After enjoying a particularly mild Christmas period here in the UK, now is the time to put those Game of Thrones memes to one side and brace yourselves for the cold.
Winter is here!
And thus begins the battle to maintain some kind of warmth and comfort in our homes. Many houses are poorly insulated and having the central heating running for long periods of time can lead to a massive spike in your utility bills – all at a time of year where we don’t typically have substantial amounts of spare money lying around.
Have you ever noticed how your house felt particularly chilly when you returned from your Christmas break? The reason for this is because you lose far more heat via radiation into the environment than you do by air convection. So, even though the air in your home will warm up quickly when you turn on the heating, your walls will still remain cold for a time and leech precious heat away from your rooms.
Maybe the key to surviving the harsh climes of winter then lies not in modern technology such as central heating, but in the past, and the methods our ancestors may have used to warm their domiciles.
With that in mind please allow us to present five great ways to beat the cold this winter that won’t break the bank.
Close Your Curtains
During the day, your windows let in far more heat than they allow to escape.
However, this all changes when the sun goes down and even double glazed windows show a significant drop in temperature after sunset, and will quickly suck heat from your home.
Combat this by closing all blinds and curtains as soon as the sun has disappeared. This will insulate the window area, raise the surface temperature, reduce draughts and heat loss, and increase cosiness.
Cover the Walls
Your brick or stone walls may be far better insulated than your windows, but they are far from perfect and will still cause heat loss during the harsh winter months.
Combat this heat loss by covering as much of your walls as possible. Medieval lords achieved this by hanging ornate carpets and tapestries on the walls of their halls, castles or keeps.
However, assuming that you don’t come from a long line of land owners, even a thin poster will make a significant difference to the surface temperature of the wall. Although mirrors and framed pictures work far better.
For you bibliophiles out there, bookcases make for a great insulator. The thick volumes and shelving covering the walls will raise the temperature noticeably.
Good luck achieving that with a Kindle.
Get a Door Curtain
Doors are terrible insulators, as they are thin and often glazed as well. This is not to mention their propensity for letting in draughts. If you are unfortunate enough to have your front door lead directly into your main living area, then this can lead to a massive drop in your ambient temperatures and turn the house into an ice-box in no time at all.
You can combat this by getting a long and thickly lined door curtain to cover both the portal and the surrounding wall, all the way to the floor. Installed correctly, this method should eliminate most, if not all of the heat loss by your main entrance.
If you are fortunate enough to enjoy the pleasure, warmth and ambiance that a roaring open fire can provide then there is a great way to maximise their warming effect.
Back in Georgian times, people used to sit in front of wooden screens. By positioning yourself between the screens and the fire you essentially reduce the size of the room, making it easier to keep warm. The screens warm up and keep your backs toasty, whilst the radiation from the fire takes care of the front.
Bonus fun fact: Georgian women used smaller screens to protect their faces from being damaged by the fire’s radiation. Although this may be a step to far for the average domestic situation.
Position Yourself Correctly
No, this doesn’t mean to stand in a particular pose, but rather to make sure that your seating and other furniture is placed in the warmest areas of your rooms.
Make sure that your sofas are against an internal wall as these will be significantly warmer than heat-loss prone external ones. If you have your desk against an external wall in order to aid in window staring procrastination then you can use a bit of card or similar material to prevent your legs from getting chilly.
Same with your bed. If your headboard is against an external wall then you may find yourself experiencing a stiff neck in the morning. The best solution is a four-poster bed, but we’re drifting back into feudal lord territory again now.
So, there are five ways to help keep your home warm this winter. Please let us know if you have tried any of these, or if you have any tips that we have not mentioned.