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One night near the end of fall quarter, I was dead asleep in bed and then suddenly I was awake. The night was silent, my roommate slept on peacefully across the room, and here I was sweating and awake for no apparent reason. Then I realized that it was December but felt like a hot August night. I lay in defeat, sprawled across my bed as hot, dry air poured directly onto me from the vent above my head. I finally rolled out of bed, went out into the hallway and saw that the thermostat was set as high as it could go: 80 degrees.

This is just the beginning.

My Arroyo Vista home just so happens to have an accessible thermostat, unlike the other dorms I’ve lived in, which at first seemed like a great luxury – coming home from the first frigid night of the year and feeling warm air floating from a vent into my room was a pleasant experience. However, some of us don’t understand moderation.

I am personally under the firm belief that it should never be 80 degrees inside my dwelling space during the winter. I grew up in the High Desert where the temperatures dip down below 20 degrees at night and hovers around 40 during the day. I also happened to be raised by a woman who has lived both in the frigid Buffalo, NY and Alaska. Our thermostat was always set to 68 degrees during the winter days, and 65 degrees at night. If you’re cold, put on a sweater.

Whoever was turning the thermostat up to 80 degrees had turned it into a habit.  One moment I’d be seated at my desk, the room temperature around me perfectly comfortable, and then the hidden ducts above my head would burst into life and spew hot air in my face. Other times, I would wake up an hour before I needed to (which is enough to ruin the day of every college student), trudge out into the hallway to turn the thermostat down and then sit grumpily before my laptop until my alarm went off.

I even left a note on the thermostat!  A sunshine yellow post-it note of positivity: “Hey, can we not turn this up to 80?  That’s way too warm!  Please and thank you! Love, Amanda.” I even drew a sun with sunglasses and a smile on it.  The next morning, I woke up to a warm, but manageable room. On my way out to class, I saw my sunny post-it note had lasted the night and the thermostat was only set to 75. I can deal with 75.

Right before I was headed to bed later that same night, I felt a distinct discomfort that I had come to know as “80 Degrees.” Sure enough, as I approached the thermostat, my post-it note was gone and it was set up to 80. I sighed and slid the arm back down to 70, but something was in the way. I got up on the tips of my toes to look inside the thermostat and was met with tiny golden-rod squares of torn up post-it note in amongst the internal wiring. Not only did this person want me to bake alive, they also wanted to set us all on fire!

This was the last straw. I fished out the post-it note scraps, left them on top of the thermostat to serve as a tell-tale heart to the offender and set the thermostat to 50 degrees, the lowest setting.  I made sure it was set to “cool” and “auto” and stormed back into my room. The cooler remained on all night long. The next morning I set it back to 70, feeling victorious, and headed out to class.

I believe there are a couple morals to be found here, one of which pertains to my own obsessive compulsive nature, but I chose to ignore that one. Even though we live in a frozen tundra (and by frozen tundra, I mean coastal Southern California), heating a 3,462 sq. ft. dorm to 80 degrees isn’t smart.  On one hand, it costs a lot to heat a house and our school’s budget is thinning. Run the electric bill up enough and they’ll be charging a fee. Aside from that, there are also health oncerns to think about.  During the winter, the air outside is drier, which dries out our nasal passages and makes them more susceptible to airborne viruses and bacteria. Excessive heating only makes that problem worse.

My advice for the remaining winter months: buy a Snuggie.

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