Air conditioning: Men vs. women

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Here at the main bus station in downtown Reno, Judy and Shirley are part of R-T-C-'s customer service. Even when the temperatures hit the century mark, these gals stay calm and cool. The indoor air conditioning helps.

“Right now it is comfortable for me in here. Right now, where it is right now, it is perfect,” says Shirley Bessey with RTC Customer Service.

Across town national sales assistant Sarah Lightfoot has a different story. At her feet is a portable heater she uses more times than she'd like to admit during the summer. She says the air conditioning can get just too overpowering.

“I like it to some point. But usually a lot of times it is so blasting that it is freezing. So I end up putting on my heater,” says Sarah.

When summer arrives, and air conditioners in offices and homes across town are placed in the on position, the debate begins. Is it too cold, not cold enough, or just right? Many blame it on a male-female match-up, and biologically they wouldn't be too far off.

“This is not magic or mystery; it is basic physics,” says Dr. Steve Zell.

The professor with the University of Nevada Reno Medical School, says biologically men and women are different. And when it comes to body temperature, size matters in terms of what it takes to burn off excess heat.

“If you have a large volume surface and a big muscle mass it is hard for blood vessels to get out and dilate and lose heat. So a big strong man who has meat on his bones is going to have a harder time getting rid of heat and will always feel warm in the same circumstances,” says Dr. Zell.

Zell says as women age, and menopause kicks in, hot flashes may replace the cold ones.

And in terms of older patients in general, as their bodies age, retaining heat may be more challenging. Such explanations probably won't solve the dispute over the thermostat dial, but at least it's not coming out of thin air.