Thermal Comfort : Definition

9 April 2024
2 min

What is thermal comfort?

Thermal comfort is a complex concept, which can vary greatly from one individual to another. It is defined as the feeling of well-being that people experience in a given space, a feeling influenced by various parameters such as temperature, humidity, air quality and insulation.

Ambient temperature. This plays an essential role in the perception of thermal comfort. On average, in winter, a temperature of between 19°C and 21°C would be ideal. This can rise to around 24°C in summer.

Wall temperature. The temperature of surfaces such as walls, floors and windows also affects the feeling of comfort. As you might expect, walls that are too cold or too hot can create an imbalance and affect comfort.

Air humidity. The relative humidity of the indoor air is another determining factor in thermal comfort. The ideal humidity level is between 40% and 60%. Any higher and you feel colder, which encourages you to turn up the heat.

Airflow. Draughts in a building or a room are something to be avoided. While they may be welcome in summer to help perspiration and cool the atmosphere, when it's cold they can cause discomfort by promoting heat exchange through convection.

Added to this is each person's metabolism and clothing, which also affect the sensation of thermal comfort.

The new RE2020 environmental regulations have made thermal comfort an important objective of the energy transition, particularly in terms of summer comfort and the fight against heat leakage.

Why seek thermal comfort?

Improving the thermal comfort of a building is not just about the comfort of the occupants. Of course, this is essential for their well-being, but other important considerations must also be taken into account:

The sustainability of buildings. Adequate thermal comfort prevents problems of humidity and temperature variations that can damage building materials and alter air quality.

Energy savings. An effective thermal comfort management system can reduce energy loss by controlling heating and cooling costs.

Reducing the ecological footprint. Optimising energy consumption helps reduce the ecological footprint, which is crucial in the current context of energy transition.

How can thermal comfort be optimised in building management systems?

Thermal comfort needs to be addressed right from the construction or renovation stage. By using the right materials for optimum insulation of the roof, floors, walls and windows, the building can guarantee a minimum level of comfort. Similarly, a well-designed ventilation system ensures healthy air and helps to regulate indoor temperature and humidity.

However, building management systems can go much further, providing sophisticated, almost personalised control of a wide range of equipment. Installing devices that continuously regulate the main elements that contribute to well-being is an investment that quickly pays for itself. It allows you to act on:

- Temperature variations linked to the sun's rays. In summer, during heatwaves, windows - even double or triple-glazed windows - can be real heat conduits. Shutters and blinds can be controlled automatically. Shuttering can be triggered when the sun hits a pane directly and the temperature rises significantly in the room concerned.

- Measuring temperatures and humidity. IoT sensors are essential for monitoring temperature and humidity levels. They can send alerts when a threshold is reached.

- Thermostats can be fitted to radiators or heating/air conditioning units. When connected, they can be activated according to the thresholds defined in the building's energy and thermal strategy.

IoT, is an effective solution for improving thermal comfort in buildings

IoT solutions such as Wattsense can be used to centralise the collection of all sensor readings continuously, produce alerts and help to manage equipment to achieve a level of thermal comfort tailored to each individual.

Open the doors to efficient building management with the Wattsense solution! Our connectivity solution enables you to optimise the performance of your buildings effectively while keeping costs under control. By allowing you to take back control of the technical equipment in your buildings, whatever their size, condition or use, you can rapidly improve energy efficiency, maintenance and occupant comfort. Ask for a demo to find out more.