International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 887–893 | Cite as

The relationship between environmental temperature and clothing insulation across a year

  • JuYoun KwonEmail author
  • Jeongwha Choi
Original Paper


People adapt to thermal environments, such as the changing seasons, predominantly by controlling the amount of clothing insulation, usually in the form of the clothing that they wear. The aim of this study was to determine the actual daily clothing insulation on sedentary human subjects across the seasons. Thirteen females and seven males participated in experiments from January to December in a thermal chamber. Adjacent months were grouped in pairs to give six environmental conditions: (1) January/February = 5°C; (2) March/April = 14°C; (3) May/June = 25°C; (4) July/August = 29°C; (5) September/October = 23°C; (6) November/December = 8°C. Humidity(45 ± 5%) and air velocity(0.14 ± 0.01 m/s) were constant across all six experimental conditions. Participants put on their own clothing that allowed them to achieve thermal comfort for each air temperature, and sat for 60 min (1Met). The clothing insulation (clo) required by these participants had a significant relationship with air temperature: insulation was reduced as air temperature increased. The range of clothing insulation for each condition was 1.87–3.14 clo at 5°C(Jan/Feb), 1.62–2.63 clo at 14°C(Mar/Apr), 0.87–1.59 clo at 25°C(May/Jun), 0.4–1.01 clo at 29°C(Jul/Aug), 0.92–1.81 clo at 23°C (Sept/Oct), and 2.12–3.09 clo at 8°C(Nov/Dec) for females, and 1.84–2.90 clo at 5°C, 1.52–1.98 clo at 14°C, 1.04–1.23 clo at 25°C, 0.51–1.30 clo at 29°C, 0.82–1.45 clo at 23°C and 1.96–3.53 clo at 8°C for males. The hypothesis was that thermal insulation of free living clothing worn by sedentary Korean people would vary across seasons. For Korean people, a comfortable air temperature with clothing insulation of 1 clo was approximately 27°C. This is greater than the typical comfort temperature for 1 clo. It was also found that women clearly increased their clothing insulation level of their clothing as winter approached but did not decrease it by the same amount when spring came.


Clothing insulation Human response Air temperature Thermal comfort Clothing layer Clothing weight 



The authors wish to thank all the volunteers who took part in this study over a 12-month period. This research was supported partially by the Second Stage of BK 21. This study was also supported by 2011 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EngineeringNational Academy of Agricultural ScienceSuwonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Clothing and TextilesSeoul National University/Research Institute of Human EcologySeoulSouth Korea

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