Wednesday, 5 October 2011


It's autumn, and an ideal time to think about how we are going to keep ourselves and our houses warm throughout the winter without spending a huge amount on heating bills! I'm in the middle of packing away all my summer clothes, getting out the winter ones and deciding what I need and what I need to get rid of (in the most frugal way possible, that is). I know I have plenty of scarves, gloves and one hat (not a very warm one I might add) so I'm going to knit myself a snood cum neckwarmer with some yarn I found at the charity shop. Charity shops are a good source of jumpers, mittens, woolly hats and gloves - start looking now for what you need.
We can keep warmer by rethinking our clothing- layers always keep us warm, but if you work somewhere warm, you need to be able to peel away some of those layers! But, if you are at home more, then before you flick that switch on the heating, think about what you're wearing. Start from the skin up - you may not own thermal vests and longjohns, but any long sleeved tee shirt and thick trousers with long socks or woolly tights will certainly make a difference to how warm you feel. Layer up with a jumper and then a cardi or fleece. I even wear a scarf most of the time indoors - well, it looks decorative, at least! If I'm working at home I never put the heating on until I'm ready to sit still either reading or at the computer. Hoovering the floor, tidying up, dusting and polishing, all keep me warm enough. I haven't tried fingerless mittens for working at the computer yet, but it's a good idea!
We don't have the heating on at night unless the temperatures have been glacial for days, that is, so we use a thick winter duvet with an overblanket. No-one in our house ever complains that they're cold! Thermal pyjamas, bedsocks and hot water bottles are also useful!
Once you do have the heating on you really don't want to see your heat escaping out through draughty doors and windows and up chimneys, so now is the time to do a check. If your windows are draughty and you can't afford to replace them, then think about installing a plastic film across them, not very pretty, I know - but most of the time it'll be hidden behind the curtains. Draught excluder tape also works quite well, but it doesn't suit all styles of windows. When we had old style sliding windows, we used to stuff all the cracks with crumpled newspaper which we didn't take out until spring!
Talking of curtains, the thicker the better - and always make sure they are behind your radiators if they are long- not in front. Buy or make extra curtain linings to hang behind your curtains - yet another heat saver. A heavy front door curtain makes a huge difference if you can feel a draught, (try to find old heavy curtains at jumble sales or charity shops) and, for internal doors, you can make up draught excluders from fabric scraps, make sure you have warm blankets and throws on your sofas and layer up your floors with more rugs if you have them.
We have a redundant chimney which does have a gas fire in the grate, but we just about never need to use it, so we bundled up a huge amount of bubble wrap in a carrier bag, tied the top with string and pushed it up the chimney - the draught stopped immediately. Do remember it's there though (we tied the end of the string to the fire basket to remind ourselves) before you light any fires!
Happy Frugal Autumn!

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