How to stay warm this winter

17 Dec 2021
By Rob Slade, Writer at Unite Students

As much as I enjoy a crisp winter’s morning, I’m not a fan of feeling cold, which is something I remember being a lot during my last year at university.

To make sure you don’t suffer in the same ways I did, below are my secrets to staying warm in your flat this winter.

It’s a tricky topic to delve into. If you’re living in halls, you probably don’t have much control over the heating, and if you’re living in private accommodation you probably don’t want to spend the money on it.

But with global warming happening at an alarming rate, it’s also down to all of us to use our resources responsibly.

So how do you stay warm through winter without harming the planet or the bank balance? Here’s what I’ve learned...

Use a hot water bottle

It seems like something so simple, and yet it’ll make a big difference to how you’re feeling. Carefully fill a hot water bottle while you’re relaxing in your room or take it with you to bed and let it work its magic. Just remember to use a cover for it so you don’t scold yourself!

Switch to a thicker duvet

When the winter months roll in you should think about switching duvets, as that thin layer you rely on in summer just isn’t going to cut it. Anything with a tog rating above 12 should help you to stay toasty. The bigger the number, the warmer you’ll feel.

If you don’t have the space or money to buy another duvet, you could also look at adding a blanket into the mix or wearing some fleece pajamas to bed.

Close the curtains at night

Make small changes and eventually they’ll add up. Closing your curtains at night helps to keep heat in and reduces how much escapes through the windows. Remember to open them in the day though, as the sunlight will help to heat up your room.

Don’t open your windows

If you’re feeling a little on the warm side, try to avoid opening your window to cool down. Instead, try taking off a layer or going to sit in a communal space where it might be a little cooler.

Opening a window means that a lot of energy is being wasted. Not only is this bad for the planet, but it also leaves you in a tough spot if you start to feel cold, as a lot of heat will have been lost. In fact, some of the heating controllers in student accommodation will automatically turn off if they detect that a window is open.

Invest in some winter warmers

Feeling the chill? Before trying to give the heating a boost, put another layer on. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll warm up with a cosy jumper or fleece leggings on. Thick socks or slippers will also help keep you toasty.

Don’t block the radiator with anything

The moment you put something in front of the radiator you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Whether it’s a stack of boxes or some furniture you’ve rearranged, blocking the radiator means you’ll also be blocking the heat from coming through.

This even extends to hanging clothes on the radiator. Doing so not only reduces the heat getting through, but it’s also a fire hazard. In fact, many heaters in student accommodation will actually switch off automatically if they are covered up.

Keep your thermostat clear

Some thermostats have a sensor that keeps an eye out for movement to make sure there is someone in the room. If it doesn’t sense any movement, the heating will turn off. Because of this, it’s important not to block the thermostat with anything.

Also, make sure you don’t leave any chargers or electronics right next to the thermostat, as the heat coming off of them can make the room seem warmer than it is. This could then mean that the heating will turn off before the room has truly warmed up.

Understand how the heating works

Throughout winter, the heating in Unite Students’ properties maintain a base temperature to stop rooms from getting cold. You’ll then find a thermostat in your individual rooms that you can use to alter how warm your room is.

There are two types of thermostats in our properties. The most common version has a single boost button. When you hit the boost button on your thermostat, it means that the heating will ramp up for 45 minutes, and you can do this multiple times.

But once it hits the upper temperature, you won’t be able to keep increasing it. Instead, it will simply maintain that level of warmth when you press the button.

In some buildings, you'll find a different thermostat that has five different settings (off, low, medium, high, boost). You can choose which setting you would like to have the heating on, and then use the boost button to increase the temperature for 45 minutes.

Once that temperature has been reached, the heating won’t come on again unless the thermostat senses a drop below that pre-set temperature.

Still not sure how it works? Watch this video for more information about how the heating works in your room.

If you're going to use a plug-in heater, make it an oil one

As the weather gets colder, it can be tempting to buy a portable heater. However, many heaters - such as fan, convector, and radiant types - can seriously increase the risk of fire in your room. 

So while I suggest you're better off staying safe and protecting the planet by not using a portable heater, if you're going to use one then make it an oil heater. They're much safer and work as well as any other portable heater. 

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Rob is a writer at Unite Students.