Physiological and subjective responses in the elderly when using floor heating and air conditioning systems

Nobuko Hashiguchi, Yutaka Tochihara, Tadakatsu Ohnaka, Chiaki Tsuchida, Tamio Otsuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a floor heating and air conditioning system on thermal responses of the elderly. Eight elderly men and eight university students sat for 90 minutes in a chair under the following 3 conditions: air conditioning system (A), floor heating system (F) and no heating system (C). The air temperature of sitting head height for condition A was 25°C, and the maximum difference in vertical air temperature was 4°C. The air and floor temperature for condition F were 21 and 29°C, respectively. The air temperature for condition C was 15°C. There were no significant differences in rectal temperature and mean skin temperature between condition A and F. Systolic blood pressure of the elderly men in condition C significantly increased compared to those in condition A and F. No significant differences in systolic blood pressure between condition A and F were found. The percentage of subjects who felt comfortable under condition F was higher than that of those under condition A in both age groups, though the differences between condition F and A was not significant. Relationships between thermal comfort and peripheral (e.g., instep, calf, hand) skin temperature, and the relationship between thermal comfort and leg thermal sensation were significant for both age groups. However, the back and chest skin temperature and back thermal sensation for the elderly, in contrast to that for the young, was not significantly related to thermal comfort. These findings suggested that thermal responses and physiological strain using the floor heating system did not significantly differ from that using the air conditioning system, regardless of the subject age and despite the fact that the air temperature with the floor heating system was lower. An increase in BP for elderly was observed under the condition in which the air temperature was 15°C, and it was suggested that it was necessary for the elderly people to heat the room somehow in winter. Moreover, it is particularly important for elderly people to avoid a decrease in peripheral skin temperature, and maintain awareness of the warmth of peripheral areas, such as the leg, in order to ensure thermal comfort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of physiological anthropology and applied human science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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