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PLACEBOS are everywhere. Drugs firms sell red pills because customers are convinced that they are stronger than white ones. Pressing the button at some pedestrian crossings makes no difference to when the green man appears, but makes us feel proactive. And the “doors close” request in a lift serves no purpose other than to soothe the frustration of impatient riders.Add another placebo to the list: thermostat controls in hotel rooms. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal has confirmed what many of us already knew deep down: “It’s not your imaginations. Hotel thermostats often aren’t under your control.”The Journal reports:The humble hotel wall thermostat, once just a mechanical temperature sensor and fan-speed switch, has become an infrared heat and motion detector wirelessly networked into building controls that cut costs by reducing energy consumption. Many are tied to door switches, shutting off when people leave the room or even open a window or balcony door.…The New York Hilton has a system that keeps unoccupied rooms at 78 degrees [25℃] and then automatically sets the thermostat to 74 [23℃] when a guest checks in. The system cools the room down in about five minutes. Companywide, new temperature control systems have helped Hilton reduce energy use by 14% since …


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