The answer isn't a simple one. At the beginning of the fall, temperatures can be comfortable during the day but very cool in the evening. Students are generally comfortable in the residence halls during the warmer days, and it's the nighttime cool air that prompts most students to ask when the heat will be turned on.
Once we turn the heat on, it stays on until the spring. During this time, building radiators will call for heat whenever the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, and rooms are then warmed to our 68 degree standard. During the fall "shoulder season," however, turning the heat on because the evenings are cool can sometimes result in buildings being too warm during the day, particularly when the sun is shining.
The staff members involved in making the decision about when to turn on the heat have needed to do so for over twenty years; while we may not make perfect choices, we like to think they are informed and reasoned ones. Once we see a trend that we are in for several cool nights AND cool days in a row, we have the heat turned on as quickly as we can. This process takes about 3 full days, and once done, there is no going back until we turn off the heat again in the spring.
The best advice we can offer during the fall shoulder season is to close windows when it is cooler out and open them only when it is warmer out. An extra layer of clothing or an extra blanket at night will go a long way until the heat comes on for the rest of the season.
How does the heat work?
Each building has two sensors: one inside the building at a central location, and one outside. The outside sensor will not allow the heat to turn on in the building unless the outside temperature falls below approximately 55° F. Once it is below 55°, the main steam valve to the building will open, allowing heat to circulate throughout the building. The inside sensor communicates to the College's Central Heating computer and is monitored by staff to make sure things are working correctly. At a minimum, the heat in your building will cycle on at least one time every hour if the outside temperature is below 55° F. As the outside temperature gets colder and colder, the computer program allows the heat to stay on longer for each cycle, and/or increases the number of cycles per hour.
If you have any questions blitz: Residential Operations, or call the Residential Operations office at 646-1203.