Where’s the heat?

  • Published
  • By Ron Uecker
  • KMC Housing Office
Fall is here! There is a chill in the air and the leaves are turning color. So where is the heat?

Before answering that question, let's provide some background. Most of the buildings in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, including housing, are connected to central hot water heating plants. These plants produce hot water and distribute it to our buildings to provide building heat through radiators.

We are blessed with mild temperatures from mid-May to the beginning of October. The average monthly temperature for May through August is 62 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer months, so little heat is needed that heat generated by people, cooking stoves, household appliances, lights, sunlight through windows, etc., is adequate to keep inside temperatures comfortable.

In 1992, we began turning off portions of the central heat system during the summer months to save fuel costs. That first season, we saved more than $400,000 in heating fuel!

So when is the heat turned on? The rule is, five consecutive days with average daily outside temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a five-day forecast for more of the same, as determined by weather. Historically, this has usually occurred during the first two weeks in October.

I am still cold -- what do I do? First, conserve the heat you already have. Close your windows and window coverings at night to reduce heat loss through the windows. Keep the doors to seldom-used rooms closed to keep heat in the rooms you use most.

Second, take advantage of natural heating. Open drapes and roll-ladens during the day so that the sun can warm the inside of the room like the sun warms the inside of your car. If it is warmer outside than inside, open the windows to allow the warm outside air into the room. Close the windows in the evening when the outside temperatures begin to drop.

Once the heat is on how do I turn it on? Your radiator control is both the thermostat and the valve that controls the amount of hot water that flows through the radiator. For the control to work properly, it must be surrounded by free circulating air. Do not cover it with clothes, curtains or furniture, as it will not work properly.

Please note that the radiators do not provide instant heat. Hot water must pass through the radiator and the heat from the radiator transferred to the room. Set the thermostat and allow time for temperature of the room to come up before making any more adjustments.

Radiators are usually located below windows, which is normally the coldest part of the room. A setting of "3" should provide comfortable heat for the entire room. The thermostat-radiator combination is a simple and reliable combination.
There are a few moving parts to malfunction. It is possible for the valve to malfunction, in which case there will be either no heat or too much heat. If your radiator is making gurgling noises, it most likely has some air trapped inside. The air should be removed for optimum performance.

By following these simple steps, you will feel comfortable and also help save energy as directed by the U.S. President, and be good stewards of the resources provided to us by the American people.