Exploring the Link between Thermal Experience and Adaptation to a New Climate
Journal article, 2018
Numerous field studies conducted in different locations have found that peoples’ thermal comfort varies with local climate. However, little is understood about the effect of moving from one climate to another. Literature suggests that people would be able to adapt to the typical indoor climate in a new location, though estimated timescales for this process differ. This paper uses data from a 6-month field study to investigate the process of thermal adaptation to a new climate. The field study consisted of a series of four thermal comfort surveys conducted with 48 occupants of single occupancy residential accommodation units, which helped to estimate their preferred temperatures. The surveys were carried out between October 2015 and April 2016 in Southampton, UK, with high resolution indoor air temperature data collected for the periods between the surveys.
Study participants were grouped into three categories: long term residents of the UK (Category A), recently moved to the UK from cold climates (Category An) and recently moved to the UK from warm climates (Category B). The higher indoor temperatures of participants from cool climates (Category An) indicates the influence of indoor thermal history in determining thermal comfort conditions in a new location. This is highlighted by the fact that 94% of Category An participants reported having heating in their previous residence compared to 17% of Category B participants. Analysis of comfort temperatures over the first 6 months of occupancy shows no indication that occupants from Category An or B are adapting their indoor preferences to match that of long term UK residents, given the choice to create their preferred environment. Finally, comparison of indoor air temperature and comfort temperature found a higher correlation in Category A participants which supports the key principles of adaptive comfort theory. Category An demonstrated fairly close correlation though air temperatures were higher than comfort temperatures which may be due to embedded heater use behaviour patterns. Category B demonstrated no correlation between comfort temperature and air temperature which may be due to unfamiliarity to indoor heating systems.
adaptive thermal comfort