Saturday, 8 November 2014

Being cold in winter

Is not good for you, according to the tonight programme on British TV recently. You can read for yourselves about the experiment here

The experiment lasted for just 5 1/2 hours before the journalist's core temperature showed he was experiencing mild hypothermia. Mind you, sitting there at 12C in a shirt and trousers for most of it I'm not surprised he suffered! He did eventually put on a thin jumper but I bet he wasn't wearing a vest!

As a demonstration it was very interesting to see just how cold your house has to be before your body suffers so I'm playing devils advocate here by asking the question, was the experiment a viable experience on what most people in fuel poverty experience?

I have to say straight up, we are not in fuel poverty which is gauged on whether you spend more than 10% of your income on fuel to keep your house in a satisfactory condition, (and presumably you warm?) see here

That does not mean though that we can guarantee to stay out of fuel poverty. Despite changing electricity suppliers, we have gained very little from a monetary point of view as year on year, the costs go up and less heating has to be used to compensate!

If I remember correctly, last winter our thermostat was set to just 14C. Heating was on for around 45 minutes in the morning to take the chill off the whole house. A similar burst was usually needed mid afternoon. Late afternoon the wood burner was lit. Oil lasted twice as long, our annual electricity bill was around the £350 mark, our water savings also fell due to judicious use of all water in the house.

Despite cold mornings recently we still haven't set the heating to automatic. We get up, put on dressing gown or jumper (whatever is to hand), turn the heating on as we prepare hot porridge and tea. We let the thermostat turn itself off twice then switch the heating off.

We both wear as many clothes as needed to keep us warm. Our hands do get cold and so we don fingerless gloves. Having watched the programme though and realising that DB may now be subject to these changes in his body (although to be honest, his BP and pulse rarely vary and we take them often enough to know), we may up it to 16C or even 18C should we have a really cold winter. We have budgeted for this increase and realise we are lucky to be able to do so.

Read Frugal Queen's blog entry for today where she gives tips on how to keep you and your house warm. Begin your day right, dress well, have a hot breakfast, hot soup for lunch, hot drinks throughout the day, a hot meal (soup again if necessary - don't know how to make soup, loads of stuff on-line), get into a warm bed wearing whatever you need to keep warm and you will get through.

We don't have an electric blanket as I find them uncomfortable. DB warms a microwave bag for his feet, I give my bit a quick blast with the hair dryer for less than a minute and jump in!




15 comments:

  1. We do not have central heating only electric heaters and we all know how expensive they can be , allso the last couple of years even though we have a woodburner the price of wood has risen so much that we cannot afford to buy it . Quite often I have a shawl on my shoulders and a blanket on my legs and if I am lucky a dog or cat as a furry hot water bottle .

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    1. I suppose wood prices vary around the country, here it is between £65 and £75 per cubic metre. Our neighbour scours the area constantly for fallen down branches, large twigs, pallets, anything he can get hold of to keep his heating bills down. Although a great faff to create, free logs can be made during the summer out of paper. Another neighbour only has a wood burner to heat his house, he too has to find wood. We don't know how long he could keep it up, as he is getting older. It is true though that heaters are expensive. As children it was normal to be cold except in the front room, scape ice off the inside of windows in winter.

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    2. Oh, forgot to say, furry animals make the best heaters don't they!

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  2. I was bemused as to why the bloke in the experiment didn't use the blanket which was over the chair, or get into bed to keep warm - I do both of those things. I was also surprised to see that the woman who had had 5 heart attacks was wearing thin leggings, no socks and a sleeveless top - no wonder she was cold! Words fail me about the people who were spending 2k per year on energy bills. I'm currently wearing jogging bottoms, thermal vest, long sleeved t-shirt, a cashmere jumper, 2 pairs of socks and slippers (all secondhand except the thermal vest and socks). Last night I donned gloves to warm my hands up enough so that I could knit. There are times when I wonder how the human race has survived considering what the requirements are these days. I didn't live in a house with central heating until I was 27; ice on the inside of the windows was normal, wearing layers was normal, snuggling up under a blanket on the sofa was normal, wearing socks and layers in bed was normal. We haven't had ice on the inside of the windows for a while, but we still wear layers and wrap up in blankets, we go to bed to keep warm, we use hot water bottles. I still haven't used any form of heating as I really haven't felt the need yet. Maybe we are acclimatised to lower temperatures- I certainly feel too hot in shops and the library and I'm sweltering at my Mum's house!

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    1. I found the whole thing a bit odd, people seem to moan but want to dress indoors in winter as though it is still summer. Shops drive me mad in winter, heat blasting, door open etc.

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  3. Interesting experiment however he knew when his situation was going to end when people in fuel poverty will know this is their lot for ever.

    I love the warming the bed up with the hairdryer.......genius!

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    1. Fuel poverty might not necessarily be forever, circumstances do change for some hopefully:-)
      I've heated the bed up like that for years. Yes, anywhere except out of the warm zone is cold but after a while, I get too hot and move into the cooler zone!

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  4. When I was a child, we only had one open fire in the sitting room in the evening and it was freezing everywhere else. Mum used to iron the bed to warm it up when it was really cold.

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    1. I have done that before but can't now due to the topping on my mattress.

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  5. Years ago it was the norm to wear several layers of clothing all throughout the winter months. Just because there is central heating in my home I have not changed that habit. The heating had not been on yet so far, and I hope to keep it off as much as possible. Too much central heating dries the air too much and makes breathing difficult if you have asthma, like me.

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    1. Some places we go are just too warm to be comfortable. Our front room is North facing and feels cold quicker than anywhere else.

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  6. I missed the programme so can't really comment on it. We dont have the heating on timer yet, we just give a quick blast when we are too cold, otherwise its wrap up and get a hot water bottle and plenty hot drinks, Im even having my daily water, hot!
    We were shopping the other day and I was amazed how many shops had heating blasting out and the doors open!!

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    1. Annoying isn't it and such a waste of precious resources!

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  7. I didn't see the programme either but do remember the very cold winters as a child. No heating just a coal fire in the front room and remember having to scrape the ice off the insides of the windows. We've been quite fortunate this Autumn in the fact that it's been quite mild. However I do feel the cold and no amount of layers in the winter seems to do it for me. Rugs and hot water bottles help but at the end of the day it's central heating for us when it's really cold.

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    1. Some nights we light the wood burner but let it die down after a couple of lies have warmed the room.

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