Again I fear women are under attack from the nasty possessors of y chromosomes. Nothing new there, then. But this is an odd one, since it revolves around air conditioning.

Modern air conditioning systems are set in accordance with standards established in the 1960s, and are based on the metabolic rate of 40 year old males. This is not too surprising, since the systems were designed by men, and at that time the workplace was a macho environment. Still is, in many cases. Anyway, the standards don’t take into account the lower metabolic rate of women, who would like a temperature of 77F, while men prefer a rather more frigid 70F. This means that women have to remember to bring a cardigan.

I’m surprised it has taken so long for people to factor this in. Anybody, man or woman, is aware of this discrepancy in rates. Women will have an electric blanket and a superTOG duvet in bed, and the man will have several limbs out from under the covers to act as heat sinks.

This phenomenon reached its zenith for me when we were on holiday in Sri Lanka. It was just before monsoon season, and 95F with 95% relative humidity. I didn’t know you could get mist at those temperatures, but you can. It was so hot even I noticed. Even the locals were wilting. But my wife, lying on her back in the full sun, said, ‘My bum’s cold.’ I copped a feel, and stap me vitals! It was!

I think aircon is an abomination anyway. There’s also a hint in the abbreviation ‘con.’ First thing I do when I get to a hotel that has aircon is switch it off. It’s a relatively modern invention, and our ancestors did OK without it. Then we have to consider the power consumption. In the US, in the summer, 1/6th of all electricity is used to cool buildings. Tell that to someone living in a tin shack in the tropics and they’d look at you as if you’d got a handful of screws loose.

It’s not an easy one to fix. Turn up the wick and men may be reduced to stripping down to their shreddies, which is not a nice prospect, and you’re then burning even more fuel to keep the temperature down, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Leave it where it is and women will be dressed like Nanook of the North.

But bear this in mind. I know several women who are gardeners or tree surgeons, and at no point do they say to their male colleagues, ‘Sod this, I’m not going out. It’s too cold. You’ll have to do it.’

Advertisements