March 30, 2013

PSU dorm temperatures a "Goldilocks" tale

PLATTSBURGH — Shirin Mehri’s room on the first floor of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Adirondack Residence Hall gets very hot in winter.

Denisse Penafort, who lives on the second floor of that dorm, says her room gets cold, and the heat barely comes on.

Student Helen Affinati lives on the second floor of Adirondack Hall; she says her room temperature is usually fine, with the exception of a draft leaking through the window sometimes.


A sampling of students who make their homes in some of the dorms on campus reported varied degrees of comfort, temp-wise, in their rooms.

Why such such fluctuations?

The college’s central heating plant distributes hot-water heat through radiators in the 12 dorms.

Every building has central thermostats located in the lounges of each, Assistant Director of Facilities William Circelli said. 

The buildings are divided into zones, each of which is controlled by a thermostat.

Most of the high-rise dorms have four zones, he said, with thermostats on the even-numbered floors; the low-rise dorms have more zones per floor, so temperature regulation can be more precise.

Macdonough and Hood halls, both recently renovated, now boast thermostats in every room.

Nine other residence halls are slated for upgrades over the next nine years and will offer that convenience as well, Circelli said.


Students in some dorms can adjust the temperature right in their rooms.

Kent Hall resident Sonia Bennett says her first-floor room is usually cold, but she can use the valve on the radiator to warm it up.

Director of Residents Bryan Hartman explained that the valves on the radiators don’t actually hike up the heat. Rather, they open the vents to allow for the better flow of heat. 

The construction of the buildings plays a role in how cold or warm the rooms are, he said, and there is not a lot of flexibility or adjustability for the heating in older buildings because many of the rooms don’t have their own thermostats.

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