SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — The dramatic rise in the price of natural gas is causing Southwest Texas State University to adjust its thermostats. A newly approved university policy requires that thermostats be set at 68-70 degrees during the heating season and 74-76 degrees during the cooling season.
The university generates approximately half of the electricity consumed on campus, and the engine that turns its generator is fueled by natural gas. The electricity the university purchases from off-campus sources reflects the rising natural gas prices in a fuel adjustment charge. The cost of gas in February 2001 is more than double last year’s price.
“Last year the university spent $3.2 million for natural gas. This year we project spending more than $5 million,” said Pat Fogarty, assistant vice president for facilities.
Implementing the new policy will require the cooperation of students, faculty and staff. While some buildings on campus can be centrally controlled by the university’s energy management computer system, there are many zones within buildings that are controlled by the building occupant using a thermostat. The Facilities Department will begin adjusting the temperatures in the next few days, and occupants who have locally controlled thermostats are being asked to make thermostat adjustments immediately.
“Building occupants who have been accustomed to temperatures outside of these approved ranges may need to modify their habits to ensure comfort. Long-sleeve shirts or a sweater may be needed in the winter, and light attire may be needed in the summer to remain comfortable,” said Fogarty.
Special circumstances may dictate varying from the approved temperature range, particularly in buildings that have humidity problems. Occupants experiencing discomfort are asked to call the Facilities Department at 245-2148 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Saving energy saves money, helps keep tuition and fee increases in check and allows more money to be spent on academic programs and less money on operating our physical plant,” said Fogarty.
The new policy was recommended by SWT’s recently established Energy Conservation Committee and approved by the President’s Cabinet.