Leicestershire in October
I cannot believe how cold my house is and it’s only October.
Last winter I lived in the Victorian house across the road which had central heating, double glazing on the ground floor and hot water. This winter I live in 1920’s house which has no double glazing, night storage heating and we have to switch on the immersion to get a bathful of hot water. You have to be quick though, because the bathroom is so cold that the only way to tackle it is have a bath so hot that the cool air is a welcome relief.
Storage heaters are the worst system in the whole universe unless you live in one room and go to bed at eight o’clock. The idea is that they buy electricity during the night (when it’s slightly cheaper) and heat the bricks which live in the elephantine units that are bolted to the wall. The bricks then release the heat during the day. Marvellous. Except that most people are out of the house all day and want the heat at night which means you have to keep them switched on in order to have any heat at night which costs an absolute bloody packet. I had these at a house before and our first electricity bill, in 1996, was over £500 for one quarter. I dare not switch them on. Storage heating is The Landlords’ Choice as it requires no plumbing in or installation of expensive boilers. It also means that if you want to have enough money to pay your rent you’d better not switch them on.
This means that I have to think of other ways to keep my house warm. The first way, which I wrote about last year, is to cover your windows with cling film or purpose built plastic to keep out the draughts. It is incredibly effective and cheap.
Next, I have bought curtains from the charity shop and stitched them together to make one big curtain that covers the front door.
I have also found some old curtains that don’t fit anywhere else and this weekend I’m going to make a thick curtain to cover the sitting room door in an attempt the block out the icy draught that could not be colder if we were shooting Dr Zhivago on location.
I have bought us all electric blankets so that at least we can be warm in bed.
I’m going to buy some oil filled radiators which are apparently much, much cheaper to run. I tried to have a look on Freecycle but the internet keeps crashing so it will have to wait until tomorrow and failing that a trip to Argos seems in order.
There is an open fire in the sitting room and once I’ve put the curtain at the door and cling film at the windows that should be warm enough, but some arsehole has boarded up the fireplace in the dining room with a sheet of hardboard and sealed it with silicone. I have tried to chisel this out but most of the silicone is behind the board so I’ll have to buy a chemical solvent to remove it. The landlord assures me that the chimney is fit for use so it must be true, but in true Wartime Housewife Style, I have my own set of chimney brushes and unless there a boy or a brick stuck up there, we should be good to go.
Draught excluders under the doors are also essential and attractive ones can be made very simply by sewing up a tube of material and stuffing it with rags. If you don’t want to be irritated by constantly moving them every time you go in and out, attach little loops along the top, screw small curtain hooks into the door about 2” / 4cm above the bottom to line up with the loops and hang the draught excluder from it, obviously making sure that it sits on the ground.
Apart from that, I’m going to wear more jumpers and thicker socks. And then I shall stock up on lace hankies in case my consumption comes back.