Baby it’s cold outside but there are a number of cheap heating hacks you can try to keep your Victorian home warm this winter without having money to burn.
Many Victorian homes, especially those which retain their original features such as single-glazed sash windows and hardwood floorboards, are very drafty and in winter that can mean a dreadful chill so the best heating hacks concerns draft-proofing your home as best you can.
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That can mean anything from draft excluders at exterior doors — not forgetting draft-excluding covers for openings such as letterboxes and keyholes — to heavier curtains at windows. You could even consider full length curtains at exterior doors too to help keep Jack Frost at bay.
If there is a particularly cold snap and your single-glazed windows are very drafty a quick and cheap fix could be to cover the inside of them with bubble wrap — though it may clash with your Christmas decorations! It does work, but is only suggested as a short term fix.
It is estimated that up to 40% of your home’s heat is lost through doors, windows and the floor so these are clearly the first areas you need to take a look at when thinking about heating hacks.
Around 35% of heat loss is through the walls and 25% is lost through the roof so consider loft and cavity wall insulation too. This generally doesn’t come cheap but it will soon pay for itself and you may even qualify for a grant to help cover the cost of the work and materials.
Victorian homes weren’t built with central heating and when it is added wooden floorboards very often begin to shrink and can become gappy. If gappy floorboards are a problem in your home you can apply silicone sealant to help stop the draft and heat escape. Using thicker underlay below the carpet is also effective in insulating floorboards.
Simple good housekeeping can be one of the best and cheapest heating hacks. Make sure all windows are shut firmly and close the doors to rooms you are not using. That will cut down on drafts and help keep the warmth in.
In the rooms that you do use, make sure the sofa or your favorite recliner doesn’t block a vent or sit right in front of the radiator. It may feel nice when you’re sitting there, but it’s also preventing heat from circulating through the rest of the house. You’ll probably have to move furniture when it’s time to set up the Christmas tree anyway, so when you do, make sure furniture doesn’t obstruct air flow.
If you have central heating, regular servicing will increase its efficiency but you can try other heating hacks too. Silver foil placed down the back of a radiator will reflect heat back into a room rather than letting it escape through the walls. Kitchen foil can be wrapped around pieces of cardboard which have been cut to size to make it easier to fit.
Specialist radiator foil is available – which is stuck on with strong wallpaper paste – for around £7 a roll from B&Q and builders merchants such as screwfix.com.
In many homes it will prove cheaper to leave your central heating on low permanently, rather than turning it up high when you are cold and then turning it down or off when you are too hot. That will stop your boiler working too hard and burning excessive fuel — think of it as accelerating hard and then braking hard in your car. It’s far more comfortable and cost effective to drive in a smoother manner, the same goes for your central heating!
Remember, you should leave your heating on low if you are going away for a few days too, it will prevent the danger of pipes freezing.
You can get an awful lot of heat from an open fire or wood burner so it might be time to think about lighting yours. Before you do you will need to make sure the chimney is clear, it is safe to light and you are using the right fuel. You can Learn how to keep your Victorian fireplace safe, clean and efficient here.
Another great source of heat is the oven in your kitchen. Get baking, boiling and roasting and the heat will permeate the whole home, much as the aroma of the food you are creating will do too. When you’ve finished, one of the best heating hacks is to leave the oven door ajar — as long as there are no small children or inquisitive pets in the house — and enjoy that residual heat.
If all else fails, boil the kettle and carefully fill a hot water bottle or stick on another jumper.
While you’re at it check if you’re eligible for a Green Homes Grant for improvements that will make your home more energy efficient and cheaper to run, while keeping you toasty warm at the same time.