During many of our indoor air quality surveys, we will discover the same simple mistake made by occupants and property managers. The thermostats within the space have all been set to “Auto.” The question is – does anyone really know what this means?
What it means is this: fresh outdoor air is only provided to the indoor space if heating or cooling is required. If the office is 67 degrees, and the thermostat is set to 73, heated air will be introduced until that threshold is reached. It works similarly with cooling. This can negatively impact the quality of the indoor environment.
The problem is, when neither heating or cooling is required, absolutely no fresh outdoor air is being provided to the space by the building’s HVAC system. This means that, whereas the temperature may be at an acceptable level, airborne contaminants may be building up, as they are not being diluted by fresh makeup air. These contaminants include odors, airborne particulate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and the like. These contaminants cause symptoms such as headaches, eye irritation, and drowsiness. Further, it allows levels of carbon dioxide to increase in high occupancy spaces, which can cause sensations of drowsiness or “stuffiness.”
So, do yourself and your indoor environment a favor, and keep the thermostats in the “On” mode during occupied hours. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps.