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Heating living room in a rented house  RSS feed

 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hello,

I live in a house rented for 2 months in north of Scotland.
Climate is cold here and the house is terribly insulated and temperature drops to 13°C (55°F) at night!

The house is rented and I am limited in what I can do in the house. And it´s short-term.
The owner she uses a night storage heater (which I find terribly expensive and unefficient) plus a old fashion wood heater (which seems to work a bit better and cheaper, but far from efficient)
I use mostly the wood heater, trying to keep a good fire throughout the day, and sleeping with a thick blanket at night. But still I crave for a bit some comfort.
Electricity bills here are crazy expensive, and even without using electricity for heating, it still is very expensive to keep just the fridge and hot water for shower in the bathroom (basically I am having a shower every 3-4 days).

Besides wandering around with hot cups of teas and dressing all sweaters I have, what else can I do?
We have a baby (and I also have a couple of tomato plants indoors), so we search to have a much warmer and confortable living room.

I lived in dozens of rented appartments before, but this is so far the coldest house I have ever lived. Bad insulated houses, cold climate and very expensive electricity bills.
Seems to be an ubiquitous problem in north Scotland.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal
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Electric blankets are a good way to keep cozy at night for not very much cost in electricity.  They are fairly cheap to buy, plus you can take them with you when you move again.  Not so good for a baby though.
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Okay, understand that I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who grew up dirt poor (my mother still suffers the consequences of starving herself to afford healthy food for us) so it's possible that my ideas may come off as a bit kooky.

Packing tape and sheets of plastic can create instant double pane windows, where seeing out isn't important you can just put up old fashioned bubble wrap. Make sure you have good weather stripping at all exterior doors. If the situation is bad enough that large amounts of heat are passing directly through the walls, try wall hangings. The larger the better. If you're like me, you have some blankets with lovely embroidery or patterns that you wouldn't mind looking at on a regular basis. Basically you can create the effect of a tent within the house without loosing much space or functionality. There's a reason why tapestries where such a part of old castle decorations.

If these steps aren't enough, then you can move on to rearranging the furniture. To this day we still find zoning increases the functionality of our house in many ways. If you can arrange your furniture to create the smallest practical room around your heat source with taller furniture like bookcases or cabinets forming the walls for the room, you can create a warmer microclimate. Using small furniture inside the 'room' that can easily be rearranged to suit different purposes makes this more functional. If you can't do this for the use of the whole family, maybe just a corner arranged to catch heat where you can put a play area for the baby?

Also remember when you're dressing for warmth, many layers of very light clothing are better insulation and usually more comfortable than bulky items. Pull out your old exercise clothing, those tight spandex that should never see the light of day. Usually you can fit another pair of pants over spandex, just make sure they're loose enough for some breathing room. Too tight and it adds no insulation. Add a long sleeved t-shirt and then cover that with a looser long shirt. It never gets cold enough to need more than that here, but I imagine if that didn't work the next option would be the sweater. Always keep your feet warm, so double up those socks if your feet get cold. A huge amount of heat is lost through the top of your head, so have a couple of comfortable hats. Remember, not only was this the normal fashion before central heating, people used to sleep in hats, too.

Hopefully some of this will be helpful.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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The only thing I would add to Casie's excellent post is to add kume curtains to all your windows.  The are cheap and easy to make and you can take them with you when you leave.  You could even make the wall and ceiling tapestries that Casie mentioned in the same kume curtain design if you wanted to.

Kume curtain instructions
 
Roy Clarke
Posts: 134
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Yup! Scotland is cool, ok, cold(ish). Don't worry about baby, we have friends in Aberdeen where we used to keep our coats on indoors when we went to visit while their 6 month old was in a baby bouncer chair thingy, on the floor, with a short sleeve top. He's now 5 years old and doing well. He probably had fewer diseases to contend with as the bugs couldn't survive the cold. A shower every 3 or 4 days is fine, people wash far too much nowadays, and they wash their disease protection away with it. Thermals, several layers of clothes and good food is a good approach, and the lower temperatures mean your system needs to burn fat to keep warm. If you can have a log fire, that makes a cold room feel warm as you get the heat direct from the fire, though the room temperature probably won't rise.
 
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