Now that January has graced us with its presence, winter will soon come at full throttle. Unfortunately, the rising cost of heating doesn't correlate with the fall in temperatures. On top of this, conventional heating methods that we have grown accustomed to are proven to have a detrimental effect on the environment. For those who are conscious of their carbon footprint, or conversely, for those who are concerned about their back pockets, changing a few elements in your usual winter repertoire can make all the difference.
Fortunately, there are many options at your disposal to combat the dreaded cold and keep the welfare of the environment in mind. Whether you live in a small apartment or country manor, you can apply one, or all of the tips below to your home. So, without further ado, let's take a look at our 9 ways to keep your house warm this winter.
The dawn of minimalism saw homes stripped of curtains, favouring sheer blinds or no window dressing at all. In terms of sustainability and heat retention, this is a really poor move. It has been proven that heavy curtains or drapes can cut your heating costs by 25%. By adding curtains, you are essentially adding another layer to help control the flow of air. Most of the prized internal heat we've created is lost through windows, as glass is a poor thermal conductor - this will be discussed further in point 4. Realistically, the thicker the curtain, the better. You can even add thermal backing behind the fabric, further improving the quality of heat retention. Above all, curtains are a beautiful finishing detail in a room. Here, Helen Green Design has added an extra illusion of height and touch of elegance to this already ethereal space.
As with curtains, it is no secret that shutters are also a great way to keep the heat both in, and out. When you ask most people about shutters, they naturally assume that they're to be placed on the outside of the home. However, indoor shutters are gaining immense popularity for many reasons. More often than not, shutters are made from material that has fantastic thermal resistance such as wood or composite material. Known for their insulating proprieties, shutters provide both privacy and come with many energy saving benefits. When used in conjunction with curtains, you are potentially slashing the amount of heat loss in half. The New England Shutter Company have a huge range of shutters to suit a myriad of different living situations and styles, as evidenced in this modern living room.
Hot tip: If you close the shutters on the eastern facing windows of your house during late to mid morning, and conversely, on the western face in the afternoon, you prevent cool air from escaping.
Rugs and carpet, unbeknownst to most, prevent heat from escaping through the floors. This applies to those who have large segments of liveable spaces such as living rooms and bedrooms with tiles or floorboards. Therefore, to keep that previous heat from getting out and maintain a constant temperature (even during summer), add a rug or carpet the rooms you want to stay toasty warm! Not only does it make a room look cosier, but the energy saving and power bill slashing benefits are apparent. Carpet can look modern, too. Take note of the design by Mister Smith Interiors in the above image, and see how an air of Scandinavian minimalism was achieved. Carpet is also far more pleasant to walk on when you get out of bed on a cold winter morning, and is nicer for babies and children to play on, too!
As mentioned earlier, windows are one of the main sources of heat loss in the home. It is especially an issue in old homes where the seals are worn down and there is only single glazing present. If you have a house with a stunning view, like the pictured property from ArchitectureLIVE, you want to make the most of your surroundings with a wall of glass. Luckily, double glazing and energy saving solutions are readily available these days to combat the potential massive loss of heat transference through a glass surface. Or, as pictured and mentioned in points 1 and 2, you can use curtains to keep the heat out, or in, depending on the time of day!
In the winter time, there is nothing more appealing than the look and sound of a crackling fire. Burning logs can be time consuming and costly, especially if your winter stockpile of logs isn't exactly bountiful. Fortunately, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. In this example by Direct Stoves, you can choose from fuel or log burning for your winter heating. Whether you have a sleek modern interior fit out, or a house with rustic country charm, these heaters are a wonderful focal point to your living space. Nowadays, you can run these heaters with environmentally friendly bio-fuels such as ethanol and hydrogen—a win win situation for all!
Appropriately zoning your home with internal doors is a great way to keep habitable spaces from losing that all important heat you've created. Whilst open plan living is encouraged and coveted, unconditioned spaces like hallways, entrances and bathrooms can absorb heat which is needed elsewhere. A large living space is obviously much harder to heat and keep warm than a smaller, well zoned area. The science behind it is quite simple—the greater the air mass, the more energy that is required to either heat or maintain a constant temperature. So, close off the doors instead of leaving them wide open, or, if it's possible, install additional internal doors to prevent heat loss.
Cosy textiles and textures not only help to add a feeling of warmth to a space, but also help to hold onto the heat created. There is a reason we have summer and winter linen in our bedrooms, so the same should apply to other rooms in the house like the living room. Throws and blankets are easily stored during the summer months, and can be brought out of the cupboard at the drop of a hat when a chill is felt. Textures like fur (faux for the animal lovers) and wool are not only completely wonderful to snuggle up under after a busy day, but they also provide a warm ambience that cooler fabrics like cotton and bleached linen simply cannot do. JC interiors have created this wonderfully cosy scene that we know would be blissful to sip a cup of hot chocolate or indulge in a good novel.
Winter is the perfect time to exert your baking abilities, or if it isn't your forte, it is the best time to tweak your mediocre (or non-existent!) skills. Instead of using the stove top on a daily basis, think about dishes that you can create in the oven. In effect, you are actually killing two birds with one stone. You will have a delicious meal on your hands, as well as a toasty warm kitchen and living room. For maximum effect, heed the advice above. Zone the rooms off appropriately or close the blinds and shutters to retain the heat (and wonderful aromas) you've just created. The kitchen is the heart of many homes for good reason, and once upon a time, occupants relied upon the cooking hearth for their winter warmth entirely. Nowadays, we have access to stunning kitchen design concepts, like the pictured example from DHV Architects. In this instance, it is possible to blend aesthetics and functionality!
Failing this, the simplest and most cost effective way is actually the one thing your grandmother preached at you the most—add an extra layer! Natural and breathable fibres such as linen and flannelette are age old materials to retain the heat created from your body. The Linen Works, suppliers of this linen and bamboo blend ensemble, are supporters and advocates of natural materials for the home. But in all honesty, who can overlook a pair of cute pyjamas!
Keen to see more house and living tips? Check out the following ideabooks: