Air Conditioning & Heating

Each winter, Housing & Residential Life addresses the question of when to turn the heat on. You may be under the impression that it doesn’t get that cold in Tucson, however, our dry desert air will start to cool off steeply at night in the winter months. When several hundred people live in one building, this can lead to a challenge as we try to meet everyone’s needs.

The University of Arizona currently uses two different methods of heating and cooling in our dorms: Direct Expansion and Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator systems. Because of the different systems, the process for turning the heat on varies by building.

Each dorm has a different plan to switch over to heat or air conditioning, which has been approved by your Hall Council. Some buildings use a petition system (requiring a percentage of the building to sign) and some look at the weather forecast. For dorm-specific information, please reach out to your resident assistant (RA). We ask that as you are making requests to change from cooling, neutral, or heat you allow for a week in between making additional requests/changes.

Here’s a basic description of each system by dorm, including some of their unique characteristics:

If you live in:

  • Honors Village
  • Pima Lodge

Honors Village and Pima Lodge have a Direct Expansion System which generally means it offers both heating and cooling ‘on demand’ so a resident may adjust the temperature according to their needs.

If you live in:

  • Hopi

Each student room in the Hopi dorm has a direct expansion window AC unit, which means it only offers only cooling from the window unit. Heating is available only from a wall radiator system available after steam is turned on in the building. Hopi has two separate systems to heat and cool student spaces.

If you live in:

  • Apache-Santa Cruz
  • Arizona-Sonora
  • Babcock
  • Cochise
  • Coconino
  • Coronado
  • Graham-Greenlee
  • Kaibab-Huachuca
  • Manzanita-Mohave
  • Maricopa
  • Navajo-Pinal
  • Yavapai
  • Yuma

These dorms have a Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator Two-Pipe System: This system uses low-pressure steam heat exchangers to heat the building heating water. The entire building is in either a heating water set, an off-neutral set, or a cooling chilled water set. The changeover setting from heating to cooling or vice versa is made manually, and there is always the possibility that unusual weather patterns may cause some occupants temporary discomfort.

If you live in:

  • Árbol de la Vida
  • Colonia de la Paz
  • Gila
  • Likins
  • Pima House
  • Posada San Pedro
  • Pueblo de la Cienega
  • Villa Del Puente

These dorms have a Fan Coil/Unit Ventilator Four-Pipe System: Much like the two-pipe system, this system uses chilled water and steam from the central plant. The four-pipe system includes a distribution system that contains both hot and chilled water supply. While this means that heating and cooling are usually available on demand without a manual changeover, in some small cases, a four-pipe system may not always provide heat comfort to all occupants. In these cases, the heating will not kick in until the outside temps drop below 60 degrees.