When you think about thermal comfort, chances are air temperature may be the first thing that comes to mind. The temperature of the air around us plays a large role in how comfortable we feel. However, there are other things that can affect our personal comfort level.
Temperature As a Thermal Comfort
Although temperature is not the only influence to thermal comfort, it does play a large role in two different ways. First, there is the actual temperature of the air surrounding us. Second, the concept of thermal radiation factors in. In order to understand this, think about how comfortable it can be to sit next to a fireplace in a chilly room. The combination of the air temperature and radiant heat add up to our overall perception of the warmth or coolness of the environment around us.
Humidify As a Thermal Comfort
Humidity also plays a big role in thermal comfort. For example, a hot day can seem even more stifling and oppressive if the humidity level is also high. Likewise, a very hot day might seem comfortable if the humidity level is low. The level of humidity within the air around us determines how quickly perspiration can evaporate from our skin. When the air is already laden with a lot of moisture, perspiration evaporates much more slowly. This slower level of evaporation inhibits our body’s natural cooling system.
In addition to the environment around us, there are also some things about each of us personally that can either help or hinder our level of thermal comfort. Proper clothing can play a large role. For example, think about how unbearable it would be to wear a wooly sweater on a hot day, but how comfortable that same sweater would be on a cold day. Likewise, a short-sleeved shirt would be a great choice for a hot summer day, but would cause you to be uncomfortable if you were outside in the cold.
Finally, our level of physical activity definitely factors into whether we feel comfortable, too hot, or too cold. The same physical labor that can help keep us warm on a cold day can make us feel overheated on a hot summer day. Additionally, each of us has a personal level of metabolism that must be taken into consideration. Even if temperature and humidity levels are the same, one person may feel too hot, while another person may feel too cold.
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