We have been very lucky to have had such a mild winter so far. Last year I invested in two cheap convector heaters and we use these around the house to keep warm. They’re really good as they heat a room very quickly, have three settings from 750 watts to 2000 watts and have a good thermostat.
The oil based central heating and hot water system is just too expensive to use regularly these days. It has an override and comes on automatically if the temperature falls below zero degrees. We are hoping that the remaining third of a tank of oil will see us through to the summer. It was sleeting when I went out to get the logs and can hear our old boiler roaring away now. It will be warm downstairs this evening!
This winter we bought one of these Dimplex DXLWP800 Low Wattage Electric Panel Heater, 800 Watt that takes the chill from the sitting room in the evening before the open fire gets going.
We don’t have gas in the village so we are dependent on oil and electricity. Luckily we have a large open fire in the sitting room and a small wood burner in the kitchen. So if there’s a power cut we can still keep warm.
We have been told that there is a cellar under the kitchen in the cottage. The entrance was blocked up years before I arrived, as it was constantly flooding. The kitchen floor is always cold in the winter – no need to chill the beer in the fridge and the big sacks of spuds last for months. We suspect that in very cold weather any water down there freezes as the temperature drops to an eye wateringly freezing level. My move to the Rat Room will mean further savings as we won’t need to heat the kitchen all day. It’s also much warmer upstairs since I added a lot more lagging to the roof space.
Back in the old days when I first came to the cottage I used a lot of oil. Roughly, 2700 litres a year. Oil was cheap then and the cottage was always snug and warm. Over the past year we have got away with using 600 litres. We made this hefty saving by not having hot water on demand. This means allowing 40 minutes for the water to heat up in the cylinder on the days that we have a shower, and then rushing about using the surplus hot water for cleaning and washing clothes. I was amazed by just doing this one thing could save so much oil!
This year I’m going to invest in a decent electric shower that just heats the water that’s needed. This will save even more money in the long term. I’m also considering an electric immersion heater.
And in the summer I’m going to try using this method of heating water using a hot compost heap. Our compost heap is beside the human graves and these have a six foot yew hedge on one side and a tall fence on the other. This means that it will be very easy to set up a simple modesty screen. If it works I can imagine anything more delightful than taking a shower under the trees that shade the end of the garden.
Last year I kept the garden hose extended full length in the garden. On a sunny day the water in the hose heats up quite quickly and by the afternoon there was free hot water for a quick 2-3 minute shower! Essential after a sweaty afternoon working in the garden.
I also looked into our electricity usage and costs. When I first moved here, I was working in London at the time and only here at weekends. So I chose a scheme that involved no daily standing charge. With this deal each unit of electricity used cost a lot more than the tariffs with a standing charge but if you don’t use much electricity it can be a good deal. I had forgotten all about this decision (well it was over 20 years ago!). So I’ve switched supplier and saved 28%. From now on I’m going to check out electricity supply options every year as this oversight must have cost us thousands over the years.
Leave a reply