Frequently Asked Questions
What is the set point for thermostats in schools?
Air conditioning systems are set to a comfortable but energy-efficient temperature appropriate for the time of year: 70° during the season when the heaters are used and 76° during the season when the air conditioners are used.
Do you turn off the air conditioning at night and on weekends?
Our district does not turn off the air conditioning systems at night and on weekends. During those times, the thermostats are raised through an automated system to 80 degrees to conserve energy and reduce the district’s substantial yearly electric bill, and wear and tear on the mechanical system.
Do maintenance crews test and repair air conditioning systems over the summer to alleviate repairs at the beginning of the school year?
Our staff and contractors spend the summer months repairing and upgrading systems, but they cannot replicate the conditions that exist when hundreds of students and staff members return to school, opening and closing doors, and taxing air conditioning and electrical systems.
How quickly do maintenance crews respond when an outage or air conditioning issue is reported?
District maintenance prioritizes air conditioning requests based on the largest impact to students and staff. A mechanic or technician will triage the issue and either fix it immediately, order required parts, or call in a more specialized technician or vendor.
What procedures are in place to move classes and ensure student safety if a repair will take longer than 24 to 48 hours?
The district can deploy spot coolers to cool individual classrooms, and in the event of air conditioning loss in multiple classrooms, larger rental chillers are employed. In addition, administrators at school sites ensure that students are moved to different parts of the building with working air conditioning whenever possible.
Would the district’s air conditioning systems work better or last longer if it changed how the systems are set and operated?
The vast majority of our air conditioners run on a programmed computer-controlled timing system, like an advanced version of the “smart thermostat” some people have in their homes. We do this to ensure comfortable learning conditions, prevent stale air or mold problems, support energy efficiency, and reduce unnecessary wear-and-tear on A/C systems.
These air conditioning systems are never fully turned off, so as long as the system is working properly, the air in our buildings is always regulated and kept in a temperature and humidity range that prevents mold or damage from extreme temperatures. Depending on the system, they use either two settings—Occupied and UnOccupied—or three settings—Occupied, Standby, and UnOccupied.
Occupied: Setting used from the start to the end of the school day – Air conditioning systems are set to a comfortable but energy-efficient temperature appropriate for the time of year: 70° during the season when the heaters are used and 76° during the season when the air conditioners are used. Extra systems that bring in outside air to increase circulation are activated. Because of the age of schools and systems, temperatures may vary slightly by one or two degrees. Sample time: Elementary Occupied setting from 7:40am–1:55pm
Standby: Setting used before and after the school day, when staff and some students are generally present – To bring rooms to the right temperature and keep them there when staff and students are using them, systems use the same comfortable but energy-efficient temperatures of 70° (heating) and 76° (cooling). Systems to bring in outside air are not active at this time, which makes cooling and heating more efficient. These settings can be adjusted when needed for specific situations, such as rooms that host afterschool programs. In systems with no “Standby” setting, “Occupied” is used during this time of day. Sample time: Elementary Standby setting from 5:00am–7:40am and 1:55pm–4:00pm
UnOccupied: Setting used overnight and on weekends – Like a “smart thermostat” in a home, after the time when students and staff have left for the day, the thermostat is automatically set to a wider range, for example 55° during heating season and 85° during cooling season. Temperatures rarely reach these numbers, because doors and windows are not open and schools are generally well insulated. But, if that temperature is reached, the heating or A/C systems begin circulating warm or cool air to keep the temperature or humidity in the range that prevents mold or damage from extreme temperatures. The systems are never completely turned off. Sample time: Elementary UnOccupied setting from 4:00pm–5:00am