Sustainable and sustainability are words that are banded about a lot these days everyone wants to be sustainable. Everyone wants to tell you how to be sustainable but before I go any further let’s see what that actually means. The dictionary tells us this; sustainable, conserving an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resource. Well then that is pretty full on and as I sit on a laptop that contains a battery made from horrid substances, using electricity, clogging up servers with my blog and pearls of ‘wisdom’ I feel somewhat hypocritical but just because we are sitting in a burning building with nothing but a thimble of water it cannot hurt to chuck it at the flames and give it a go?
I am doing okay financially but there was a time when I only ate one meal a day and would send an unsigned cheque to pay for the water rates or send the cheque for the gas company to the electricity company. Yes in the days before online paperless billing and one company for everything you could do that and buy yourself a little time. Being well versed in living on the breadline I get upset when you look around for sustainable ways to stay warm and see endless articles on loft lagging, new boilers, cavity wall etc etc. Whilst all of those things are valid none of those things are cheap, in fact they are huge amounts of money. We do okay but we still opted to replace a valve and the heat exchange on our boiler because a new system is a huge amount of cash and we do not have a bottomless pit of that stuff.
Most of these things are common sense but they work and they are worth mentioning.
1. Find & Where Possible Eliminate Draughts
New windows, fancy floors all of those are great but again costly, find the breeze and block it even if the result is not pretty. When we bought our home in Yorkshire we came back to the UK to a very cold Autumn and a home that had wind whistling in at most of the windows, old broken sash with very visible gaps to the elements. We also had wooden floors with huge gaps and cold air flow. The worst room was the lounge so we put down a rug that we had, it was too small so we created a patchwork effect to stop the cold air from the cellar, cheap rugs from Ikea and rugs we had it did not look chic or boho it just did the job. We also taped cling film up over the windows with the largest gaps. It looked awful but it worked. Making draught excluders is another cheap and simple way to keep the heat in and leads me neatly to my next point.
2 Close The Doors
I know all of the house shows want you to knock out all of the internal walls but I like walls and separate spaces are easier to heat so if you have not already gone sledge hammer crazy in your home close the doors. Now when I was younger I was always told to turn off the heating in rooms you are not using or you do not use as often but now I am married to a physicist who works in energy and he tells me this is poppycock. All that will do is create a cold spot in your home so that any warm air will flow straight into it.
3. Wear A Jumper
Seems like it is common sense but people honestly think that jumpers are outdoor clothes. I am always baffled when I go to visit people and they are dressed for summer in the house when it is 10 below outside, I am equally confused when they remark on my home being cold because I have a jumper on. It is cold wear warm clothes.
4. Close The Curtains
Curtains they keep the warmth in. The number of times I see people close them when the sun is bright, (even in winter) because it is annoying or making it hard to see the TV and open them again as the sun goes in is huge. Let the sun come in, even winter sun has heat and as soon as dusk hits close them.
There are blankets all over our house. In a chest in the lounge, in all of the bedrooms and they do not have to cost a fortune. You can get really good quality ones from the army surplus store and if you really cannot stand the look of them add a little embroidery with wool remnants. Layering blankets on the bed or over you on the sofa will really help keep out the chills.
6. Socks Slippers & Dressing Gowns
You do not need to break the bank on these items and you should buy for snuggle power rather than how pretty they are. Yes the silky gown and the foofy slippers may make you look all fancy but shivering is not a good look, think fluffy, think warmth. Wear socks and slippers it is not sexy but then again I am sure that in a diverse world someone, somewhere has a sock and slipper fetish just by the sheer law of averages. The same goes for socks in bed, my feet are always cold so bed socks do happen.
7. Hot Water Bottles
These have to be the most sustainable form of extra heating. I work from home so long days at home mean I am responsible for the heat I do not have an office and an employer who legally has to heat me. If I am at home without the children I am not going to turn the heating on I get a blanket and a hot water bottle and localise the heating. Hot water bottles are great for bed too, there is nothing more luxurious than slipping into a pre warmed bed in the winter much more environmentally friendly than an electric blanket.
8. Don’t Block The Radiator
I have ranted about radiator covers before here but this goes beyond the inefficiency of covers it looks at furniture placement too. The way that they work is by creating a cycle of air flow if you plonk your sofa right up against it it blocks that flow. Now I accept we do not always have full control as to furniture placement due to space and in those cases pull things as far away from it as you can. This is not a matter of taste it is just science, let the radiator work effectively.
If you or anyone you know are in real trouble this winter go and seek help people do die from the cold. If you have a neighbour who is in need or you feel is suffering from the cold please go and check on them and please remember those without a home and help wherever you can. Thank you for reading.