*This post was originally published on December 21st, 2021 What if the single largest driver of...
Why the **** is it so hot in my building in the winter?
Ever wonder why buildings are so hot in the winter that you have to constantly open your windows?
Well, turns out your building was actually designed to get you to do that. The insanely weird story of why this is the case is almost a geopolitical history lesson. And it begins, weirdly, with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.
So back then, they figured out what we figured out during COVID, that fresh air means less transmission of disease. And so, for over 50 years, building designers designed buildings to encourage people to keep their windows open and let in fresh air. How did they do this? They simply turned the heating systems on at the beginning of the fall and left them on 24/7 through the end of winter. And this is how it worked until the 1970s.
In the 1970s, for the first time ever, oil became really expensive. And so somebody came up with the genius idea of combining a thermometer and a timer to run building heating systems less when it was warm outside, and more when it was cold outside. They called this mechanical invention the “outdoor reset control”.
It was revolutionary. It reduced energy usage by over 50 percent in buildings and made them a lot less overheated. But it didn't entirely solve the problem.
Imagine trying to heat a single apartment to the perfect temperature without actually knowing the temperature indoors. And then imagine trying to do that for a hundred apartments at once and not knowing the temperature inside any of them. And because we never want anybody to be cold, we always overshoot. But it’s ok because we all can just open the windows, right?
So we've been stuck with this outdated, inefficient model of running buildings. The good news is technology has evolved and now we can run heating systems off of indoor temperatures.
The awesome part about this is not only do we make apartments more comfortable, but we actually make them save even more energy. It’s a win-win for everybody.