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This is the best aircon temperature for South African offices

Business Insider SA
  • Aircon temperatures are often a contentious issue in offices.
  • Often, genders and generations are pit against each other when it comes to the temperature settings.
  • According to a large property company, their building managers agree that 22 degrees Celcius is the ideal temperature to avoid conflict.
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As summer temperatures climb across South Africa, debates about the aircon also heat up in offices around the country.

Often, the genders and generations are pit against each other when it comes to the temperature settings.

“Females specifically usually prefer one degree higher temperature than males for all ages,” George Vicatos, an associate professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Cape Town, tells Business Insider SA.

“Employees older than 50 years also prefer one degree higher temperatures than the younger ones, regardless of the gender.”

According to guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), office temperatures can range between 22 and 28 degrees, with humidity between 40% and 60%, Vicatos says. 

In South Africa, the ideal temperature for offices seems to be 22 degrees Celsius, according to a property group with 70 commercial buildings. This is the consensus among the building managers in the group.

But while you are looking for 22 degrees, you may have to set your thermostat slightly lower, or higher.

"Because different aircons have different outputs, the temperature can vary by 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Michael Dickinson, project manager at Rabie Property group, told Business Insider South Africa.

See also: Open plan offices are killing our productivity — here's how to fix it

For those who do not find the temperature comfortable, the best recommendation is to either wear a jersey or something cooler, says Theo Mac Simlah, facility manager at the Media24 building in the Cape Town foreshore.

“This is normally a very contentious issue in all buildings, but best practice is somewhere between 21 to 24 degrees Celsius,” Simlah says. 

Employers often forget that humidity plays as big a role to create a comfortable office environment as temperature, he says. 

Typical relative humidity in Cape Town is 77%, and in Durban it is 79% – but in Johannesburg it is only 60%.

Gary Prescott, a heating and air conditioning engineer responsible for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s 3,000 aircons - and who has worked with aircons for over 23 years – says employers have to stop trying to keep everyone happy with aircon temperatures. 

“The only way that is going to happen is if people worked in individual offices where each person have control over their own temperature,” Prescott says. 

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