ECO Cares About Your Comfort & Saving Energy

chart referencing possible causes for too hot or too cold

The new TherMOOstat landing page includes a map indicating the buildings in which people feel the hottest and coldest.

In 2016, the Energy Conservation Office’s TherMOOstat (thermoostat.ucdavis.edu) received nearly 7,000 submissions from students, staff and faculty. Some of them were funny “I am so sweaty! My neighbors don't appreciate how stinky I am. Help me help them! Turn down da heat!” and some of them were sad. But every single one of them was read, and quite a few led to comfort-inducing and energy-saving fixes. TherMOOstat is a website designed by ECO where you can share how you think your room feels. It was created to crowdsource temperature data because as TherMOOstat project manager Kiernan Salmon claims, “you can save energy, while making people more comfortable in their offices, conference rooms and break rooms.” 

Help Them to Help You

TherMOOstat isn’t new – it’s been around since the fall of 2014, but this month, the ECO team launched a new version aimed at helping you provide them with more actionable details about the temperature in your room. It also offers a revamped interface and new features like a map pinpointing the hottest and coldest spots on campus, and tips from TherMOOstat’s biggest supporter, Joules the Cow.

It’s not easy for Facilities Management to provide heating and cooling that’s just right for everyone using the space. After all, thermostats on campus often serve multiple rooms with different occupancy levels/patterns, and people within them that likely have different temperature preferences. However, through TherMOOstat feedback, the ECO team has implemented a number of easy fixes that you might identify in your own office:

  • Poorly located thermostats, like one stuck behind a heat-radiating computer monitor. Any thermostat located near something that generates heat or cold can cause comfort problems in your space.
  • Thermostats still using summer set points in the dead of winter. Getting blasted with heat in the summer months is no fun, and something that can be easily remedied.
  • Inconsistencies between the room use and the HVAC programming. For example, if your new office was originally used as a computer server room, you might find it a little uncomfortable now that it’s just you in there.
  • There are many different types of thermostats on campus, and some give occupants have the ability to change temperature. ECO has helped people locate and learn to use their thermostats. One thing is universal across all thermostats – pressing any of the buttons harder or faster will not give you more of whatever you want it to do.
  • Closed ventilation vents hinder airflow. Please don’t get on your chair to check – Facilities Management technicians have ladders for that purpose. One closed vent can affect your comfort, as well as the comfort of others around you. 
photo of john and jessica at a computer

John Coon and Jessica Galvan read every TherMOOstat submission.

What Happens With Your Submission(s)

Jessica Galvan and John Coon are the two staff members reading all your TherMOOstat feedback. They can receive up to 300 submissions in a busy month. First, they compare your too hot or too cold submissions to performance data pulled from the building’s heating, ventilation and air condition systems (HVAC). If they can’t troubleshoot or fix your issue remotely, it may need a visit or work order, which they can help determine and submit one for you. With your feedback they can also identify if your room is chronically hot or cold, which means improvements to occupant comfort may coincide with energy savings. This duo can also leave temperature data loggers in a space to track the room temperature against the thermostat’s readings and gather some additional data points for comparison.

Not every problem has an easy solution remedied by tweaks to the HVAC system. Some comfort issues are variations in personal temperature preferences and others are more complicated technical issues. However, if you and your colleagues all bundle up for your weekly staff meeting, then please consider starting that meeting by each sending feedback through TherMOOstat. Likewise, if there’s a steady stream of traffic to and from your offices’ shared thermostat, send us some feedback before a thermostat war erupts. For example, in Tupper Hall, the TherMOOstat team once found a thermostat located in a hallway that controls six offices. With the help of Facilities HVAC technicians and a few tries adjusting the set point, we finally achieved a comfortable temperature in the offices.

this is a chart explaining common comfort issues on campus.

Want to Learn More About TherMOOstat

The ECO blog features a wealth of information on campus energy-saving projects, how HVAC systems work, how to avoid a thermostat war, and a particularly helpful post about What Your Comments are Telling Us. Give it a read and find out how to submit more actionable TherMOOstat feedback.

Need to Submit a Work Order?

ECO uses your TherMOOstat feedback to crowdsource comfort trends on campus. Please note that TherMOOstat is not a substitute for submitting a work order. If you have an issue that needs more immediate attention please submit a work order through the Facilities Management Customer Support Center.