MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It promises to be a chilly Christmas break at the University of Minnesota. That’s because the University will be turning down the heat in most buildings to save money.
The power bill will be cheaper and so will labor costs.
Some employees will be taking a three-day furlough over the holiday weekend, which will also help with costs.
The only buildings that will operate as normal are the hospital, some labs and a few residence halls. O fficials say they could save as much as $160,000 in heating costs over a 10-day period.
After 10 p.m. Thursday, the big fans that heat most of the facilities on campus will be operating about 80 percent less of the time for the next week and a half.
“We do it typically on weekends and we’ve done holiday schedules before where we’ve greatly reduced it, but not anything near 10 days in a row,” said Greg Berger, Associate Director for Facilities Management East Bank.
The heat won’t be shut off completely, but it will run on a very minimal schedule. Every third day maintenance workers will turn on the heat and cycle the air, just to make sure things don’t freeze up. The goal is to not allow any of the buildings to drop below 60 degrees during the next 10 days.
In reality, few people will be left in the cold. Residence halls, for those students staying over the break, will be heated as normal. And most employees will be working from home.
“I think it’s a great thing that the University should do. It’s a good way to save a little bit of money,” said Geida Marin, who works for the University’s admissions office.
The exact savings will be about $16,000 a day for a University feeling the heat of a tight budget.
“I’m honestly OK with it. I understand the reasons why … as a cost-saving measures to save the University money. At a time like this, I think it’s appropriate to do,” said University of Minnesota employee Bill Cleveland.
There will be maintenance workers monitoring the buildings over the next 10 days to make sure they don’t get too cold.
University officials say cost-saving measure is being used to compensate for the significant reduction in state funding for the University of Minnesota.
The University will also be saving about $18 million in labor, which includes the three-day furlough for hourly employees and a temporary reduction in pay for faculty and staff, which began in July.
WCCO-TV’s John Lauritsen Reports