Frugal insulation – Baby, it’s cold outside

Those of you based in the UK know that yesterday morning it suddenly got very cold! We have had a mild Autumn so far and it is feeling like a horrible shock to me. I have barely had the heating on up to now, but last night I had it on full blast and ended up curled up in bed with my fleecy pyjamas on at 9.30! It doesn’t help that I am full of cold and feeling sorry for myself I am sure.

So, what to do? I don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on heating this year. But how to make Shoestring Cottage feel warmer without a major investment? I need some frugal insulation ideas.

frugal insulationFrugal insulation

We have already insulated the house by getting the loft done with super thick insulation and the wall cavities filled. However, the loft hatch is not insulated. We have some spare so the first thing will be to cut a square of insulation material and tack it on to the loft side of the hatch. That should cut out some drafts coming down from the roof space.

I also think we need to get some reflective foil on the back of some of the radiators. This is available at £7 a roll (£1.40 a metre) from B&Q. I just You Tubed how to fit it and it seemed a pretty straightforward frugal insulation solution.

The power of curtains

I bought a lined curtain for the front door a few years ago but never put it up, mainly because the special hinged curtain rails that ensure the curtain rail opens with the door are quite expensive. I think I need to revisit this idea, as we get a lot of cold air coming in through this particular door. In addition, Wickes sell brush draught excluders for doors that you fit around the frame. I will  drag Mr S along to inspect those. They only cost £11.99 for a full door’s worth.

I would love to replace all of the very ancient and fairly inadequate double glazing, but that kind of expenditure is not an option. All of the curtains in the house are lined already. I could replace with thermal linings but that is going to be expensive and time consuming. I will do this but not immediately. It will have to be done bit by bit. I don’t have a sewing maching so I will have to sew extra linings in by hand. Wickes sell secondary glazing film which has good reviews on their website. This is only £6.89 for 6 square metres which is good value I think, although it looks as if it might be tricky to fit on larger windows. If it gets really cold this winter, I have a box of bubble wrap in the shed – I will be taping that to the coldest windows to reduce the draughts!!

Warm underfoot

I also need to invest in a few more rugs. There are very few carpets in the house which is practical but means the floors are quite cold under your feet. I will keep an eye out for suitable bargains.

I found a good body warmer recently on eBay for a couple of pounds. I knew it would be handy and I was right. I am wearing it now with my fur lined slippers. I also have a vest and a jumper on. As it gets colder I will be layering up rather than immediately putting on the heating and will encourage my family to do the same. DD3 doesn’t feel the cold like me though. I will be huddling under a blanket whilst she is walking about in her T-shirt! The benefits of youth I think.

I never have the heating on at night. The cats each have a domed basket to hide in (or they sleep with me) and we all have extra blankets on the beds. I also have a blanket on the sofa to hide under whilst watching TV.

Have the temperatures fallen where you are? How do you keep your house warm and cosy? What do you think of my frugal insulation measures?

7 thoughts on “Frugal insulation – Baby, it’s cold outside

  1. Hi

    Can you afford £35 for a sewing machine. John Lewis have a small half sized machine on sale at the moment which is nothing fancy but it does basic sewing. My friends daughter was going to buy her 9 year old one of the children’s machines that only chain stitches (not a proper stitch) but when she clapped eyes on this she bought it and her daughter is getting on super with it. But it is ideal as a machine for an adult – it is compact does not take up much room and in the bigger scheme of things not that expensive when it comes to a machine). Just a thought.

    Hot water bottles for when you are sat down under your blanket watching TV. Slipper boots with a cuff or part leg.

    You can buy detachable linings that you just use curtain hooks to attach to the back of aa curtain or use a fleece blanket and safety pins to provide a little bit more warmth and thickness to the curtain. and weight.

    I only have the heating on for an hour or so at a time until the house feels really warm and then switch it down so that you are not constantly heating it then when you feel chilly again bump it up and then down. Some parts of the house are quite warm and some are quite cold. Keep everyone in one main room and keep that room really warm and if it gets too hot open the door and let it flood through the rest of the house.

    If I had my own home I would invest in a multi fuel burner (one that you can cook on as well) to keep the house toasty. It will add value in the long run to the property.

    Instead of cotton sheets at this time of the year flannelette sheets.

    If you boil the kettle and fill it and only make tea for yourself put the rest in a thermos flask and then make the rest of your drinks from this hot water. Saves having to boil the kettle again but makes sure you have a supply of hot water for drinks.

    Hope this helps.


  2. Is your heat controlled by thermostat? I ask, because we had a friend who worked for the power company who said it saves a lot of money to keep the thermostat set at a modest temperature instead of turning heat off and on. It takes *more* energy to continually re-heat a cold house. Also, in the same way humidity can make a house feel hotter in summer, it can make a house feel colder in winter.

    We use flannel sheets and an electric blanket on our beds as nights get cool and keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees F throughout the winter months. I use the gas oven more, too, in winter months as baking/roasting helps heat the main living areas, and doing laundry at night with the dryer running also helps. We do live in a mild area, but our (rented) house is old and uninsulated. Winter heating costs us about $60-75 U.S. per month.

  3. I came across your site via Life Without Money. One way to keep a house warmer is to put bubble wrap on the inside of your window panes. Clean them and put the plastic onto the slightly wet pane. Light comes in, but the window doesn’t get as cold. Cut the wrap to fit the individual panes as going across the wood/metal parts doesn’t seem to work for me.

  4. just told my husband about our hatch, thanks for that. we also are insulated in the roof, and have wall cavities filled. thermal lined curtains. our multi burner is wonderful. when it gets to warm in the sitting room we open the door to the rest of the house, it was 24 degrees tonight.

  5. Jane, this brought back memories of living in the North in Illinois, US. We live in Texas where it seldom gets very cold, but we woke up to frost this morning and temps in the 20s. Our house is stone on the outside and has a well-insulated roof, but high ceilings. Fans help keep the heat down from the ceiling, but I’m always chilly when it gets just a bit cool. Like you, I have some furry slippers and a jacket handy to put on if I get chilled. Hubby actually gets colder than I. My hands and feet are my biggest challenge. Keep warm and get well, my friend.

  6. Pingback: What’s your best money saving idea? | Shoestring Cottage

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