Now that the season of single figure temperatures is finally upon us, the Government are urging people to keep their homes heated this winter… and that includes students. But with a recent hike in energy prices, combined with £9000 tuition fees looming overheads, it is easy to see why heating falls short on many students list of priorities. But should we let it?

Although students are unbeaten in their abilities at swinging a free night out and living off frozen pizza, sacrificing hot water and central heating to save extra money is a little extreme and potentially detrimental to your health.

A survey conducted by Dreamland this year reveals that 51% of students in the UK have confessed to falling ill due to the conditions of their cold accommodation. The typical British downpours that grace us at this time of year have meant that many students’ unheated houses are becoming damp.

51% of students in the UK have confessed to falling ill due to the conditions of their cold accommodation.

Second year English Language and Literature student, Hannah Gooch, has recently acquired dampness in her room. “I have always suffered from asthma and the damp in my room escalated so quickly it led to me getting a chest infection.”

As students we occasionally come across mould on that last slice of bread, but when it comes to mould in our homes, this should not be taken lightly. Third year Sociology student William Hazell, like many students, has come to discover that when left untreated, those damp patches will eventually become mould.

“When I moved into my room this year there wasn’t any mould in my room at all,” he tells Impact. “As the weather got colder though, black mould spread over large portions of my wall, near where I slept. I’m asthmatic, so it really worried me. I tried to get rid of it with bleach and water, but got seriously ill – it hurt to breathe and my throat swelled up – I had to go to A & E. Mould is nasty stuff.”

Fact file:

Impact asked… You answered.

Only 15% of Nottingham students have the heating on all the time.

10% wouldn’t put the heating on for the sake of their health.

One person admits to never heating their house due to energy bills.

Occupants of damp or mouldy accommodation are at increased risk of respiratory problems and students are the main victims. In an Impact survey of Nottingham students, a third say that their cold student house had made them ill.

Dampness and mould can also be a general annoyance. Second year Modern Language Studies student, Connie Leroux, found out the hard way. “Last week, I was shocked to find that my favourite vintage leather satchel that was hanging in my wardrobe was covered in mould!” It’s not just our walls that are a breeding ground for mould, but our wardrobes and cupboards too.

With all that in mind, it’s easy to see how living in cold and damp accommodation can potentially have an effect on our work performance and attendance. Students are often missing University due to acquiring nasty coughs from the conditions of their cold homes. Shockingly, the Dreamland survey reveals that more than a third of UK students believe that the quality of their work has suffered. It’s difficult to get stuck into an essay if you’re waiting for your hands to thaw out.

More than a third of UK students believe that the quality of their work has suffered as a result of coldness.

As every student is aware, getting up for a 9am lecture is a task in itself.  But a chilly room on a Monday morning makes it even harder for us to get out from under our warm duvets, with 9% of UK students missing University altogether to avoid the cold.

As these stories show, though, taking risks with heating your house can have serious consequences for your health. 40% of Nottingham students in our survey admit they only put on the heating when it’s really cold- unfortunately though, it seems piling on the extra layers to save a few quid just won’t cut it this winter.

While a heating-free house might be kind to our bank balance, it isn’t necessarily kind to our health.

Abby Ross

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Image credit: Kelly Sikkema via Flikr. 

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1 Comment

  1. Gregory House
    February 4, 2014 at 18:17 — Reply

    Damp and mould can be serious problems. The best way for students to avoid this is to avoid drying clothes and towels in bedrooms, open the windows for a couple of minutes a day to ventilate the house, and to have the heating on, even if only a few hours a day. If a damp problem starts to develop, using a dehumidifier can be a good idea.

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