Residence halls turn on heat as cold weather sets in

Kelly Cothren

The process of switching residence halls from cooling to heating started late yesterday afternoon.

“After looking at the long-term weather forecast for the past couple weeks, we decided it was time to turn on the heat,” said Jim Zentmeyer, associate director of residence services. “It will take about two days for students to really start feeling a difference.”

Several factors go into making the decision of switching from air conditioning to heat. Residence services and Campus Environment and Operations look at weather trends and consider costs when making the decision. However, students comfort is a priority.

“We want to make sure the occupants of buildings are comfortable,” said Thomas Dunn, associate director of energy. “In the dorms, we try to make sure that students are warm at night and when they wake up in the morning.”

Residence Services and Campus Environment and Operations also closely watch weather patterns when deciding when to make the change.

It is difficult in some buildings to switch back and forth, so they try to make sure the weather is consistent.

In some buildings, like those in First Year Experience, it is as easy as clicking a button on a computer to switch from cooling to heating. For most buildings, however, it can take up to two to four hours to switch, Dunn said.

Certain preparations have to be done before switching over to heating as well. All the heating systems have to be checked by Campus Environment and Operations to help prevent future problems.

“When you switch to cooling, all you risk is comfort,” Dunn said. “When you switch to heating, not only are you uncomfortable, the building is in jeopardy of freezing. The heating system requires more care-taking.”

Heating is more expensive than cooling, but that is only a small part of the decision making process.

“A lot of students think that the switch is based on funding,” Zentmeyer said. “We pay for cooling, and we have to pay for heating. Either way, it is going (to) cost (money). We value the students’ comfort as priority.”

Contact building and grounds reporter Kelly Cothren at [email protected].