Heating and Cooling Transition

There are a variety of heating and cooling systems installed in Bates campus buildings. Heating and cooling systems are seasonal in operation. Heating systems typically start up in mid October, and are secured in early to mid June. Cooling systems typically start up in June and are secured in October. The timing is  based primarily on sustained outside temperature conditions. Exact dates can fluctuate annually a week or two either direction because of experienced conditions. There are many reasons why we choose to operate in this capacity such as, energy efficiency/conservation, avoiding overheating of less controllable buildings, cooling and heating system competition, complexity and idiosyncrasies of district heating systems, control system limitations, and more. 

Maine weather in Spring and Fall can vary from 35°F to 60°F in as little as 4-5 hours, and can have short spells (2-3 days) of unseasonable low or high temperatures before returning to normal. These radical changes are not compensated well by building environmental control systems and can lead to many of the above mentioned undesirable conditions. Typically, these fluctuations will smooth out and either remain cooler or warmer depending on the seasonal transition. This is the target we try to hit and provides the best results for sustained building occupant comfort.

Our Central Steam Plant serves many of the larger buildings on campus, including the majority of larger residential buildings. Buildings that are served by the plant are generally only equipped with a small heating system to produce hot water during the summer months. These locations may experience some cooler temperatures until the Central Plant is started up.

The Central Steam Plant is brought online slowly to ensure proper operation, and we gradually distribute the steam through our underground distribution lines to make sure there are no leaks, that we flush out our condensate return lines and that our steam valves, regulators and steam traps are working properly. This approach allows us time to address any problems we might encounter. 

During the start-up process, it is normal to hear small banging and clanging noises as the piping warms up and we come up to full pressure. Inevitably there are new issues that are discovered every year as the plant is brought online. It is not uncommon to experience leaks or lack of heating in isolated locations as the kinks are worked out of the system.

Once the steam plant is fully operational, if your room is too hot or too cold, please check your thermostat and be sure it is set properly.  Our website has an informative section – Knowing Your Heat that will help you adjust your thermostat properly. If you still have a problem after checking the thermostat, we want to hear from you. 

Please be sure to submit a work request by clicking here,  by e-mail to facility-work-request@groups.bates.edu, or by phone call to our work request line at 207-786-6449.  Please call us to report that a room is too hot or too cold so we can work to correct the problem.