As the seasons change and so does the weather, I often receive a number of complaints: some say it’s too cold in the church and others tell me it’s too warm. I wanted to spend a moment to let you know a bit more about our parish’s HVAC system and what we try to do to keep it comfortable in the church.
You may not know it, but there are five different heating systems in our building. The boilers heat the church (nave and sanctuary), the school, and the rectory. There are separate forced air furnaces that heat the gathering space, the parish offices, the cafeteria, and the church basement. There are also electric baseboard heaters in the offices for “make up” heat. None of these systems ‘talk’ to one another so it can be common to have one area cold and the other warm, even when the thermostats are seemingly set to the same temperature.
We try to keep the church’s temperature between 68°F and 70°F. For some, this might seem cold; for others, this is warm. Everyone keeps their own dwelling at their preferred temperature. Why do we try to keep the church at this temperature? Most people in church have coats on in the fall and winter so if they are cold, they can keep them on; otherwise, they can take them off. Also, there are no air vents in the sanctuary and the priests can get very warm with vestments on. The temperature is usually 2–3 degrees warmer in the sanctuary and I do not think you want your priests passing out during Mass. Finally, the parish’s natural gas bill is about $10,000 a year (probably more this winter!)—and most of that is spent for heating in the winter.
Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve said “try” a lot. While our boilers are relatively new, the control system is very hard to use. We have very little control over the temperature and when the system comes on—not to mention that the systems do not ‘talk’ to each other. We are looking into a new control system for the HVAC system and might use some campaign money for that since, as you might imagine, it’s not a small cost. However, it would give us much more control with the systems.
In the meantime, I encourage you to dress warmly if you’re cold or to dress in layers if you’re warm. One hint: the perimeter of the pews receives the least amount of air from the vents. If you sit in the middle of the pews, you’ll notice the air blowing more. We’ve tried to adjust where the air blows but there is little we can do. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3:66–67)