Leaving your Student Accommodation over Winter

Written by: SU Advice Centre

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We’re fast approaching the end of term and many of you will be getting ready to leave Plymouth over the winter break and have a well-earned rest.

Between navigating changing travel plans, buying gifts and meeting deadlines – there’s a lot to get done at this time of year. Make sure that you make time to get your student home ready for winter so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises when you come back after Christmas.


Switch off and get unplugging

Make sure you do a tour of your house or flat and unplug anything that will not be used while you’re away. Not only is this a matter of safety, but it will also reduce the chance of you coming back to a hefty electricity bill. Think chargers, games consoles, TVs, Christmas lights and lamps.

Don’t switch off your fridge – particularly if your housemates have food in there, this will not make you popular. There’s also a risk of water leaking from a warm fridge which can be a fire hazard.


Sort out your heating

With the house empty you may think that the most efficient thing to do would be to turn off the heating altogether, but this could cause bigger problems.

With the particularly cold weather we’re experiencing, turning your heating off completely while you’re away might cause the pipes to freeze or even burst. If this happens you might be faced with no central heating, reduced water pressure, water damage and/or even flooding when you get back.

If you have access to your thermostat, it’s best to leave your heating on low or set a timer to come on for a couple of hours per day to keep it warm without breaking the bank. If you’re unsure, then check with your letting agent or landlord.


Don’t let the world know you’re leaving your house empty

It can be tempting to channel Chris Rea and share your ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ posts on socials but think twice before publicly declaring that your house is going to be empty for the next couple of weeks.

It’s also a good idea to make it look like your house is fully occupied, even if it’s not – think Home Alone without the booby traps. Check out this article from Save the Student for some tips and tricks.


Lock up

This may seem obvious but when you’ve got a to-do list longer than your arm it’s easy to forget the basics.

Make sure that all doors and windows are fully secured and locked, it’s a good idea to ask the last person to leave the house for the winter break to do a final check – even if you’re 110% sure you’ve already done it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Sort out your fridge and bins

No one wants to start off the new year with a stinky house. Check all the food in your fridge and cupboards and try to use it up before you leave.

Leaving it to rot is not only a waste of money but you also run the risk of coming back to cheesy milk, mouldy fruit and veg or rotten meat – not to mention any unwelcome four-legged visitors or other pests who rock up to tuck into your leftovers.

Whether you whip up a last meal with your flat/housemates before the break or make up a picnic for your trip out of Plymouth then the least possible waste the better. If you’ve got no use for food you’ll be leaving behind and you’re worried it’ll go to waste then check out whether you can donate it to those in need.

UPSU Community Larder: https://www.upsu.com/news/article/upsu/Cost-of-living-support-for-students-Community-Larder/

Plymouth Foodbank Collection Points: https://plymouth.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/


Deconstruct the decs

While taking down your decorations before Christmas may feel wrong on so many levels, do you really want to come back to your house in January and have to deal with tinsel alongside the post-festive blues?

Getting your home ready for a fresh start when you’re back will tick one thing off your list so you can spend more time catching up with friends.


Staying in Plymouth over Christmas? Check out the Winter Buddies Scheme.