Office Temperature Check: Keeping Your Office Cool When it’s Hot Outside

Here in upstate New York, temperatures and humidity levels can fluctuate wildly from one day to the next.


This summer has already been a case in point—a heat wave one week and temps in the 60s the next. Office temperatures have a powerful impact on employee productivity and performance. Researchers from Cornell University found that employees committed 44% more errors when office temperatures were cold than when they were warm

So what’s the best way to keep cool—or at least stay comfortable—those 8+ hours a day you’re at work? Start by knowing this: You can’t please everyone. While one employee fans herself with a piece of paper, another is reaching for a sweater. Here are five quick and easy tips for keeping your employees happy and your office comfortable when temperatures flare.

1. Layer up.

Hot? Cold? Be prepared either way by wearing layers. If you’re a business owner, consider implementing a casual dress code during the summer months so employees can leave the suits and ties at home in favor of lighter options.

2. Stay hydrated.

“The rule of thumb is, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” says Dr. Irvin Sulapas, sports medicine physician and assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor University. When you’re dehydrated, you can become sleepy, irritable and confused. Dehydration can even lead to headaches and dizziness. Provide an office water cooler and encourage employees to use it by giving them company water bottles.

3. Tune up and turn on.

Open windows and air conditioning don’t mix. In fact, it’s a combo that can wreak havoc on your employee comfort and your energy bill. Keep the cool air inside and the hot air outside by properly maintaining your air conditioning unit from coil to filter. This small measure helps ensure your AC unit runs efficiently and effectively throughout the summer months.

4. Switch off and cool down.

We can sum this one up in one word: unplug. Unused and obsolete office machinery not only increases your energy bill, but also increases your office temperature. Unplug unused equipment and ask employees to turn off computers when they leave for the night. (Sleep mode still uses energy and contributes to office warming.)

5. Use high-efficiency lighting.

Incandescent bulbs radiate heat and add to your bottom line during peak energy usage months. When you switch to high-efficiency lighting, such as LEDs, you’ll use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescent. In addition, high-efficiency lights last as much as 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.

As summer kicks into high gear, you might also consider getting an office energy audit—an expert assessment of how much energy your office consumes and measures you can take to make it more energy efficient.

“An energy audit is a good first step in making your office more comfortable, not just in the summer months, but all year long,” says Dave Eck, maintenance manager for The Anderson Group. “When employers implement audit recommendations, they often see lower utility bills and more comfortable and productive employees during months with extreme temperatures in either direction.”

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