Why are areas of some buildings so hot in the winter?

There are a wide variety of heating systems and heating control systems in our buildings. Some of the types of heating control systems are:

  1. individual room control
  2. zone control
  3. building control

Individual room control provides the best comfort control. A wall mounted thermostat or temperature sensor, or an adjustable thermostatic valve mounted on the heater, controls the temperature in each room. Nesmith, Smith Hall, and McConnell are examples of buildings with individual room control. If you have individual room control, and your area is too hot during cold weather, there is probably an energy-wasting equipment failure that should be reported. Zone control is a less expensive method to install.

Zone control does not provide the degree of comfort afforded by individual room control. With zone control, one control device (thermostat, wall sensor, or heater-mounted control) determines the amount of heat provided to several rooms within a zone. Generally, the room with the control device is the most comfortable. Other rooms in the zone receive heat based on the needs of the room with the control.

One common problem with zone control (and individual room control) is the use of electric space heaters. If a space heater is used in the room where the control device is located, the space heater may warm that room to the point where no other rooms in the zone receive any heat. Another typical problem with zone control is differing sun exposures or heat loads in different rooms within the zone. For zone control to work properly, all rooms in the zone must have essentially the same need for heat at all times.

Hewitt Hall, Kendall Hall, and the Printing & Mail Services Building are examples of buildings with zone control. If your room is too hot during the winter in a building with zone control, the room with the control device may be calling for heat even though your room doesn't need any.

Building control is the least expensive method to install, with the least degree of comfort control. There are no individual control devices in rooms within the building. The entire building receives heat based on the outdoor air temperature. As it gets colder outdoors, the heating water circulating throughout the building automatically gets hotter. The device controlling the water temperature must be set to keep the coldest room, with the most windows, on the northwest corner of the building warm. That usually results in many other areas of the building overheating, especially those with an interior or southern exposure.

Pettee Hall, and many of the residence halls are examples of buildings with "building control." If an entire building with "building control" is too hot, there may be an equipment failure that should be reported. If only certain areas of the building are too hot, that is probably necessary in order to keep the colder rooms in the building warm.

Is it less expensive to leave lights on all the time, rather than turning them on and off?

A common myth about lighting system is that it is more expensive to turn lights on and off, so it's better to just leave lights all the time. Not true! Fifty or sixty years ago, when lamps were expensive and electricity was inexpensive, that may be true. Times have changed, and now lamps are relatively inexpensive and electricity is expensive.

It is true that turning lamps on and off many times a day can shorten the lamp life. In extreme cases, that cost of having to buy more lamps may offset the energy savings. What's the situation at UNH?

Incandescent lamps are so inefficient, it always pays to turn them off when they're not needed, even for very short periods of time. For flourescent lamps, the breakeven point is about five minutes. In other words, if fluorescent lights will be off for five minutes or longer, it's more cost effective to turn them off than to leave them on.

It is understandable that some people leave their lights on to let others know that they are in the building. We are considering the possibility of providing doorknob hanger signs with wording such as: "I'm in the building, but my lights are off to save energy. I'll be back soon." Let us know what you think about that idea.

Now that the lighting myth has been debunked and we see how much energy is being wasted, what are your thoughts on why so many lights are left on in empty rooms? We need your comments and suggestions.

Please remember to turn out the lights when you leave your room or office.

If students aren't waiting outside for the next class period, turn out classroom lights when you leave.
Use fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent lamps whenever possible. (For every dollar spent on electricity for an incandescent lamp, you only receive 15 cents worth of visible light.)

Remember that halogen lamps are incandescent lamps.. use fluorescent lamps instead of halogen lamps whenever possible.

What are some heating and cooling tips?

It takes a lot of energy - and money - to keep UNH buildings warm through our New Hampshire winter. However, everyone can help reduce energy use and costs with these important but relatively small efficiency measures.

Turn off your space heater - Electric space heaters cost almost four times more than gas heat from the UNH heating system to use. Also, they can warm the space above the thermostat setpoint and shut off the regular heating system.

Report problems with heating systems to the Facilities Control Center at 862-1437 or facilities.control.center@unh.edu, especially if those problems require you to use a portable electric space heater.

Know where the thermostat or temperature sensor that controls your space is located, and move any heat-producing items (computers, printers, copy machines, fax machines, refrigerators, coffepots, televisions, etc.) away from the thermostat or temperature sensor. These items, if neat the temperature controls, can cause the heat in your space to shut off prematurely.

Close your windows! Latch them tightly so any weatherstripping is compressed. Check the windows before you leave a class or meeting where participants may have opened a window for fresh air.

Close shades and blinds at night to conserve heat, and open them on sunny days for solar heat.

Close doors of rooms and turn radiators off in rooms that are not being used regularly in you building, so the warm air stays within your working space and doesn't heat up unused space (but make sure rooms don't get so cold that water in pipes may freeze).

Turn back thermostats to 60-65 degrees when leaving the building at the end of the day or on weekends.

Learn how much it costs to heat your building

How to be an ENERGY STAR

One of the most helpful things you can do to conserve energy at UNH is to purchase and lease only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated "Energy Star" computers, printers, and copy machines. Energy Star office equipment can be configured to automatically power down in an 'equipment safe" manner during periods of non-use. For example, some Energy Star laser printers don't even have on/off switches! Those printers automatically turn themselves on, with virtually no warmup wait, whenever they receive a print command from a computer. Insist on Energy Star equipment when you purchase or arrange a lease. That sends a signal to our vendors (and their manufactures) that we want energy efficient office equipment.

In the morning, don't turn on computers, printers, and copy machines until they are actually needed. A minute or two of your patience can save a lot of energy. Do some other tasks while the equipment warms up.

Turn office equipment off during lunch breaks, and don't turn that equipment back on until you actually need it.

Turn off your compute (or at least the monitor) if you won't be using it for the next hour.

Make sure that computer monitors and copy machines are shut off when you leave at the end of the day.

Get rid of your printer and use a network printer that can be shared by your entire office.

Visit the EPA's EnergyStar web site

Visit the virtual workspace