Department of Estates

Heating

The heating system is turned off annually at the end of Semester 2 for a period of four months. This will usually take place at the end of May.

The heating is turned back on again at the end of September to coincide with the arrival of students.

Scheduled maintenance work on the boilers and the heating systems is carried out over the summer months.

How the heating works

The space heating at the University is generally provided by ‘wet’ systems where hot water is pumped round the building to radiators.

Across the University a sophisticated Building Management System (BMS) is employed to control the heating. In addition to the regular heating time schedule, 7am to 7pm in most buildings, sensors monitor the outside and inside temperatures and alter the timing and temperature of the heating to achieve the required conditions in the buildings in the most efficient way.

The start time of the heating is automatically altered according to these temperatures to ensure the heating comes on early enough i.e. after the weekend the heating will automatically turn on much earlier than in a building that has been in use the day before. During exceptionally cold periods, however, lower temperatures can be experienced first thing Monday morning, despite the earlier starting of the heating system.

In normal operation the radiators will cut in and out to regulate the building temperature throughout the day, resulting in radiators not always seeming to be ‘hot’ when the heating is on. Also the BMS system has a run-down control, which will turn the heating ‘off’ slightly early if it predicts that the building will not fall below comfort conditions before the end of the heating time schedule.

In addition to the BMS control, Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) are fitted to most radiators. They sense the local air temperature and regulate the flow of the water in the radiator accordingly. These can be used by room occupants to achieve optimum comfort, but should generally be set to a level of 2 or 3 and then left alone.

Turning the TRV up to maximum, set to ‘5’, will not heat the room any quicker, but will increase the likelihood of the room overheating, resulting in windows having to be opened, or resulting in the valve being turned off in the afternoon and then, if left in this setting, resulting in the room being cold the following morning.

Reporting cold rooms

The minimum temperature requirement by the Health and Safety at Work Act is 16°C. If you consider your room to be too cold, please report it to the Department of Estates.

Our maintenance teams will investigate whether the heating systems are functioning correctly. We may arrange to monitor the temperature of the room and take readings to assess the level of problem. When the data has been collated, we will confirm whether or not repairs or alterations are needed and carry out any necessary work.

Portable heaters

University policy is that the use of portable heaters is forbidden unless approved by the Department of Estates.

If an additional heat source, e.g. a portable electric radiator, is added to a room, or placed near a BMS sensor or radiator TRV, the system could be fooled into thinking that the building is warmer than it actually is, thus turning off either the radiator or the heating to the whole building. The effect of this will clearly be to reduce the overall temperature in the building or room.

Portable heaters are a highly inefficient and very expensive way of heating, with a much greater carbon impact than normal gas central heating systems. They are also potentially unsafe, both as a fire hazard and in terms of overloading electrical circuits.

Download the leaflet

How the heating works