part of an ongoing series of columns I’ve written, reprinted from the TU Rambler.
When you’ve finished with your shower (hopefully shortened), you step inside your room and realize it’s freezing cold; most people will immediately crank that heater up as high as it will go. Or, perhaps you’ve had the heater blasting all night long, but the room still feels cold. There are two reasons for this, and both are easily solvable. The first: you are still dripping water from your shower, and everything feels colder when you’re soaking wet. The solution is simple: dry off as well as you can in the shower.
The second reason is a little more complicated. You see, your room is a concrete box with—unless you live in Thomson—old single-pane windows; this means that outside air is probably flowing in and leaving your room cold. Luckily insulating your dorm is actually very easy to do, and there are a few different ways to go about it, depending on your situation.
If the cold air is coming in from under the windows (or from the sides if your windows are Clayvis-style), then the simplest fix is to use “rope caulking”: basically, long tubes of foam in varying widths that you can jam under the window to keep out cold air drafts. (You can also cut it up for homemade Nerf darts.) It’s very cheap—walk down to Chevy Chase Hardware and buy about 30 feet for around $5.
If you’re like me and have very old windows, the problem might be that cold air is coming in from around the glass panes themselves. If this is the case, you may want to insulate the entire window unit. However, if you have a hairdryer (guys, borrow one from a girl) you can do it yourself with a kit: tape clear plastic sheeting over the window and shrink-wrap it to fit with a hairdryer. If you don’t feel like buying a kit, I guess you could go all DIY and duct tape some cut-up shopping bags over the windows, but unless you’re going for the ‘hobo chic’ look, I don’t recommend it.
Weatherproofing your dorm really pays off in the long run: if your room stays warm longer, you don’t have to turn on the heater as often, and therefore burn less fossil fuels to run the heater. Lowering the thermostat by just two degrees has significant savings: if everybody in America did this, we’d save over $100 billion in energy costs.