With perfect timing, just as the temperature starts to dip, gas suppliers are sending out demands for bigger payments to cover a hike in fuel costs of around 15 per cent. The issue of rising energy costs is one that won’t go away, but there are ways to stay warm and cosy without having to crank up the heating or spend a fortune.
INSULATE LETTERBOXES, CAT FLAPS AND KEYHOLES:
A lot of heat escapes through holes we have made ourselves in front and back doors, so cover up or replace with insulating versions (ecoflap.co.uk). Brass escutcheons reduce draughts but still let out a lot of heat, so make little felt covers for them.
Front and back doors often have thin plywood decorative panels just a few millimetres thick, no barrier to the cold. It’s an easy weekend job to fill in those heat-wasting panels, from the inside at least. We filled the large decorative depression in the lower half of our back door with some sheep’s wool insulation and “space blanket” left over from another project, then covered it with tongue-and-groove panelling – while our haybox was cooking dinner. Most satisfactory.
USE YOUR FIREPLACE
Most homes in Britain have a fireplace, although many are redundant, boarded up or purely decorative. With new technology meaning super-efficient burning of wood, gases and soot, the latest generation of wood-burning stoves can achieve a nearly 90 per cent efficiency (meaning they extract nearly all the energy the wood contains). This compares to older wood burners with 50-70 per cent efficiency and open fireplaces with less than 10 per cent efficiency. The result is far less ash to empty – about a pint for every 100kg of wood burned – and a pile of logs will last far longer than before.
Trimming any pruning offcuts to finger-thick lengths of kindling is one of the most satisfying of autumn jobs. Nick Marshall, who campaigns for wood fuel to be a greater part of Britain’s energy mix (woodfuelscotland.org.uk), says people can find ample kindling in urban streets: “Many packaging companies leave wood pallets outside, and are often grateful for people to take them rather than have to send them to landfill.” Just make sure the wood hasn’t been painted or treated. Burley does a 90 per cent efficient stove, which fits into a 16in fireplace void, and at £650, it won’t break the bank (burley.co.uk).
By The Telegraph