Staying warm on a budget

Abbey Stirgwolt

With a little bit of creativity, even the poorest (and coldest) souls can turn up the heat

Finding a happy medium between financial stability and fulfillment of basic human needs — heat, for example — can sometimes be tougher for college students.

It may seem like a lose-lose situation: Stay in the apartment and freeze or turn up the heat and risk bankruptcy.

While instinct would dictate that simply cranking the thermometer up a degree or two is vital for comfort or, at the very least, attaining feeling in one’s toes, the idea of not being able to afford Starbucks for the next few months might be slightly unnerving.

Fortunately, however, there are several practical and cheap ways of keeping warm without having to sacrifice precious cash.


Though finding motivation to get up and get moving may be difficult, studies have shown that physical activity not only raises body temperature during periods of activity, but also afterward.

Extra motivation to get fit: According to one study, “highly motivated athletes” have average resting body temperatures of about 97-100 degrees Fahrenheit (as opposed to average person’s 98.6), which can reach as high as 104 degrees during exercise. (

Eat warm food (or just eat food)

According to Boston-area nutrition counselor Nancy Clark, “30 to 60 minutes after you eat, your body generates about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach.” (

Good “warm-up foods,” according to Clark, include “warm carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, chili and lasagna, as well as warm fluids — hot cocoa, mulled cider and steaming soup.”

An additional tip: After baking the lasagna, leave the oven door open for some extra heat.

Dress for the weather

It may seem obvious, but wearing multiple layers of clothing can allow for adaptability to different environments, whether in a classroom full of bodies or an empty apartment.

“I put on socks like it’s no one’s business,” said Katie Rahl, sophomore secondary education major.

Hang out with more people

The bottom line: More bodies make more heat.

Though overcrowded classrooms may seem like an annoyance, they typically have one benefit in the winter — warmth.

Sophomore accounting major Alyssa Lane said many of the classrooms in the Business Administration Building are warm because of this.

“The business building is really hot,” she said, noting that her typical secret to staying warm is simple: “Wear more clothes.”

Use the sun

Curtains can help guard against the cold at night, but on sunny days, open curtains to allow sunlight to enter a room. This saves on heating and electricity — no lights necessary.

Close windows and doors

Consider purchasing plastic window coverings to tape over windows and seal in heat. Also, close the doors of unused or less frequently used rooms so that heat is concentrated into rooms that get more use.

Go somewhere that is heated

The Student Recreation and Wellness Center has a hot tub and sauna, free to full-time students. Make several stops at once: Heat up with a good workout, grab some soup from the cafe, relax in the hot tub and sweat it out in the sauna. That should be enough warmth to carry you over into tomorrow morning.

Contact features editor Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].