Looking for advice about how to stay warm in an old house this winter? Here are some practical tips from some of our members. Simple weatherization, smart use of systems, warm clothes and snuggling seem to be major themes.
From Benjamin Wilson (1791 former tavern, Hopkinton)
1. We draw curtains at night.
2. We have a separately zoned Modine blower in the unfinished basement that we keep set at 55 degrees.
3. We turn down the heat at night to 58 degrees and supplement the heat in our children’s room with an efficient electric heater.
4. We wear warm clothes and use the winter as an excuse to buy clothing. We don't skimp when buying socks. Warm feet means warm body.
5. I put on a union suit in November and don’t take it off until April.
6. We make sure fireplace dampers are kept tightly shut.
7. We use warm lighting and burn lots of candles that give the impression of a warm environment. Creates a sense of romance, and everyone knows love warms the heart.
8. We spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter, so coming inside always feels warm.
9. We make a lot of soup and cook more using the stove. We always leave the oven door open after use while it cools.
10. We keep the attic staircase opening sealed off all winter.
11. We take cooler, shorter showers and run the bathroom vent fans for less time.
12. We always keep cozy blankets close by and do a lot of snuggling as a family when watching TV or reading.
From Bill and Casey Devine (c. 1769 home, Boscawen)
We insulated a good portion of the house, but the two downstairs front rooms, the south keeping room wall and our bedroom and upstairs hall have absolutely no insulation at all! Our most used room is the front parlor and it is some chilly! Given the cracked plaster and breezes that flow in from there and the baseboard areas, we’ve done two things to make it more bearable: put rolled up towels against the baseboards and covered the cracked plaster with duct tape! Yup! Good old duct tape to the rescue! We add a quilt or throw when it gets really chilly!
We also installed low E glass interior storm windows on all downstairs windows as well as the upstairs bath. They went on in January 2015 and made a major improvement (Innerglass who we met at the Preservation Alliance’s 2012 Old House and Barn Expo). Used Unitil’s “energy efficiency” calculator last week and, to my surprise, we rated a 6 or 7, just at the upper end of the “energy compliant” range. This summer I also added Conservation Technology’s window and door weatherstripping (http://conservationtechnology.com/building.html).
From Monique Dumont (1827 Cape, Jaffrey)
1) This idea was kind of a splurge, but anyone with an old house and icy floors would appreciate it... because they know what this feels like. In the bathroom, I chose to do slate tile on the floor... and went for radiant heat under it…it's magical.
2) We still have rickety triple-track storms, but they help a ton, and I'm not giving up my old windows.
From Sarah Hofe (1880s Vernacular, Contoocook)
One thing Chi has noticed in his job is folks don't always close their windows properly. Learn how to close the storm window correctly. Also, make sure the sashes are fully closed and locked...especially check to make sure that the upper sash is up all the way.
Also, I would not survive winter without my electric blanket! It allows us to put the thermostat down low overnight.