Ask the Experts

Uncool, Uncomfortable

My friends and I live year-round in an off-campus apartment that we really love–except for in one very big way. Our place has all the space we need, is laid out perfectly, and is in a great location, but we don’t have any way to controlling its temperature. I’m not sure how this is possible, but we don’t really have a thermostat, and I can’t seem to control the heaters or find any way to get the A/C on. Sometimes it’s too hot, other times it’s too cold, and honestly, it almost doesn’t matter what season it is: our place seems to be able to be uncomfortable in any weather, and whether it’s too hot or too cold that day is always a surprise. It’s like the place is haunted! What’s going on with this place? Any tips for controlling the temperature without access to any controls?

It certainly sounds like you’re dealing with a very confusing temperature situation in your apartment, and that’s not great. While experts say that it takes very extreme temperatures to have a serious and immediate impact on your health, subtler temperature changes can affect things like mood or productivity. Experts have found that cold rooms (below 68 degree Fahrenheit) lead to more mistakes at work. Problems with the temperature at work can also cause employees to stop working entirely: 29 percent of workers report spending between 10 and 30 minutes a day not working due to temperature issues.

In other words, the poor temperature regulation in your apartment can disrupt your productivity and encourage mistakes in your schoolwork while disrupting your sleep and making you uncomfortable. That’s not good!

There were always going to be some factors in your space’s temperature regulation that were beyond your control. According to Everlast Roofing, Inc.–construction experts who create, among other things, agricultural metal roofing–the materials structure of your walls and roof have a major impact on how well insulated your space is, and therefore how quickly your apartment’s temperature responds to temperature changes outside.

But other things should be within your control. It’s strange that you can’t control your heating systems, for instance. If you’re sure you don’t have a thermostat, try looking at the heating units themselves. Baseboard heaters may have a dial, and old-fashioned radiators should have a knob you can turn. Similarly, you’ll want to check to see if you’re missing anything about your air conditioning system. Can you close the vents? Are you sure that you have an air conditioning system at all? It may be that you need to install a window A/C unit yourself during the summer. Some of these questions may be best answered by your landlord, so don’t be afraid to reach out and get some solutions.

If you really can’t control the temperature of your apartment by these means, there are other things you can consider. You may not be able to control how well your windows insulate your space, but you may be able to open and close them. According to window treatment specialists at The Blinds Place, adding blinds or curtains to block (or let in) sunlight will help you warm or cool some rooms. Small temperature control devices like space heaters and electric fans can help, too. While the best solution is to talk to your landlord and gain control over the systems that you say are already changing the temperature of your space, you can attempt to counteract them with heating and cooling systems of your own if you really have no other other option. But watch those electrical bills, and remember that there are other apartments out there, too!

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.” — William Makepeace Thackery

Lissette Harwood is a Former Content Director at District Confidential.