I’m not going to pretend that I really understand much about physics, but between my high school physics book and Google, I think I know what the second law of thermodynamics is. It says that in a closed system, the temperature tends towards equilibrium, or in other words, cold stuff cools down hot stuff and hot stuff heats up cold stuff. This explains why ice melts in a glass of water, why putting food in a hot oven makes it cook, and why my parents always told me and my sister that our bedroom wouldn’t be the hottest room in the house on a warm summer day if we’d just leave the door open so that there’d be some air flow.

Technically, a room with a closed door isn’t exactly a closed system, unless the door is totally airtight. Most buildings, though, act as closed systems as long as all the doors and windows are closed. Thus, if the air conditioning is set to a certain temperature, that’s the temperature it will be in that building. Of course, depending upon various details of the building and the air conditioning system, it might not literally be the exact same temperature in the entire building. That’s not the point, though; the point is that if you set the air conditioning at a really low temperature because it’s hot outside, then it will be cold inside. Of course, the reverse applies for furnaces. If you turn the heat up really high because you’re cold, then it’ll get really hot.

It’s annoying to be in a building where the temperature is too high or low, but it’s even more annoying when the temperature outside is at the other extreme. The human body can gradually adjust itself to temperature changes, (through some method that I’m sure relates to the second law of thermodynamics somehow) but it can’t instantly adjust to a drastic temperature change. If my dorm room is about 80 degrees, the library where I work is about 70 degrees, the laundry room in my dorm is in the 60s, it’s 100 degrees outside, and it’s a zillion bajillion degrees inside my car, I’m not going to be comfortable at any of those temperatures.

Therefore, my plea to people in general is this: Don’t set the thermostat temperature so high in the winter and so low in the summer.

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