The heating (and air conditioning where available) systems in RISD Residence halls vary by location. Below is a description of how different systems work in different areas of campus.
Hill Houses at RISD are heated (no air conditioning is available) using a central boiler similar to many private homes. Heat is available at almost any time of the year if called for. Some Hill House bedrooms have a fan unit in the room which can help to control the temperature in a specific bedroom by turning the fan to high, low, or off. A small door on the wall mounted fan coil accesses the fan switch. Note that even if the fan is not running, if the floor or area is calling for heat, there will be hot water running through the coil, and some heat will be transferred into the room, even if the fan is off. In other buildings, a baseboard radiator is used and there is no fan control. A louver on the baseboard may be opened or closed to increase or decrease the amount of heat delivered to the room.
Colonial + Dwight Apartments
Benefit Street Apartments (Colonial and Dwight) are heated (no AC) by boilers within the building, similar to Hill Houses. Baseboard radiators are used to heat the rooms. A louver on the baseboard may be opened or closed to increase or decrease the amount of heat delivered to the room.
South, Nickerson, and Homer Halls
These Quad buildings have heat and air conditioning supplied by a central heating and cooling system which supplies either hot water (during heating season) or cold water (cooling season) to the entire quad (except North). Thermostats are located in each room which control the fan operation. Even when the fan is not on, there is water circulating through the unit, which means there may be warm or cold air coming from the vents, even when the fan is not on.
It’s important to understand that the quad (excluding North) as a whole can only be in cooling or heating mode – not both. That means that during some times of the year, cooling or heating will not be available in your room, even if your room is not at your desired temperature. Facilities staff monitors the weather carefully to determine when the system should be switched over from cooling to heating or back to cooling. As this is not a simple process, it is typically performed only for significant and prolonged weather changes.
East hall works similarly to South, Homer, and Nickerson, except that it has two systems in each room. A fan coil unit on the ceiling provides air conditioning during warm weather, and wall mounted baseboard radiators provide heating in cool weather. Therefore the thermostat in your room only controls the temperature during air conditioning periods. A louver on the baseboard may be opened or closed to increase or decrease the amount of heat delivered to the room. Like the rest of the quad, East Hall can only be in cooling or heating mode – not both. See above for more information.
North Hall is heated and cooled using state of the art electric heat pumps which can heat and cool rooms at the same time. Each room has temperature control and the system is advanced enough to be able to move heat from a room calling for cooling to a nearby room calling for heat, regardless of the time of year or outside weather conditions.
15 Westminster rooms offer both heating and air conditioning and thermostats generally control the temperature within the full apartment, suite, or loft. There is no switchover between heating and cooling seasons, allowing for individual room control at all times of the year.