Ah… Summer time. Long days, barbecues, and lazy afternoons by the pool. AND raging office wars over the AC! AC controls are one of the least understood of all User Interfaces. This isn’t surprising, as they vary between cars, central units, and window units, and are at times intentionally misleading. Let me step through a primer to avoid unnecessary battles.
1. The Temperature Setting: This applies to both window and central air controls. In window units, it is a gradient from blue to red. On central units, it is a degree setting in numbers. Many battles form around a misunderstanding of this control. Someone will walk into the office, find that it’s hot (because the AC hasn’t been on all night) and flip the temperature control to the “Coldest” setting. Makes sense right? Get a quick cool down so it’s livable again?
WRONG: The temperature control does NOT in fact make the AC shoot out colder air. ACs are binary objects. They are either on or they are off. They ALWAYS shoot out the same temperature of air! What does the temperature control do then? That means the AC will continue to run until the room is at the LOWEST possible temperature that the AC’s thermostat allows. In other words, the AC will just stay on for days and days while it attempts to cool the room to 50 degrees (usually the lowest setting). Not a good idea!
2. Energy Saver: Blech! Who wants to use this secret heat-enhancer guised as an environmentally-friendly control? No doubt it uses less “cold” energy and once again makes the AC shoot out hot air.
WRONG: Energy Saver is a stupidly mis-labled feature. All it actually does is when the compressor (the AC) isn’t running because the room has reached the desired temperature (by intelligently setting the termostat to a human livable temperature), it stops the fan as well. This way, when the unit isn’t producing cold air anyway, the fan doesn’t continue to run. This setting should be turned to “off” if you’d like the fan to continue to circulate air or if you hate the fan switching on and off when you are sleeping. It does NOT affect how cold the air coming from your AC is.
3. The High/Medium/Low Cool setting. Once again the name explains what this control does. Obviously on High Cool the AC shoots out “Super-Chilled” air that it generates using cold-enhancing technology. On Low Cool, it turns off its Super-Chilled air and pumps out luke-warm air befitting a “Low Cool” need.
WRONG AGAIN: The High/Medium/Low setting only affects the speed of the fan. On high, the fan spins quickly and will circulate more air as well as creating a stronger “gust” coming from the vent. On low, the fan spins more slowly and the air flow is reduced accordingly. Turn it on high if you want to blow the air far and wide and you like the noise. Put it on low if you don’t like the wind blowing on the back of your neck or would like to have a conversation.
I hope this primer can help alleviate the battles of the knob that often happen in offices. Although there will always be differences in opinion as to how cool it should be, at least by understanding the AC controls, both parties can have a rational discussion of needs and take the appropriate actions!