It's the same every winter: temperatures go down and chances of catching a cold go up. In order not to freeze to death many students thus turn on their heaters. But even if the facilities work many students still reduce the hours of heating to an absolute minimum due to high costs. Some reports suggest that as a result up to a half of all students who fall ill do so because they live in accommodation with insufficient or malfunctioning heating.
How to to deal best with a cold student room very much depends on your individual situation, i.e. the condition of the property you're living in. However, there are a few general things you can and shoud do to survive freezing temperatures in your student accommodation:
In Case of a Malfunction, inform your Landlord ASAP
Regardless of whether you keep it running for one, two, or twelve hours, your landlord has to ensure that the heating system in your accommodation works. The same applies to the boiler and electricity supply. The tenancy contract should have a section that clearly states this, i.e. lists these aspects as part of his/her key responsibilities. It is therefore recommendable that you discuss these issues with the landlord before you sign the contract and move in.
Indeed, not every property used as student accommodation meets all modern standards. Especially older properties can turn into cold storage facilties between November and February/March. But it's still your landlords duty to provide you with the most basic services, which ideally include a working heating system, hot water, and and a safe power supply. If there is a problem with any of these you should let him/her know about it as soon as possible, so sh/e can solve it right away. If your landlord is not responsive to your requests or seems to be reluctant to take care of the problem you should seek advice at your university's accommodation office or students' union. As long as you pay your bills there is no reason why you should have to live in a cold student house over the winter.
Keep an Eye on the Costs
Gas prices are on a constant rise in the UK and harsh winter months can put additional pressure on an already strained student budget. Keeping your heaters running on full power all day thus can lead to unpleasant surprises when the next batch of bills needs to be paid by the end of the month. It is therefore recommendable to limit the amount of hours of heating. However, that does not necessarily mean that you have to feel cold in your student accommodation.
A first step is to plan your heating hours economically and maximise efficiency. You should turn on your heater only when you're really in your room for a longer period and turn it off before you leave. When you heat, make sure that all your windows and doors are shut, so you do not waste more energy than you have to. You might also want to buy additonal duvets, a hottie, switch to hot drinks (e.g. tea, hot choclate), and cook yourself a nice stew or soup every once in a while. Exercising on a regular basis and working in heated university facilities during the day, such as the library, can also help. Again, reducing costs and finding adequate alternatives/supplements for keeping yourself warm during the winter really depends on your individual situation and daily routine.
Some things might work for you while others won't and you need to find your own strategy. Nevertheless, there are various ways to "warm up" in cold winter days. You can find more useful tips on how to keep warm over the winter period here and here.
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