Dear Sustainable Abigail,
I live on the third floor of a house on Frye Street and, up until recently, I’ve really loved living there. But with the changing weather and the heat being turned on, my room has become a horribly hot place to spend time in. I know that opening my window wastes energy, but if I don’t open it then it’s so hot I can’t bear to spend any time in there (not to mention I’d be far too uncomfortable to sleep!). Nonetheless, I really do try to do my part when it comes to sustainability, so I feel pretty guilty about having to leave my window open. Is there anything I can do to resolve this issue? Or is it a no-win situation?
-Hot and bothered
Dear Hot and bothered,
I too have lived in many rooms on campus that get unbearably hot during the heating season, and I know how uncomfortable it can be. I also know how frustrating it can be to feel like the only option is to waste a lot energy and open a window. Fortunately, there actually is a solution to this common dilemma! A service that a lot of Bates students don’t know about is the Bates Facility Services’ work order request process. It’s very simple: by submitting a form online to https://www.bates.edu/facility/customer-services/work-orders/ or by calling this number 207-786-6449 and describing your concerns, someone from Facility Services will come by and help you out. In regards to heating, sometimes the system itself just needs a mend, and by alerting Facility Services to the issue it can be fixed in no time! I know what you might be thinking, “Abigail, that sounds like a lot of effort when the window solution is easy and helps me just the same.” Yes, this is true, opening a window can obviously cool down a hot room. However, it is also incredibly wasteful. In the winter, windows lose more heat per square foot of area than any other service in the home (https://www.e-education.psu.edu/egee102/node/2017), and that’s why they are closed! By opening windows during the heating season, the hot air is escaping and the cold air is coming in (how much of each is dependent on the size of the opening, the weather outside, and ultimately the flow rate of the air). Yet, the heating system is still running to attempt to keep the room at the warmer temperature, and so it is now working harder to counteract the cold air. Of course, this is not news to you: the open window is a direct waste of natural gas, oil, electricity–whatever energy system is behind the heating, (on Frye Street, that would be renewable fuel oil). But now you have the tools to avoid this wasteful behavior!
It is really important to think about how your every action impacts sustainability, and it’s great that you reached out with this very common issue. Seeing how it is super easy to put in a work order request, and how quickly the heating issue will be resolved, it’s a great service to utilize and tell your friends about! This is especially important as we approach Thanksgiving break, for it would be a shame to have windows left open when no one is even in the rooms. We can work together to not overheat and still stay sustainable by utilizing the work order request line and encouraging others to use it too. Thanks for reaching out!