#29 How Low Can You Go?

In Homeworking, Save cash on January 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm

So, how low can you go? My husband is already complaining at 19. Some friends have made it down to 17. The headmaster at school just thinks the answer is for all children to wear vests.

There is plenty of advice dished out at this time of year about saving energy and cutting bills, in particular the idea that all the ills of the world can be solved if everyone just turns their thermostat down by one degree.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, this would not only slash the amount of CO2 I produce by 335kg (thus allowing me to eat more beef to compensate),  but save me £55 a year on heating bills. Other sources, such as civic-minded ideas machine We Are What We Do, offer a more conservative estimate of £35 a year. But you get the gist. Less heat -> less fuel -> less money.

Of course, if I were to actually turn my thermostat down every time a well meaning government department or eco charity told me to, I’d be pushing Absolute Zero by now (and presumably using far more energy getting there). So I need to know what temperature I should be aiming for.

So far I have failed to find a consensus. The BBC website suggests 18ºC. I seem to remember that for Physics A Level we took STP to be 20ºC. I’m told Standard Laboratory Conditions are taken as 25ºC, though I’ve no idea why chemists should get to be warmer than physicists (possibly something to do with all those Bunsen burners, and it might explain why so many physics teachers sported chunky knitwear and beards).

Regulation 7 of the Heath and Safety Executive workplace regulations says:

‘The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. ‘Workroom’ means a room where people normally work for more than short periods. The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity.

In other words, I’ve still got another 3.01ºC to go before my ‘workroom’ (ie house) falls foul of regulations and I can legally refuse to work. Or sue myself.

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