are likely here because you care about your indoor
climate. So take a look at the instrumentation inside
This photo lent to us by
is one of
several types of test set-ups which better
automobile manufactures employ to determine how you
might thermally feel inside their products.
Have you noticed how manufactures
have improved their windows, offer heated (and now cooled seats), put zoning controls in the front and back, made the interiors more sound proof, and the air of better
quality? These features came after doing
"human factor" based research. The results are being used to create the ideal
indoor climate for your driving pleasure.
So here's the million dollar question for you the educated consumers...
Why would you be willing to invest hundreds of thousands of your dollars (way more than the price of your new car or liposuction) into a home where you
and your family will spend most of your time and
you don't really know whether you will be comfortable in it or not?
Do you see builders doing thermal comfort research? Why
not? Do your own homework and see how many people in the
chat rooms are trying to solve thermal comfort problems
with people who likely created many of the problems to begin
with. Our favourite site for entertainment is the
GardenWeb HVAC forum...have a look - scroll through
the current and past threads and observe an entire
population trying to fix problems and make decisions on
stuff with people who have good intentions but many of
define the elements of thermal comfort
even if their
licenses depended on it.
Understand, the health of the indoor
environment has an impact on you and your families
health. If your decision on your indoor climate
is not based on science...exactly whose sales pitch are
you relying on...those who want your money? Really?
Gather around folks while we have a heart to heart about
you and your shopping experience for thermal comfort.
As odd as it seems, people spend more time researching
pet food, beds and linens, or sports and audio equipment then they do their own
indoor environment. If consumers actually treated their investment in
their indoor climate like shopping for cosmetic surgeons they would end up with much better results...anyways, the car manufacturers know and care about your physiological and psychological comfort
and it shows by their
and the introduction of healthy and comfortable features and benefits.
So you Jill and Jack from the school of
hard knocks maybe with a degree or two behind your name,
have you yet asked the builders or renovators how much
formal thermal comfort research have they done while
building to the lowest allowable standards in North
America affectionately called the, "Building
Codes"? No? Pity.
How about the HVAC sub trades and their
suppliers...you are going to give them a cheque
representing your hard earned money in exchange for an
undetermined indoor climate? Have you asked them what
formal training they have on
human physiology and
psychology as it relates to thermal comfort...after all
it'll be a real live human being (that would be you)
that will complain. No? We are not surprised since
factors are not included in
nor building construction educational curriculums
- go figure.
as it sounds, if you are like most educated consumers
you have bought into a hook, line and sinker on code
based HVAC "comfort" systems without doing the same
level of research that likely earned you your first
diploma or degree.
Why do we know this?
Because like the visitors of on-line HVAC
chat forums, consumers who shop for thermal
comfort almost always gravitate to discussions
about HVAC equipment and systems rather than hitting the
thermal comfort and human physiology which is
what the car manufacturers did - you see the boys and
girls in the car design business get it...the building
industry (still) doesn't get it. Remember grandpa's
saying, "if all you carry in your pouch is a hammer,
everything looks like a nail"? Well a large segment of
the industry only carries a hammer and tries to solve
every thermal comfort problem with equipment and
mechanical systems without understanding the real
problems. As an example, we have pointed out in several
articles that the majority in industry see heating and
cooling as an "air based" problem when the root of the
problem in our opinion is a surface temperature problem.
I have stated in several publication that if building
dropped the reference to controlling air temperatures
and switched the requirements to controlling
mean radiant temperature, building performance
specifications would have to change overnight. I am not
alone in this position, many including those from the
UK's Health and
Safety Executive Team concur.
of that - let's get back to you and your shopping for
So look, there are a lot of people way smarter
than us - you are likely one of them - but even we can
see the public relations, marketing and sales machine
have convinced the brightest and wealthiest people on
the continent that comfort is a piece of mechanical equipment or it comes from
the bling adorning the home interior. As
University of Toronto Professor Ted Kesik has said, “No
industry that I know of provides so little factual
information to the consumers of its product…”
Just look around you, in the magazines,
at the shopping mall at the show homes...everybody does it but very few really put comfort into
scientific terms...you can buy a comfort heating system
from a comfort specialist, sit in a comfortable chair, walk on comfortable flooring, wear comfortable clothes all under comfortable lighting and soothing music but
yet still feel hot, dry, damp, clammy and cold...what's
up with that?
Here is the thing...other than the people
we've trained (grin), the majority of S & M
folks (sales and marketing) selling stuff for your home can't tell you about
true human thermal comfort. You can test them
yourself...study the article we did originally for Dr.
A. Bailes III over at
Energy Vanguard on
thermal comfort then with your knowledge go ask the
S & M crowd selling thermal comfort to define it and see
So why do people selling thermal comfort
products and services not know what thermal comfort is?
Wait for it....because they don't have
to...you with the smarts and cheque book come to
them pre-programmed to buy the bottom in "built
to code HVAC systems" so you can spend more money on
the building bling. It's true...North
Americans spend more money on outdoor furniture,
hardware, appliances, pets and cosmetics than they do on
the very indoor climates they constantly complain
about...we like to say consumers have been swiped by the
"poo and goo machines" by the dollars they spend on fifi,
fido and facial creams...and let's face it - the HVAC
industry is pathetic at marketing against the big bling
machines...and its tough because what we have to offer is invisible. Now
on the other hand, if you were to listen to the health and building scientists
they would tell you to pay attention to the
invisible...yes its abstract but we're talking about
your physiological and psychological well being and they
know about that stuff.
Well...because as medical professionals they have been
researching it formally since the late 1800's. They even have
fancy instruments to evaluate you and your indoor
spaces just as the car manufacturers have done. The good
news is out of this science based research has emerged
the indoor climate engineer working with thermal comfort
standards (see side bar and below) to create the ideal thermal environment for
you and yours.
Wait a minute you might say...thermal
Are you surprised to hear there
are in fact 'thermal comfort standards'? Yes? Well they have been
published as early as 1966 (see below) but don't worry - you are not alone, most veterans in the building industry don't know
they exist either.
So why doesn't the building industry know
about thermal comfort standards?
Well wait for it (again)....because
they don't have to know...and since you with the
smarts and cheque book don't come pre-programmed to ask
to see their thermal comfort research proving their indoor climates meet
the indoor climate standards - they will never know
(drum roll) unless you ask...and if you do ask - don't be surprised to
get the same cocky look you get from your dressed to the
nines pooch wearing
the pretty pink pet pullover.
That's why this is the most important web site you can study when it comes to your new home or renovation - it
is your money and your decision where to invest it...we
can only hope from here on in you'll do the necessary
research to really understand what it takes to make you
The best part - you can spend as much
time as you like reading our research based content
without any obligation - all we ask is that you
something positive with your new found knowledge.
(see Part II, Built to
Code HVAC Systems)