Event Title

How Lowering Thermostat Set Points Influences Student Comfort and Behavior

Location

Virtual presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

5-2-2020 5:00 PM

Abstract

Oberlin College has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. One major producer of carbon emissions is our heating system. Current plans to achieve carbon neutrality include altering the fuel source of the current heating system, which is currently based on natural gas. Until this solution is fully executed, however, other actions can be taken to reduce Oberlin’s carbon emissions via thermal regulation. One approach is reducing the thermostat set point in dorms across campus. Reducing the thermostat setting will not only reduce carbon emissions, but also has the potential to increase students’ comfort and reduce costs of heating the dorms. Temperature sensors were placed in two dormitories, and a temperature reduction of three degrees was coordinated with facilities. Students in the dorms were surveyed before and after the temperature reduction regarding the perceived temperature of their dorm, as well as the frequency with which they felt too cold/hot in their room. It was found that the common rooms showed a significant temperature decrease following the policy change, averaging two degrees, while only a few dorm rooms showed a meaningful difference. Further investigation is necessary to see if this discrepancy arises from self-regulating behavior such as window opening. It was also found that students reported being too hot in their rooms less often, with no difference in the number of students reporting being too cold. These results support a campus-wide policy change for the thermostat set point in dorms.

Keywords:

Carbon footprint, Energy use, Residential habits, Thermal comfort

Notes

Click here to view this poster at the Office of Undergraduate Research website from April 27-May 2, 2020.

Major

Psychology

Project Mentor(s)

Cindy Frantz, Psychology

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Apr 27th, 8:00 AM May 2nd, 5:00 PM

How Lowering Thermostat Set Points Influences Student Comfort and Behavior

Virtual presentation

Oberlin College has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. One major producer of carbon emissions is our heating system. Current plans to achieve carbon neutrality include altering the fuel source of the current heating system, which is currently based on natural gas. Until this solution is fully executed, however, other actions can be taken to reduce Oberlin’s carbon emissions via thermal regulation. One approach is reducing the thermostat set point in dorms across campus. Reducing the thermostat setting will not only reduce carbon emissions, but also has the potential to increase students’ comfort and reduce costs of heating the dorms. Temperature sensors were placed in two dormitories, and a temperature reduction of three degrees was coordinated with facilities. Students in the dorms were surveyed before and after the temperature reduction regarding the perceived temperature of their dorm, as well as the frequency with which they felt too cold/hot in their room. It was found that the common rooms showed a significant temperature decrease following the policy change, averaging two degrees, while only a few dorm rooms showed a meaningful difference. Further investigation is necessary to see if this discrepancy arises from self-regulating behavior such as window opening. It was also found that students reported being too hot in their rooms less often, with no difference in the number of students reporting being too cold. These results support a campus-wide policy change for the thermostat set point in dorms.