One of the less fun parts about living in on-campus housing in college is dealing with dorm temperatures and learning what to do if a dorm is too hot, or alternatively what to do when a dorm is too cold. In the four years I lived on campus, I experienced both extremes for short periods of time, with one dorm reaching over ninety degrees Fahrenheit for several days, and another dorm being so cold that I fell asleep in my winter coat.
Here are my tips for dealing with dorm temperature issues and tips from my experiences living in a dorm that was too hot and another that was too cold. I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite products, though it’s worth noting that these products are not sponsored and I do not receive any compensation for sharing them.
File a maintenance request, if possible
At the first sign that there is an issue with the temperature, file a maintenance request to have the thermostat or temperature control unit checked out. This can be done online or by calling the neighborhood desk. If one of the dorm occupants has a disability or medical condition that cannot handle extreme temperature changes, I highly recommend mentioning this as the request may be processed as more urgent- for example, someone with POTS may have temperature intolerance and get sick from high temperatures.
If the issue cannot be fixed or if the temperature changes are due to a power outage or lack of air conditioning/heat, there are still ways to make the dorm conditions more bearable.
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Have a portable fan, but don’t get a heater
In my hot dorm room, I had a small desktop Vornado fan that was on whenever I was in the room. Since my dorm room was so small, I was able to keep it on top of my desk and get cool air all around the room fairly easily. Small fans like the one I had were allowed in the dorms, but larger fans were not.
Having an external heater was not an option for my cold dorm room. Portable heaters are typically banned from dorms, and were banned on my campus since they were a fire code violation. Each college has their own rules though, so I recommend checking the housing handbook for information about what is allowed and what isn’t.
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Adjust bedding accordingly
This may seem obvious, but having the right bedding can help a lot when dealing with temperature extremes. I keep a mix of heavier and lightweight blankets, and can add up to three comforter inserts inside my duvet, so that helps a lot with making my bed warmer or cooler as needed. My favorite lightweight blanket is the Yogibo CozyBo, and it is the perfect size and weight for my Twin XL bed.
Shut off electronics when not in use
Electronics can give off a lot of heat, especially computers, so I recommend unplugging devices and shutting off electronics when they are not in use, as this can help keep a hot dorm room from getting even hotter. This is especially beneficial for people who have desktop computers, as they give off much more heat.
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Use heating or cooling wraps
While space heaters and heated mattress pads are not allowed in the dorms, heated shoulder wraps and heated blankets are permitted at most colleges, including mine. I love my heated shoulder wrap and rest it around my shoulders when I am working at my desk or trying to fall asleep at night in a cold dorm room.
Another item I have is a cooling wrap that can help tremendously with too-hot dorms or on particularly hot days. I would keep a cooling wrap in my dorm freezer for whenever I needed to use it, though a nice cold washcloth or towel can also do the trick.
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Find comfortable clothing to wear in the dorm
During these extreme temperatures, it may seem tempting to wear minimal clothing or to wear everything in the closet at once. One of the things that helped me with dealing with a hot dorm room was having lightweight lounge clothing such as shorts, dresses, or tops that I could change into when I was done with classes for the day, or that I could sleep in at night. For the days or nights spent in a cold dorm room, I would often wear a fleece yarn jacket from Uniqlo that was soft enough to sleep in, though I could easily wear it for a late night run to the dining hall with my friends.
If other issues come up, get emergency help
My friend at another college was telling me a story about how they could feel their dorm gradually getting hotter and hotter one day, and then they started smelling smoke. It turns out, their heating unit was malfunctioning, and they had to evacuate their dorm while the fire department came to check things out. If the dorm temperature change is accompanied by a power outage, strange smells, or other strange behavior, get emergency help right away and do not file a maintenance request, as they may not be read in a timely manner.
Some examples of people to contact for emergency health include:
- Resident director on duty
- Neighborhood desk
- Campus dispatch
- Building management
- Fire department
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More tips on dealing with dorm temperature issues- dorm too hot and dorm too cold
- In suite-style or apartment-style dorms, the thermostat is typically located in one student room and controls the temperature for all rooms in the suite/apartment. Since I had disability housing accommodations, I always lived in the room with the thermostat control
- If a student has regular temperature regulation issues in their dorm, they can request to be moved to a new dorm or be released from their housing contract- read more in Tips For Filling Out Medical Housing Release Forms
- One of my friends once passed out in their dorm at another college, and it helped for them to have emergency medical information on their phone, which was helpful when they got checked out by medical staff. Read more in How To Store Emergency Medical Information For Android and iOS