Freezer or Sauna? Ipswich Classrooms

Chase Gagnon

Too hot? Too cold? The heating system never gets it right. The controls to heating either partially work or don’t work at all. Centralized heating was initially built into the walls and ceilings of this school that is not fully insulated. The boiler system has two boilers that have three-way valves. These could be used to save energy but are not.

he thermostat system has caused many complaints in the faculty. Mr. Ames noted that in his room, “The thermostat does not work.” The Energy Audit Program report for Ipswich Public Schools, published in 2010, states that unoccupied areas of the building or areas that have little activity have their thermostats reduced and are seasonally adjusted. This may explain some opinions of areas that are constantly cold. “It is pretty cold in the PAC [Performing Arts Center],” Nick Fonzi, a senior, pointed out.

The lack of heat in some areas of the high school has different reasons. One would be the lack of insulation. The audit states that “The building was constructed of structural steel. Once the steel was put up, a brick veneer was constructed around the building, and the interior wall construction consists of an air gap inside the brick veneer, a six-inch steel stud-wall with sheet-rock on the inside and fiberglass insulation between the studs.” The document also has reports of air leakage throughout the building after an infrared test was conducted.  This leads to the conclusion of the cold hallways and cold rooms in the C, E, and F-wing. The heat loss is not the sole problem as it also creates a low efficiency in energy savings, increasing the cost of heat.

There have been efforts made to prevent heat loss by putting weatherstripping under doors, but this would save only a small amount of heat loss compared to the large amount already being lost. There are also maintenance factors that play a role in how much heat remains inside the building. The custodians do their best to tend to all problems within the building while making sure other heating units remain operational.

Now there may be problems due to lack of heat, but there are also complaints of too much heat. In the words of Stephen Moore, a senior, “The entire system is broken and Mrs. Ham’s room is completely evident of this. I sweat more in the winter in that room than I do during the summer.  The system in the orchestra room wasn’t fixed the last time it broke.” Mr. Ames’ room is also a notable room for overheating. Mr. Ames said, “you either turn the system on or off; the thermostat does not work.” This leads to his room reaching high temperatures, forcing people to ventilate the heat to the outside which wastes the heat generated.

Other complaints are directed towards the band room. As Max Mainwell, a junior, said, “The band room is either too hot or too cold. I am positioned by the door so whenever it is too hot the door is opened next to me.” There are many complaints.

Mr. Sargeant shared an explosive story that happened in his room that earned it a yellow carpet. He explained, “Four years ago the heating pipes broke due to freezing temperatures. The water flooded the room and kept rising, eventually reaching the heating unit. The computers were fine but the carpet was ruined.” The carpet needed to be replaced and the best option was the distinct yellow carpet.

The school has undergone numerous large scale repairs with the maintenance and heat loss; a lot has been invested in keeping the school in shape. The school is on a limited budget and with the losses incorporated due to heat issues it leaves only so much left for the school to spend on other priorities.