Winter is here - does your heat work?

Author: Rachel Novick

Over 70 student volunteers went door-to-door in the residence halls on November 16th, giving out 3,000 energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) in exchange for incandescent bulbs and conducting brief energy audits of each dorm room they visited. This was the second CFL exchange of the year – students exchanged 1,400 bulbs in September and were clamoring for more!

Just in time for the first snow, the volunteers asked questions about thermostats and heating systems, as well as computer settings and leaky faucets. Do you know how your heater works? You can do the same audit on your own time.

1. Do your windows shut and latch?
If no – report it here.

2. Is your computer set to go to sleep automatically (standby or hibernate) when you are not using it?
If no, on a PC go to Performance and Maintenance -> Power Options on your Control Panel and choose the “Energy Star” power scheme. On a Mac, go to Apple -> System Preferences, choose “Energy Saver”, and select a time interval for the computer to go to sleep.

3. Do you have furniture pushed up against the radiator?
If yes – give the radiator a few inches to circulate air.

4. Is the plastic cover on your thermostat missing or loose?
If yes – report it here.

5. Has the lever on the side of your thermostat been tampered with (obstructed, taped, etc.)?
If yes – report it here.

6. Do you hear persistent banging in the steam pipes?
If yes – report it here.

7. Do you hear persistent hissing from either your radiator or thermostat?
If yes – report it here.

8. Do you suspect that your thermostat is out of calibration? You turn it all the way down but the heat is still on full blast?
If yes – report it here.

Click here for specific information on the thermostats in your dorm. Direct any other questions or concerns to