seem like just an inconvenience, but a cold office, store or restaurant can impact your bottom line before you know it. Here’s how:
Lower worker productivity. According to the International Facility Management Association, complaints about office temperature fluctuations are the #1 grievance expressed by office workers. When people are uncomfortable and stuck in a cold office, they are distracted from their duties, leading to increased mistakes and declines in productivity.
Spread of illness. Since office temperature fluctuations are so noticeable, you may not realize that the problem is frequently accompanied by humidity issues. When the air in your office is too humid, it can lead to dangerous mold growth and the spread of airborne contaminants like bacteria, viruses and other nasty microorganisms that cause illness. Before you know it, half the office will be out sick.
Lost customers and lost business. If your business relies on repeat customers, such as a restaurant or retail establishment, the comfort level of your space can make or break your business. Nobody wants to sit and relax with friends in a sweltering cafe, or try on clothing in an icy boutique. And when those disappointed customers share their experience on social media, your reputation and your profits will suffer.
7 tips to improve comfort in your cold office
Keeping up with the summer heat and humidity and keeping your space comfortable may be more than your air conditioning system can handle, especially if it hasn’t been regularly maintained. Here’s how to keep it working effectively and avoid those cold office issues.
1. Have your air conditioning system checked for repair issues
If you’re air conditioning system is not working like it should, it may be running constantly due to any one of these possible issues:
- Frozen evaporator coil
- Dirty condenser and/or evaporator coils
- Clogged filters
- Leaking refrigerant
- Faulty controls
- Blower motor or fan issues
- Air leaks
- Load changes and wrong-sized systems
All of these problems can cause your air conditioner to run constantly without shutting off when the thermostat reaches the set temperature. So that’s why your cold office has everyone wearing sweaters. Have your system inspected by an HVAC professional to get to the bottom of it.
Related article: Your Constantly Running AC is Trying to Tell You Something.
2. Check your ducts
A cold office is frequently caused by air flow issues that arise when your ventilation system is impeded. You may have cracks or holes in the ducts as a result of a faulty installation, or even the presence of rodents. An accumulation of dust and debris in the ducts can also be the culprit. Have them inspected by an HVAC professional.
Related article: Crippling Air Conditioning Problems Caused By Poor Air Flow.
3. Adjust your building automation settings
A simple review of the system controls may reveal adjustments that will help your equipment run more efficiently, preventing those cold spots.
4. Create cooling zones
In some cases, your cold office problem can be caused by different cooling requirements in different parts of your office that are all controlled as a single zone. For example, the perimeter of a large floor near the windows will need more cooling than the interior.
If the thermostat is in the perimeter, especially near a window with sun pouring in, the interior could be getting much more cooling than it needs. the result? A cold office. The solution is to set up multiple cooling zones to tailor the settings to the needs of each space. Consult your HVAC professional for advice.
5. Keep out the heat
Be sure to use blinds or shades to block the sun from coming in through east, west and south-facing windows. This one may seem counter-intuitive. Why block the heat when you already have a cold office? It makes sense when you think about it: your thermostat is probably located in one of those warm spots in the sun, or even under a warm light. So it’s running more than it needs to, making other parts of the office too cold. While you’re installing the blinds, also think about switching to cooler lighting options such as LED.
6. Re-evaluate your system design
Have you changed the office layout without updating the ventilation? Or changed the usage of the space? If so, have an HVAC expert evaluate your system to see if ducts need to be relocated or additional air handlers added.
7. Don’t neglect air conditioning maintenance
Many of the causes of cold office problems can be fixed with HVAC preventive maintenance. Here’s how:
- Your technician will replace or clean air filters and check for any other blockages that are preventing air from flowing through the system.
- Fan blades will be cleaned, speed adjusted if needed, and motors inspected for proper operation.
- Your tech can check the condition of the ducts and look for leaks.
- If you have recently replaced HVAC equipment or changed the usage of the space without updating the ventilation, ask your technician for an evaluation of your ductwork. A few small changes can sometimes make a big difference in temperature variation.
Related article: Air Conditioning Maintenance Doesn’t Cost. It Pays.
If office temperature fluctuations are causing you to get hot under the collar, grab a copy of our free guide for more details: Improving an Imperfect World: Mitigating Office Temperature Extremes.