Picture this: you head into work early everyday with only one thought in mind. Your goal is specifically to get there before your co-workers who like to set the temperature especially hot or cold. You set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. But throughout the day, that doesn’t stop others from heading over to change it to fit their specific preferences.
There’s the guy who always tries to set it five degrees warmer than everyone else likes it. And maybe you even have a few team members who like to turn the office into an arctic tundra. And all the back and forth switching between various temps can really drive up your office’s energy costs.
Comfy Helps Employees Compromise on a Comfortable Office Temperature
To combat that problem, there’s Comfy. Comfy is an app that allows all employees or building occupants to have a say in the temperature around their cubicle or workspace — without having them just change the thermostat for the entire office to one extreme or another.
Comfy just closed on a $12 million round of venture funding led by Emergence Capital, along with CBRE and Microsoft Ventures. The company plans to use the funding to build its team and develop new features and functionality to better serve clients going forward.
Here’s how it works.
Employees download the Comfy app on their phones. Then they can use the app to request warmer or cooler temperatures in the area where they work. The app collects that data and combines it with regular patterns and routine preferences of each user to come up with a temperature plan that’s most likely to keep everyone comfortable, happy and productive. Employees can even get an immediate stream of warm or cool air in the area around their workspace right after updating preferences in the app. But the data collected also determines the best way to manage your office’s heating and cooling over time.
The app can work with your existing HVAC system to keep costs low. The system works best with variable air volume systems that are managed with direct digital controls. But it can also be compatible with other forced air or fast-responding systems.
The cost of Comfy depends on the square footage of your office space. You’ll need to contact the company for a custom quote and also make sure that your HVAC system will work with Comfy. However, the app is free for employees to download once you have the systems in place.
The energy savings are a big part of Comfy’s draw. The company estimates it can reduce HVAC costs by around 20 percent, likely because it prevents employees with extreme preferences from constantly playing the back-and-forth game with the thermostat.
While Comfy says it can work with most forced air HVAC systems, those savings are likely to be more pronounced when it comes to larger office spaces with lots of employees or separate spaces. If you’re working at home by yourself, you already have the ability to set the thermostat to the temperature you like and not have to worry about going back and forth or setting different temperatures in different parts of the office. But if you have separate offices or cubicle areas where different employees work, especially if there are separate vents for each of those areas, that’s where you’re likely to see the most savings.
Aside from that, the company also claims that by using an app that takes every employee’s habits and preferences into account, it can also lead to higher employee satisfaction and productivity. It may seem like a small thing, but it does make sense. If employees are actually comfortable in their workspace, rather than having to deal with their co-workers’ varying temperature preferences throughout the day, they can spend more of their energy and focus on their actual work-related tasks.