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Ask an Engineer: Workplace Temperature Settings

"What office temperature setting will optimize energy savings and productivity?"

A temperature setting of 68°F is often recommended to maximize energy savings in the workplace. This setting can reduce heating costs dramatically compared to a more traditional setting of 73°F. Studies have shown a relationship between worker productivity and building temperature, however, so you may want to consider this before making any thermostat adjustments.

What the research says

A study by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that worker performance increases with temperatures up to 72°F, and decreases with temperatures above 73°F. The highest productivity was at a temperature of around 72°F. A Helsinki University study concluded that performance decreases by 0.4 percent for each 1°F temperature change above or below 72°F.

A setting of 72°F appears to be the sweet spot for optimizing productivity, even though it may be less energy efficient than 68°F. Remember, however, lower productivity can cost you as well. Assuming an average annual salary of $40,000, a 2 percent loss in productivity is about $800 per employee.

It's important to find the right balance. People vary in comfort levels, so you may need to experiment with thermostat adjustments to find temperature settings that will conserve energy while matching the needs of your staff.

Your indoor environment

Ventilation and relative humidity also impact worker productivity. Improper ventilation and high humidity levels can result in poor indoor air quality, which can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues. By maintaining a constant supply of fresh air and a relative humidity level of about 50 percent, you can have a healthier, more productive staff.


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