Getting Ready for the Cold

Snowy street in down town Madison

From Our Mechanics

Every fall and winter, our mechanics are called to apartments because residents feel too cold. Here are some tips that address some common problems they find when they respond to a call about cold. Some will seem obvious for people used to living in a cold climate such as Wisconsin, but many of these will be new for arrivals from warmer places, or places with different heating systems.

Keep Your Windows Closed at All Times in the Cold

Many residents come from climates where windows are always kept partially or completely open for fresh air. Some countries have heating systems where closed windows are considered dangerous or unhealthy. For our heating systems, the windows should not be kept open. Actually if your windows are open, even a very small amount, it will be hard to keep your home comfortable (especially with colder outside temperatures) for you and it is not safe for the building water pipes. (In extreme cold, water pipes can freeze and burst open, causing considerable damage.)

Air Conditioners Must be Removed from the Wall

Uncovered air conditioner “sleeves” in the wall do not provide any protection from the cold. Just as with open windows, it is impossible to keep your apartment warm unless the air conditioner is removed, and the covering replaced in the wall. If you had apartments staff install your air conditioner, removal is included in the fee you already paid. If you installed the air conditioner yourself, staff will remove it and close up the opening for $25 (billed to your housing account). If you prefer to do the work yourself, you just need to remove the air conditioner unit, insulate the opening, and then replace the cover. If you no longer have the insulation that was in the sleeve when you moved in, Styrofoam or “batting” material can be purchased at a hardware store.

Keep Furniture Away from the Walls

Our heating systems are radiant and need air flow/space around the convectors. Therefore, furniture must not be obstructing your convectors (for example if your bed is obstructing your bedroom convectors, your room will be cold as the convector will be heating up the bed frame). Usually keeping furniture or other items 3 to 4 inches away from the convectors is sufficient.

You Will Need to Wear Socks, and Keep Your Legs and Arms Covered Even When You are Indoors

Many residents don’t think about needing to change their indoor clothing style in the winter, but it is essential. Even with your apartment at a warm temperature, you will probably not feel comfortable unless your feet, legs, and arms are covered. It takes some getting used to, if you are not accustomed to having to bundle up indoors.