“The swan brings snow on its beak.” So goes a Russian proverb. And the first Bewick swan has arrived in from the North – a record early arrival . Meanwhile the sea around Scotland is at its coldest ever recorded level for this time of year. On top of that, it’s already snowing on Cairngorm, set for a really good ski-ing season. So I have decided this is the year I am going to winterproof my gaff.
My one priority is that I don’t want to buy anything I can’t take with me when I have to move.
So I’m starting with the front door. It’s North-facing and when it’s open an icy blast rushes in (as well as a lot of dust and litter). I decide the answer to this is an insulating door curtain. Ambitious! After doing some research on the internet, I decide what I need is an ‘extendable drapery arm’. The best price I can find is £25. Next comes the thermal door curtain – £15 in the Argos catalogue. It’s plain cream but I can probably tart it up a bit. Oh and while I’m shopping on the sofa – £10 for a red polkadot doggy draught excluder, also in the Argos catalogue.
Houses dry out over the summer period, but in the winter condensation causes damp, and we are told that a damp home is harder to heat, while a drier home is warmer as well as being more comfortable. I need to tackle this problem with a dehumidifier. They come in several sizes. One that sucks up seven litres a day costs about £150 – wowsers, and it’s heavy to lift. But a midi version sucks up 350ml (£50) and a compact mini sucks up 250ml (£40), so a mini it is, you just have to empty it regularly.
Another cheap but worthwhile job: radiator heat reflector foils, which are panels attached with double-sided tape. There is a cheaper way of doing it, with foam-backed foil on a roll, but you have to use your ingenuity to stick it to the wall with wallpaper paste. But I can vouch for the usefulness of this product on the walls of damp cupboards and wardrobes. I’m going for the panels – two for £13.
While researching the internet I was rather taken by an Electric Airer (£30) which uses as much electricity as a 100-watt lightbulb, but I decided I didn’t have the space for it.
I’m also going to invest in a packet of stick-on draught excluder for the windows. Obviously I can’t take them with me, but that’s not expensive so I’ll take the hit.
I totted it all up and it came to £103. I realise I also need insulating curtains for my windows, and another rug to stop the cold coming through the floorboards/ But that is as much as I’m spending for now. I can’t guarantee it will mean lower bills, but hopefully it will make my place more comfy. And when I move, I can take it all with me!