Today, in the first of an upcoming series of more regular blog posts featuring news, information and helpful advice for businesses, we shall be exploring what the onset of winter may mean for a business and its employees.

The winter months can bring with them their own particular set of problems for business owners, staff and customers alike, so let’s take a look at some common issues together with how the installation of new energy efficient air conditioning can help to avoid them.

A Sudden Cold ‘Snap’

It’s an unfortunate fact that many businesses throughout the UK are ill-equipped when faced with a sudden cold ‘snap’ to deal with the associated fallout.

Reliance on electric heaters and fans, or other traditional fossil fuel-driven heating systems as a coping strategy in such circumstances can often be a less-than-ideal solution; a crucial problem being the immediacy with which these types of systems are able to react and heat a building to the required temperature.

This, in turn, can lead to increased running costs and employee/customer dissatisfaction with the level of thermal comfort on offer.

Lower Comfort = Lower Productivity

It should come as no surprise to find that numerous workplace studies have indicated that employees will operate at a reduced efficiency level when working outside of the established optimum working temperature (generally recommended to be around 21-23°C).

Employee in a freezing officeMost notably, a month-long study by Cornell University carried out at Insurance Office of America’s headquarters in 2004 suggested that chilly workers make more errors and potentially increase a worker’s hourly labour cost by 10 percent.

Focusing on secretarial staff, the same study showed that the number of typing errors fell by 44% and typing output increased 150% when the office temperature rose from 20°C to 21.7°C.

In another survey of UK office workers, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) found that:

… 55% said that they are working in unsatisfactory temperatures

March 2010, Building Research Establishment (BRE)

Consideration also needs to be given to traditionally climbing rates of absenteeism during the winter months that can hurt the productivity of any business. With an upturn in instances of cold and flu, a standard boiler and radiator heating solution will do nothing to filter the air in the workplace and can therefore allow germs to thrive.

The Winter ‘Blues’

As it also turns out, a low workplace temperature can lead to employees feeling ‘blue’ on both physical and emotional levels.

Employee asleep at his deskSo, a general feeling of unhappiness amongst a business’ employees could be down to something as simple as how many extra layers they feel compelled to don in order to make it through their working day.

Meanwhile, a burst of physical warmth — similar to personal warmth — has been shown to help alleviate such negative feelings.

Following on from this, the Journal of Consumer Psychology have also asserted that consumer purchase intention is up when it’s warm.

As part of a study conducted by Israeli and American researchers, and published in the JCP, 100 participants were split across 3 rooms: The first with a temperature of 22°C (test group), the second at 26°C and the last one at 18°C. Eleven images of targeted products for the participants were shown. They were then asked to give the maximum price they were willing to pay for each product.

Participants in the warmest room (26°C) were those willing to pay more for 9 of 11 products. Participants in the test room at 22°C gave a price evaluation up by 10.4% on average compared to those in the colder room (18°C).

For researchers, this can be explained by the fact that “exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth”. This, in turn, improves how people feel and the perceived value they attach to products and services.

How Can An Air Conditioning System Help In Winter?

All the above being said, it remains the fact that many businesses fail to look upon air conditioning as anything other than a way of cooling their spaces in the summer months; not realising that air conditioning is even more effective at heating those same spaces.

With the advent of inverter compressors, together with new technology such as higher pressure refrigerants and more efficient heat exchangers, using your air conditioning to heat your offices, shops and homes is now much more efficient that using a traditional boiler with radiators.

Graph of CO2 emissions per heating typeUsing C.O.P., or Coefficient Of Performance, is one way in which we can measure the effective efficiency of a heating solution.

When we look at this in detail, it is surprising how much more efficient air conditioning systems can be when stacked up against traditional heating methods.

Essentially, C.O.P. is the comparative measure of the energy input to a system, versus the heat energy out of a system.

For example, a condensing boiler which inputs 1kW of gas will give out circa 0.85 or 0.9kW of heat energy. A typical modern direct expansion air conditioning (DX) split system will require 1kW of electrical energy to give out circa 3kW of heat energy.

That’s over 3 times more efficient, meaning that there are substantial running cost savings to be made in the long run.

So, besides increased energy efficiency, what are some of the other benefits that using air conditioning to heat your premises can bring?

  • Instant climate control – an air conditioning system can be heating rooms within minutes of it starting up – very often you can feel the effects straight away and usually your space will be up to the required comfort level in a fraction of the time a boiler and radiators can deliver for you.
  • Air filtration – unlike radiators, your indoor A/C unit will also filter the air used to warm your space; some modern filters can remove not only dust, but also allergens and, in some cases, viruses! All the better to minimise the spread of nasty winter ailments!
  • Kindness to the environment – it’s interesting to note that systems have now become so efficient that the Government even classifies DX split systems as sources of renewable energy! This is because they derive most of their heat not from the electricity input to the system, but from the ambient air outside, even on the coldest of winter days!

Year-round Comfort, Whatever The Weather

As you can see, modern A/C systems are far more energy efficient than a standard boiler. As long as your A/C systems are appropriately sized and installed by qualified engineers, and maintained by a registered, insured and reputable company, then there is no reason why your system can’t heat your space efficiently, trouble-free, for years to come. The benefits will be there for all to enjoy.

So, if you are interested in discussing an air conditioning installation, why not call us today on 020 7739 2462?

Coming Up Next Time: R22 Phase-out – Exactly What Your Business Needs To Know

We’ll be looking at the implications for businesses across the UK of the imminent ban on the use of R22 refrigerant gas in air conditioning systems and advising on the best way to formulate an action plan to make sure that your business is compliant.

Call Us Today On 020-7739-2462
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