A new study published today in Nature Climate Change finds a formula developed in the 1960s and used to design and calibrate most heating and cooling systems are based on a single estimate of the metabolic activity of a 40-year-old, 155-pound male.
This formula for the human body's level of comfort made no attempt to take women or people of different sizes or ages into account — and hasn't been changed since.
The study further finds that women have much lower metabolic rates than the standard used in the formula — meaning they generate less heat — and that, as a result, it overestimates how much air conditioning they prefer. "This leads to uncomfortable people and is a waste of energy," says Boris Kingma of Maastricht University, the study's lead author.
More details here.