Hello Dear Reader,
Tomorrow, I’ll be talking to Julian Worricker on the ‘You and Yours’ lunchtime programme on BBC Radio 4. I will tell him and all the listeners about life without central heating. In preparation, I thought I would tell you all first.
I will start with the caveat that it is easy for us. We are both young, fit and healthy and live in the South West and have a milder climate than many people. We don’t get months of snow, we don’t get freezing weather every winter and in fact, ice and snow are the exception and not the norm. We also live in a south facing house (for now) with big windows and we trap a lot of solar gain. We also live in a rural area and have affordable access to logs by the tonne, delivered to our door. I fully understand that this is not easy for everyone.
However, once upon a time, our central heating was set to come on for a few hours in the morning and evening and now it doesn’t come on at all………………unless it snows and it’s sub zero. But, as I said, that’s rare here. Initially, it was hard and we felt the cold and it was difficult. Now, I skip round the house in normal clothing and I don’t feel the need for heating on most days.
I digress! Living without central heating revisited. To start, I need to clarify, that I don’t live without heating. We burn wood on our stove and that predominantly heats one room. The surrounding chimney breast, walls and the chimney breast and walls upstairs also warm up and there is a considerable thermal mass which stays a fraction warmer and therefore warms the rest of the house. Heating with wood makes you realise the energy that goes into warming a house. It makes you aware that a tree grew, gave out oxygen, died and had to be cut down and then needed sawing a chopping. All that work makes you use the wood wisely and our wood boils our kettle, heats our house and dries our laundry. If you have the option of wood heating, it’s some how connects me to the real world which does not rely on the flick of a switch.
Living without central heating means we layer ourselves and the house. I buy sheets from charity shops to make curtain linings to hang behind my curtains. I usually double layer the curtain linings which makes a massive difference to thermal loss. We hang door curtains to keep another layer between us and the cold and insulate our home to make sure we don’t lose the heat we’ve chopped and stacked for.
Sorry to state the ‘bleedin’ obvious’ but blankets or quilts on sofas and arm chairs are a great way to keep warm. Wrap yourself up and keep the cold at bay. I didn’t knit this but bought it from a charity shop and it’s so snuggly and warm. It’s just another way of keeping the warm without central heating.
When it’s cold, make sure you have plenty of hot drinks. This is the season of soups and stews and hot filling and comforting food. It’s also the season of the last blast of sunshine so get out as much as possible and stay as healthy as you can to stave off winter illness. A good walk in daylight every day is the best way to top up Seratonin levels and that in turn helps us stay positive and healthy throughout the winter.
We make the most of the heating we have and burn our wood economically and certainly don’t have a roaring fire but keep our stove ‘ticking over’. We also make sure we dry our laundry in front of the fire and loaves to rise in the warmth of the living room.
We find it easy now to live without central heating. We are used to a cooler house. We are used to wrapping up and wearing (taking a look at myself here) socks, slippers, warm trousers, tee shirts and cardigan. In the winter, we keep extra thick jumpers and cardigans to hand and put them on when we come in to keep us warm until the wood stove is alight and heating our living room.
Here’s a thrifty round up.
1. Heat one room if you can’t afford central heating – a plug in oil filled radiator on a low setting will keep one room adequately warm.
2. Use quilts and blankets on your sofas and arm chairs and let them swaddle you and keep you warm. They are fun and cosy.
3. Line your curtains – you can buy or make these. Mine are made from double layered old sheets. But, even buying them will save you lots of money and keep your house warmer.
4. Hang door curtains – I made ours by cutting a wide curtain in half and upcycling it into a long curtain and re stitched the heading tape – I lined it with a duvet cover from a charity shop.
5. Close your curtains as soon as it is dark. When we walk the dogs in the evening, we can see into houses and those families are wasting heat. Shut up those curtains and it will help to keep the house and you warm and insulated.
6. Extra blankets on your bed and get to bed early. I’m the wife who always wants an early night. I like to get into bed where I’m warm and know I need less heating as our body heat keeps us warm. Now is the time to get the extra quilts and blankets out and air them in readiness for winter chills. A light weight fleece blanket will look stylish on the end of your bed and provide an extra layer on cooler nights.
|photo courtesy of chezlarsson.com
7. Stay healthy and active. Through out the winter, I have time off work and it would be tempting to light the fire or turn the heating off. I make sure I use the day light hours to do all the outside jobs such as gardening, cleaning the car or windows. Also, try and get a walk in daylight every day as it will keep you healthy and improve circulation and help you stay warmer.