He, She, and Phe: Coping with the Cold in Your Dorm

Warm Dorm

Hello prospective students, confused current students, and lost surfers of the web. Welcome to He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown, where I address your questions about the most ubiquitous aspect of college living. My name is Justin Ferenzi, and I’m here to help shine some light on the rollercoaster ride that is dorm life.

“I’m from California/The South/Brazil/Australia/Anywhere not doomed to an eternal Ice Age… I am not prepared for this.”

That’s a common chorus to hear at a school that pulls from such a diverse geographical sample size; heck, even students from the frostier regions of the world (yours truly hails from Chicago) can get a little perturbed by the nip in the air come late winter.

So, what is one to do when February comes around and makes you choose between going outside and feeling your face? I went around asking current students for tips on maximizing the heat in their dorm rooms, and this is what they said.

  1. Make use of the radiator in your room. Though this one seems the most obvious, it comes with a caveat: you and your roommate may not always agree on the right temperature setting. I’ve seen friendships nearly torn apart over the radiator dial… Okay, not really, but it can be a source of minor conflict. The best solution I’ve heard is to allow the person who prefers it colder to set the dial, since it’s easier for the person who feels too cold to warm up in other ways. It’s a bit more difficult to cool down when the room is too hot.
  2. Get a duvet for your bed, not a comforter. Full disclosure: I had no idea what the difference was before conducting this little survey, but it came up enough that it seems important. Duvets tend to be stuffed with feather or down instead of cotton, which is better for insulation. Additionally, thick duvet covers add one extra layer of warmth without adding too much bulk, a privilege not available with a comforter. That way you can always put on a thinner cover during the warmer months– the best of both worlds.
  3. Keep the storm window pulled down. All dorm room windows come equipped with a storm window for insulation during the winter. Sometimes maintenance will pull them down during the winter break sweep-through, but some get missed. So always double check to make sure it’s there.
  4. Lamps! Talk about a light bulb going off. Setting up a bunch of lamps around your room will help to generate heat, along with setting a very ~sensual~ ambience. Win-win!
  5. Layers! Dress in layers… Apparently this wasn’t as intuitive to some as it was to others. This includes layers of clothes on your body and layers of blankets on your bed. Lots of thinner layers are better than a few thicker ones. Don’t be afraid of going too hard; you can always take a layer off, but you can’t put on one you don’t have.

I hope this little list will help out those of you who are afraid of those classic New England winters. All in all, they really aren’t so bad… Okay, today it’s -5ºF outside, but generally it’s very manageable. And the upside to the frigidity? All the more excuse to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite show on Netflix! After finishing all your work, of course…

When Justin Ferenzi isn’t blogging, he’s obsessively refreshing his email account for blogging-related correspondence. For any and all questions about dorm life at Brown, don’t hesitate to send a message to justin_ferenzi@brown.edu


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