Thursday, November 21, 2013

Singing the praises of curtains

Last night Brussels saw its first snow of the year. I love winter. I love the snuggly-ness you get inside, with blankets and hot water bottles, cocoa and mulled wine, and lots of pies and stews and solid, hearty, wholesome food. I love listening to the sound of the rain and wind outside, while burrowing deeper into the duvet. Inside seems even cosier when outside is so inhospitable.

However, keeping inside cosy while outside gets colder and colder is not easy. Or cheap. This is our first full winter in our new flat, as we moved in last January, and the one thing I have to say is: Curtains make a HUGE difference. First snow last night, we still haven't turned on a single radiator. This is inducing a probably appalling level of smugness - ooh check us out, we still haven't turned on the heating. I need to tone this down, I think. Of course, this is not a massive feat of endurance, as we have occupied flats above, below and either side of us, so the insulation is high from the start.

So. Five things we are doing to keep the heating off, and two things I want to add.

1. Curtains.

Curtains curtains curtains. I can't stress enough even how much difference hanging a thin pair of net curtains made when they finally went up last spring. Lined curtains are orders of magnitude more effective yet. Hang curtains. Ours are homemade, and cost me a total of €350 for four pairs of wall-to-wall floor-length curtains, two of them lined. And €120 of that was the first curtains, before I figured out the shortcuts.

2. Blankets.

I know I'm all about the decluttering these days but I still think you cannot have enough blankets. Heaped on the bed or draped invitingly over the sofa, snuggle under blankets anywhere and everywhere. Soft, warm, and a warm glowy feeling of 'I made that'. I have several crocheted blankets and the warmest by far is the one using Lucy's Ripple Pattern (from Attic24), which has the added benefit of being super easy.

3. Jumpers.

An old but a classic one. Put a jumper on over that t-shirt. Or if you're already doing that, add a vest underneath. No picture unfortunately - but it's on my to knit list.

4. Feets.

We lose much heat through our feets. House shoes, slippers, woolly bedsocks. Keep your tootsies warm and the rest of you will be fine.

5. Opening windows.

Yeah, might sound crazy, but make sure you open your windows at least once a day and get a good air flow through. Cleaner air means better lung health for you, less moisture creating mould you'll just have to clean off, and lower moisture levels also mean that it takes less energy to heat the air in your home. I know, the heating isn't on. It still makes a difference - the impact of the warm water passing through pipes to the bathroom, of having the oven on etc are magnified.

Still to do: Rugs.

I've been looking around at rag rugs and so on for a while. Definitely something I want to have a go at. Even with socks on, I can feel we're losing a fair amout of heat through the floor especially in certain places (ie where you can't feel hot water pipes serving as free underfloor heating).

Still to do: Draught excluders.

This is something I hope to get around to sooner rather than later. I can't feel a draught under the door to the rest of the building, but I can see light under it. Just not yet sure which side is warmer... This is an important point to ascertain before adding insulation.

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