How to keep your office warm when temperatures are below zero

In the next few days, the low temperatures are predicted to be between -10 and -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Most design firms in our area, however, design heating systems to accommodate outside temperatures down to about -5 degrees Fahrenheit.
(Compare that to ASHRAE’s recommended outside design condition for heating in the Akron/Cleveland area: It was 1 degree Fahrenheit in 2001 and, believe it or not, is 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit as of 2013.)
So there’s a gap between the outdoor temperatures that buildings’ heating systems are designed to handle, and the conditions we’re currently experiencing.
With that in mind, here are several actions you can take to help maintain reasonably comfortable temperatures in your facilities:
  • Keep blinds or drapes closed. This provides an additional insulation layer over windows.
  • Make sure windows and doors are closed tightly and weather stripping is effective at keeping cold air out.
  • If you have override controls to set temperatures back at night, keep them set for daytime temperatures overnight. This way, you can avoid long warm-up periods and excessive heating consumption in the morning.
  • If you have a chilled water cooling system, you want to avoid freeze-ups. Make sure the system is drained or that coil control valves are slightly open and pumps are on to continuously circulate water through the coils.
  • Insulate electrical outlets. Significant heat loss occurs through electrical outlets in outside walls. For long-term protection, you can purchase foam insulators that are installed behind outlet cover plates. For temporary protection, use duct tape around the outlet cover to seal out cold air.
  • Be cautious using electric (or any other type) space heaters. They are a potential fire hazard and can cause electrical circuit overload.
  • If you have any water piping that has a history of freezing, consider letting the water run slightly. That way, you can avoid the stagnant water in piping which can lead to freeze-up.

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