Physical Plant keeps cool during warm weather season

William Lee

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Stephanie Schiltz studies in her room next to the vent.-Marta Ciszewski/Asst. Photo Editor”Air and heating” It’s 8 a.m., time for you to get ready for your first class of the day and the temperature in your room is around 55 degrees.

If you’re living in the residence halls, this may be something you probably experience every morning.

“The heat (should have been) on Oct. 1,” Suzann Morrison, Lincoln Hall resident, said.

“If I had a choice I’d rather be hot than cold because you can always sit in your room and put on some shorts or open your window (if you’re hot).

When you’re cold you can put on (more clothing) and you’re still cold; there’s nothing you can do. I can’t even do my homework in my room; I’d rather sit in the lounge because it’s warmer in the lounge than it is in my room.”

The fluctuating temperatures have made for some unpleasant nights for students in the residence halls.

But there may be relief on the way. WIU’s Heating Plant Annex may begin switching residence halls from air conditioning to heating within the next few weeks due to the forecast for cooler temperatures.

“We’re in transition period between cooling and heating,” Don Strohecker, chief building operating engineer, said.

“When the long-range forecast looks like we’re going to be in the (30-degree range) for several days, then we’ll start turning (heating) systems on.”

Changing the heating and cooling system over is no easy task. “It’s not like your thermostat at home where you can just change it from heating to cooling,” Strohecker said.

“We’ve got a process of changing over from heating to cooling … you can’t control it like you can a thermostat.”

To change the buildings over from cooling to heating, mechanical changes, such as switching the heating coils, must be made to the main control panel. These are changes that Heating Plant workers would only like to do once if possible.

“It’s not a situation where if it is warm out today, we can turn on the air conditioning and tomorrow it’s 50 degrees … you just can’t turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heat,” Jude Kiah, residence hall director for Wetzel Hall, said.

“Sometimes the students don’t understand how the decisions work. It might be 60 degrees today, but the next three days it’s going to be in the 70s and you’re going to want the air conditioning then, so we try to keep it on for as long as possible for their benefit and comfort.