An extreme heat wave has been continuing for weeks. The media announced that it was ‘The worst heat wave Korea has ever been through’, along with news on how ‘Heat wave lasts the longest days’, and ‘Citizens cannot fall asleep by tropical night’. Definitely, this summer has been sweltering with heat. However in this heat wave there are some places where people can enjoy the cool summer. Do you want to know where they are? To name a few, there are department stores, banks and on campus.
It’s cool in the campus library!
Of course if you walk around campus, it’s really hot. However generally, anyone can turn on the air conditioners and set the temperature, especially in the library. In the campus classrooms there are differences between each classroom. Some classrooms rely on centralized controlling of the air conditioners while other classes give students the power to control the air-conditioning system. Therefore let’s focus on the campus library in this article. Summer vacation is from July to August, the hottest months. During this season, fewer students come to campus because the air conditioning rate is lower than that during the semester. However due to the abnormal climate this year, it is still hot in September. For this reason, we cannot be optimistic about the air conditioners’ operation rate. We cannot ignore the electricity waste caused by the air conditioner. In the library, the air conditioners are installed at regular intervals. Students can turn them on and off, and control the temperature. For example, if students feel hot and humid they can just turn on the air conditioners so they do not have to change their seats where the air conditioners are working. When they leave the library they do not have to turn them off. In fact, even though there is nobody in the library, it is often the case that the air conditioners are left with the temperature set below 26 degrees Celsius. The government recommends temperature be set closer to 26 degree Celsius. The reason why we should be careful about the electricity waste of the air conditioners is that the first floor in the library is open all year around and open 24 hours
How about other university’s libraries?
The situation is similar in other universities as well. Almost every private university such as Sookmyung Women’s University, Sungkyunkwan University, Soongsil University, Hansung University and so on do not control the air conditioners. This is also similar to national universities like Seoul National University and Korea Maritime University. Though there are more controls on air conditioners in the classrooms than private universities, the library is an exception. Another problem is that libraries are open all year round for 24 hours a day in both private and national universities. Students usually say that the library is too cold because of the low temperature. Therefore some students take a blanket or outerwear when they go to the library. Evidently, there are ups and downs to having air conditioners in the library. If improperly used, library’s air conditioning system can be the greatest contributing factor to wasting electricity.
Nowadays Korea is suffering from severe shortage of electricity. Electricity alerts have been announced frequently and electric power reserve rate often falls below 5%. Already, institutions like the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) forecast there would be massive power outage this year. If the massive power outage happens, people will have to face drastic problems. To prevent this, the government recommends the air conditioners temperature be set around 26 degrees Celsius or higher. Recently government offices and public enterprises, turned the air conditioners off. In addition, in order to solve the severe shortage of electricity, the government restarted the Gori Nuclear Power Plant. Due to the consistent effort of government offices and public enterprises along with the operation of the Gori Nuclear Power Plant, the government was able to prevent the massive power outage, just barely. Despite this situation, universities are wasting electricity without thinking. Surely some people may ask how big universities’ electricity usage could culminate in the country's massive power outage. However these days, in times when the government could just barely prevent the massive power outage, something as trivial as campus air conditioning is very important.
University students are adults. We are not middle school and high school students. Therefore it is absurd to restrict the air conditioners operating time like middle school and high school. If the students voluntarily turn off the air conditioners when there are no people and set the air conditioners’ temperature above 26 degrees Celsius, the electricity waste can be much lower than before. However since this solution is only recommendation and not a compulsory rule, there is a possibility that it may be ineffective. However as mentioned above, university students are adults. Adults are different in that they can think logically, thereby following the recommendations.
If voluntary participation is not enough, unavoidably compulsory plans are needed. But as written above, restricting the air conditioners’ operating time is absurd. So until students can operate the air conditioners themselves, if the school sees electricity usage as a problem, they should just limit the temperature, not the time.
Another solution is to operate the library air conditioners like the subway air conditioners. To get rid of the citizens’ inconvenience caused by the different sensory temperature, the subway introduced ‘less cooling compartment’. Less cooling compartment is the compartment for the people who feel cold more than other ordinary people. In the less cooling compartment, it is much warmer than other compartments. For example, subway line 5’s less cooling compartment is in the 4th, 5th, and 6th compartment. Before people take in to the subway line 5, there is a notice where the weak cooling compartment is. Thus people can choose where compartment to ride. Like the people on the subway there must be students who feel cold more easily than others in the library. Universities can adopt this system, thereby designating less cooling compartment in the library. By doing so, electricity waste will decrease and efficient library management will be possible.
Some students may argue that they have a right to control the air conditioning system given the fact that they pay a great deal to go to school. However it is absurd for the school to be using the students’ tuition only for paying electricity bill.
Student interview (School of Business, junior)
1. How often do you come to the library?
Four times a week
2. Do you think the current air conditioner temperature in the library is adequate?
I think sometimes it is too cold. And some of my friends complain about the temperature.
3. Can you elaborate?
We carry our blankets and jackets. It's really bothersome. And there are many students who caught cold because it was too cold in the library. Especially during the vacation, not many students come to the library. Even though there are only a few people, just as many air conditioners are operating as on a typical school day.
4. Government recommends the air conditioners’ temperature to be set above 26 degrees Celsius. How many air conditioners in the library are set lower than 26 degrees Celsius?
I think almost all air conditioners in the library are set lower than 26 degrees Celsius.
5. In the 5th paragraph, there are some solutions. Which solutions do you like best?
The 3rd solution.
6. Why do you think so?
All solutions mentioned in the 5th paragraph are effective to reduce electricity waste. But I think the 3rd one is the best. Because it can satisfy almost every student’s needs.
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