Saturday 11 December 2010
We, the Stow-Crats, live in a big house that was passed down through Harry's family. It's an old manor house, and bits of it used to be a monastery. It sleeps 16, and as you can imagine it's pretty draughty.
If you live in a converted Georgian rectory, you probably have some of the same problems. So here are my tips for keeping warm without breaking the bank. You might even help to save the planet too!
1. Live in (and heat) two or three rooms. Pick small ones, close together. Think of them as a flat!
2. Live in your kitchen. The Aga is a good source of heat. (If you don't have an Aga, install one.) Move in the telly, your laptop, a sofa, and some armchairs. Of course you already have a kitchen table and chairs. Think of it as a café!
3. Fit floor-length, lined curtains to all your windows (which are probably original wooden sashes and rather draughty). If you aren't using a room during the day, keep the curtains closed. Weight the bottom of the curtains with lead weights. (Shut the curtains and blinds in the parts of the house you aren't using, too. If you have Georgian shutters, shut them. If your house is post-1900, you can fit Swiss-style external shutters, and close those. Oh - and don't forget to insulate your loft.)
4. If your curtains aren't floor-length, close them and tuck the ends into the window sill, or behind the radiator. You don't want all that lovely paid-for heat to go out through the glass, do you?
5. Keep the curtains or blinds drawn in the bathroom.
6. Open fires are lovely, but a lot of the heat goes up the chimney - drawing a draught from the cracks round the door, and the keyhole. Sellotape up the keyhole, and make a thick curtain to hang in front of the door. Also a draught excluder to put along the bottom (you can put them under the windows too).
7. Another trick for large rooms with open fires is to put up a screen around the back of your chair.
8. Wear knee socks, thermal vests, long johns and thick jerseys. Quilted body warmers are also pretty effective. (The Victorians called them "hug-me-tights".)
9. If you live in a smaller house and you've knocked down all the partition walls to create an open-plan live/work/eat/sleep/cook/work area, rebuild them and create small, easily heated cells. Just remember to make the kitchen big enough to eat in.
10. The Victorians, who lived in big, draughty houses, knew all these tricks. How did we forget them? They also wore wrist warmers and shawls, and tucked their feet into foot muffs.
11. And insulate your bath! Tape loft insulation round the outside. And I believe you can buy insulated baths.
12. Stick baco foil behind your radiators to reflect the heat, and fit a shelf above them. Or you can get special sticky-backed foil.