Imagine yourself trying to concentrate on learning when you’re sweltering in an excessively warm classroom or freezing in one that’s too chilly. Both high and low temperatures can create discomfort for students and teachers, but does discomfort due to poor classroom temperature lead to an impact on what students, teachers, and other staff can achieve?
What’s the optimal air temperature in classrooms and what are the factors that affect it?
The Illinois Department of Public Health stated that classroom temperatures ranging from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 23 degrees Celsius are widely considered as healthy and comfortable.
Several factors can influence the temperature in a classroom, these factors include:
The geographical location of the school can have a significant impact on classroom temperature. Regions with extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, may require more robust heating or cooling systems.
Building design and insulation
The design of a building, including its layout, window placement, and architectural features, can influence how heat and cold are distributed within the space. Meanwhile, insulation materials in walls and roofs help regulate indoor temperatures by preventing heat from escaping in cold weather or entering during hot weather.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems directly control and regulate the temperature within a space, such as a classroom. They affect temperature by producing and distributing warm air, by removing heat from the indoor environment, usually through air conditioning systems that cycle cool air, and setting the desired temperature through thermostats.
Weather and seasons
Changes in weather patterns and seasons affect outdoor temperatures, which can impact indoor temperatures. For example, during the summer, classrooms may become too hot if not adequately cooled.
The orientation of windows and the amount of sunlight a classroom receives can lead to temperature variations. Direct sunlight can increase heat, while shaded areas may stay cooler.
Occupancy and activity levels
The number of students and their activity levels in a classroom generate body heat. A crowded classroom with active students can raise the temperature over time.
Budget limitations can affect a school’s ability to invest in advanced HVAC systems or building upgrades, potentially leading to less effective temperature control.
Impacts of classroom temperature
Here are the primary reasons why school administrators need to consider air temperature when working to create healthier school environments.
Temperature levels can impact student health
Younger children could be at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses as their bodies are still developing and are not as good at regulating their temperatures. They rely on adults for adopting heat-adaptive behaviors like increased water intake, seeking cooler areas, or taking breaks when feeling too hot. Some of the health issues that may develop due to cold temperature can include allergies, pneumonia, bronchitis, and flu. Hot temperature can lead to heat rash, heat cramps, and heat stroke.
Classroom temperature affects academic performance
Scientists from Cornell University attempted to explain how classroom temperature plays a crucial role in memory and learning capabilities of students. As the brain becomes more preoccupied with regulating the body’s temperature, it can divert attention away from our ability to concentrate effectively.
Temperature imbalances can affect teacher and staff efficiency
Extreme temperatures, whether too hot or too cold, can make teachers and staff physically uncomfortable. This discomfort can be distracting and can divert their attention away from their work and responsibilities.
Moreover, illnesses caused by temperature imbalances can result in higher rates of sick leave leading to reduced staffing levels and additional workload on colleagues.
Benefits of a balanced classroom temperature
A comfortable temperature range helps students concentrate better on their lessons. They are less distracted by discomfort and can focus more effectively on learning.
Increased focus and concentration
Proper temperature regulation supports better cognitive function. Students can think more clearly, solve problems, and retain information more efficiently.
Higher academic performance
When students are comfortable, they perform better academically. They are more likely to achieve higher grades and meet educational goals.
Reduced behavioral issues
An optimal temperature can contribute to a more peaceful and controlled classroom environment. It may lead to fewer disruptions, conflicts, and disciplinary issues.
Comfortable classrooms are more inviting, encouraging students to attend school regularly. This can reduce absenteeism and ensure consistent learning opportunities.
Improved teacher productivity
Teachers can be more effective when they are comfortable. They can focus on teaching instead of addressing temperature-related complaints and distractions.
Secured health and safety
Maintaining the right temperature can help improve indoor environmental quality and prevent temperature-related health problems.
A comfortable temperature accommodates the diverse needs of students, including those with sensory sensitivities or medical conditions that may be aggravated by extreme temperatures, promoting inclusivity.
Positive school branding
Schools that prioritize a comfortable learning environment through optimal temperature control tend to have a positive reputation, attracting students, teachers, and community support.
Tips to maintain optimal temperature levels in classrooms
- Install efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that can adequately regulate temperature levels in classrooms. Ensure these systems are regularly serviced and maintained for optimal performance.
- Ensure that the classroom building is well-insulated to prevent heat loss during cold weather and minimize heat gain during hot weather. Insulate walls, ceilings, and windows to maintain stable indoor temperatures.
- Install programmable thermostats that allow precise temperature control and scheduling based on occupancy hours and needs. Regularly calibrate and monitor thermostat settings.
- Design classrooms with windows that can be opened to allow for natural ventilation when outdoor conditions are favorable.
- Install ceiling fans to help distribute conditioned air evenly throughout the room, reducing hot or cold spots.
- Educate students, teachers, and staff about the importance of responsible energy use, such as closing windows and doors when the HVAC system is operating.
- Use advanced indoor environmental quality monitoring systems equipped with temperature sensors. These devices provide real-time data on temperature levels, allowing the school administrator to address temperature issues and maintain comfort.
Manage classroom temperature and create spaces where students thrive and teachers perform their best.