Ben M, a loyal MR reader, asks:
How does an office/shopping mall/theater decide how low to set its air
conditioning? It seems like they’ve found a bizarre and expensive
equilibrium where the "normal" indoor temperature is 63 degrees (in
August) and everyone carries an extra long-sleeve layer to keep warm.
How did it get this way, and is there some way to fix it?
This is perhaps the most common European complaint about visiting the United States, noting that they also don’t like ice in drinks and think freely circulating cold air can kill small babies.
I believe the goal of high-powered AC is to give customers the feeling of luxury, the feeling that anything can be afforded, and the feeling that the store will spare no expense toward the end of comfort. I do not believe that either the average or the marginal buyer actually — marketing effects aside — prefers that temperatures be so low. This implies that low margin stores will set the AC at lower levels; does anyone know if this is true? For instance businesses offices should be somewhat warmer than Nordstrom or Macy’s.
I find many movie theatres to be infernally cold, perhaps because they seek to be viewed as a respite from the summer heat. Appealing to dating moviegoers, who may wish to cuddle together, or be forced to do so, may be another reason.
And still I wonder why it is so loud in the pachinko parlors…