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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A thermal comfort environmental chamber study of older and younger people


We investigated whether or not, when exposed to the same conditions, older people (those aged 65 and over) had different thermal sensations, comfort, acceptability and preferences from their younger counterparts. The study was conducted in a thermal comfort environmental chamber, involving 22 older (average 69.7 years old) and 20 younger (29.6 years old) subjects, exposed to four test conditions between slightly cool and slightly warm. Subjective thermal comfort perceptions for local body parts and whole-body were surveyed. Skin temperatures were measured at four body locations: neck, right scapula, left hand, and right shin. We also investigated the correlation between the frailty level of the subjects and their thermal comfort levels. The study found no significant difference between the thermal sensation, comfort and acceptability of older and younger subjects. We also found no correlation between subjects’ frailty level and their thermal sensation, comfort, acceptability and preference but we did not have many frail subjects. In both older and younger subjects, the hand’s skin temperature had a significant correlation with the local and overall thermal sensation.

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