Bringing the heat

Students prepare for another brutal winter


Story by Jake Steen, Staff Writer

The fall semester at UW-Eau Claire is still winding down, but autumn is long gone.

Students have been packing on the warm clothes when they go outside for a while now, but coming off the coldest Eau Claire winter in more than 100 years, students need to prepare to brace the cold inside their own homes.

Off-campus college homes are often old and poorly insulated, which can make keeping the place warm at a low cost a difficult task for student residents.  Sophomore Sam Johnson is entering his first winter living off campus, and he said it has been quite the wake-up call.

“We are always turning our furnace up and down,” Johnson said. “I still have no idea what our electric bill is going to be.”

Last winter the average temperature in Eau Claire December through February was 7.5 degrees, which ties for the coldest winter in Eau Claire since the 1903 winter.

John Mogensen, owner of University Area Housing, said they always make sure tenants are adequately preparing for another harsh winter.

“We email a newsletter to all of our tenants reminding them about shutting storm windows and taking out air conditioning units before the winter months arrive,” Mogensen said, “and tell them to try and be as conservative as possible.”

The staff at University Area Housing offers do-it-yourself tips such as putting plastic over windows and laying towels at the bottom of doors to keep drafts out. Other than that, landlords will send members of their maintenance crews over to help if they need to.

“Some of our properties are much older and may have some cracks,” said Melissa Votjasek, University Area Housing employee. “We send our guys to those houses to seal what they can and check on anything else that may help keep it warm.”

Mogensen insists, however, that it is really just about being conscious enough to budget how often you blast the heat. Turning the thermostat down at night time is the best thing you can do to keep your electric bill from skyrocketing, yet having the heat on is still necessary.

“Another thing to be aware of is when kids leave for winter break they can’t turn their furnaces off,” Mogensen said. “Otherwise the plumbing will freeze and it’s a big mess.”

While students are taking precaution with winter break on the horizon, even for senior advertising major Kayla Norquist, who experienced last winter’s brutal wrath, it doesn’t mean she is any more prepared for this one.

“I always turn down the thermostat to 62 degrees at night,” Norquist said. “But if my roommates had it their way it would be set above 70 at all times.”