There are many blog entries and articles about preparing for winter around on the internet, not to mention in books about green living and self-sufficiency. However, most of these assume that you own your own home and can therefore make changes to the roofing, insulation, windows, heating systems and so on. There's not a lot out there for renters, so I'm exploring what I can do in my home.
The first thing is to bleed your radiators. All you need for this is a radiator bleeding key and something to mop up water eg a rag or kitchen towel. A radiator bleeding key can be bought cheaply from DIY stores - I got mine from Brico. Instructions are below and can also be found here.
As we are on the top floor of the building, air accumulates very quickly in our radiators and we bleed them several times each winter. They usually tell us when they need bleeding - the apartment gets very, very cold! We were freezing last week, but after bleeding the radiators on Friday, it's lovely and snugly and warm now!
How to bleed a radiator:
Step the first. Check the water pressure and let some water in until the pressure reaches 2 bars. You may want to check with the landlord/lady that they are happy for you to do this, and perhaps also how to adjust the pressure on the system in place.
Step the second. Turn all the radiators to the max heating setting. This will maximise inflow of water into the radiators.
Step the third. Open a window. This does not smell pretty.
Step the fourth. Open the air valve slowly, holding the towel to the key with the other hand, and listen to the air hiss its way to freedom. When the last of the air escapes, it will be followed by water spluttering through the gap. Hence why you are holding something absorbant. Close the valve tightly.
Only open the valve for one radiator at a time, and never leave it. If they haven't been bled for some time, you may have to wait quite a while for the air to escape. If the air stops coming out (ie it stops hissing) but there is no water, then close the valve and bring the pressure back to 2 bars again.
If you don't know how to check if the pressure is at 2 bars, or can't find the valve, then call your landlord. Or your Dad. They'll be able to help you out!