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12 Ways to Survive Winter Without Central Heating

12 Ways to Survive Winter without Central heating

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know we've had absolutely zero form of heating in this house for the last two winters. When we viewed this house (and read the selling form) we were overjoyed that it had a boiler and radiators - our previous home had zilch, just old electric storage heaters that cost an absolute bomb - so much that we never used them for three whole years. But of course, as we got so carried away with the beauty of this home, we never actually looked for the boiler. Surely seeing radiators in a property is enough?

Umm.. No. Turns out the boiler in this property was a very old back-boiler (from the 60/70s!) that resembled a gas fire in the fireplace. I'd never even heard of one of these things before - But, they're so much NOT energy-efficient that they're off the grid (I'm talking literally!) and they're renowned for producing carbon monoxide too. In short, they cost a flaming arm and a leg to run and lose half the heat up the chimney, so we never ever used it. And we've now removed it.

Even though we have some radiators (just four in our 4-storey house!) swapping to a new boiler system is going to cost us the same as a whole new installation - between £3000-£4000. Sadly we don't have that kind of money and I'd prefer to put our money towards things that will improve our daily living situation (new kitchen, bathroom) rather than something we will only benefit from in the winter. We've lived for five years without heating already, it's not ideal, it's not the modern-day thing to do, BUT we make do with our situations. 

Being young and having health on our side means this really isn't a huge problem. It's great for saving money and by changing just a few things in the home, it doesn't have to be super uncomfortable and deathly chilly either. 

So I thought I would compile a list of changes you can make (most of which we have done and do use), which can help you to survive the winter without central heating....


1. Opt for Plug-In Energy Saving Electric Radiators

Let me be sharply clear - NOT storage heaters. No, no, no. Storage heaters were invented by the devil and serve absolutely no purpose other than taking all your money from you and delivering nothing in return. Whilst you can get modern storage heaters that I hear great things about, these will set you back a few hundreds per radiator. I mean, surely you'd be installing gas central heating if you had that kind of money, right?!? No - not those.

I'm talking plug-in radiators or radiators that can be hard-wired into your existing socket circuit. They don't have to break the bank - prices start at £100 per radiator and they don't cost a fortune to run either. With quick heat up times and clever thermostatic control, they're not constantly running which means they're energy saving and money saving too. You can select which radiators you'd like on, so no need to have all of them on at once, (unlike central heating) and if you can't afford lots of radiators - even having just the one or two can make ALL the difference. Believe me.

I've done a couple of posts on this topic before - if you're looking specifically for a stylish design electric radiator, check this post for my top picks for designer-look radiators. (not all of these radiators are necessarily cheap to run!)

But for affordability and cheap to run - I recommend checking out Best Electric Radiators and My Electric Radiators. Both are cheap to buy, plug straight in and have actual running costs on-line to view. We hope to test a couple of different electric radiators this winter (sneak peak at one below!).



2. Dry Clothes with a Heated Airer

Not being able to keep warm through winter is one thing - but have you ever experienced the troubles DRYING clothes through winter without heating? Oh I have. It takes about a week and by the end - your clothes have taken so long to dry they just smell dank instead, leaving you having to re-wash them and start the whole cycle again. It's a real problem.

Thankfully at my moment in need, Lakeland started selling heated clothes airers! It's probably the single most life changing purchase I made that year. Clothes actually dry! Sometimes as quickly as overnight too. It's sooo cheap to run, less than 4p an hour and it also helps to heat up your room too. I literally cannot recommend this product enough! I think they're pretty affordable, with starting prices at around £80. But they can be found second-hand on eBay & Gumtree for a whole lot less if you're on a tight budget. Go buy. Now! (you'll thank me later)

PS - I've done a review of the heated airer, which you can check out here.


3. Use Electric Blankets & Heated Throws

Oh electric blankets - I remember growing up with these! Back in the day, insulation wasn't totally common, single glazing was still very much in existence and houses suffered. Pre-heating the bed Electric blankets will help you get to sleep without shivering for hours. Prices for electric blankets are super cheap, with a decent brand costing around £20 for a double.

But did you know heated throws and cushions exist too? Oh yes they do! They cost less than 1p for an entire night and their reviews are pretty applauding. Imagine sitting in front of the TV with one of these! Styles are limited and they're not all cheap and I don't have one because of it... But I wish wish wish I did! Maybe this year will be the investment? Cheaper models are priced at £40 with more pretty-looking throws at prices upwards of £100. Cushions are obviously cheaper, and Lakeland have the best selection in my opinion, but keep your eyes peeled on QVC too! Do you have one? Should I take the plunge? Obviously regular non-heated throws are hugely beneficial too ;)



4. A Winter Duvet is a Must

Ditch the 4.5tog duvet and crack out the 13.5tog. I know lots of people have one duvet for all year round - and it makes perfect sense, particularly when you have little storage. BUT, when you don't have central heating and especially if you don't have an electric blanket for the bed - this really is a worthwhile buy! Prices obviously vary, but they can cost as little as just £20 for a double. Only problem is, you won't want to get out of bed in the morning. Soz about that.



5. Add Fire!

This can be an open fire, a gas fire or even a log burner. I know these options aren't all that cheap but they may well be worth the investment if you don't intend on having central heating ever installed. And they still cost a damn sight cheaper! The gas fire in our old house really kept us going through winter and this year we've finally made the investment for a log burner in our now home!

Heating rooms like bathrooms, spare bedrooms and hallways really aren't important to us, but the main living space is really where it's worth investing on heat. Having one well heated room where you spend most of your time, makes living without central heating a whole lot easier. Each type of fire has its own varying amounts of efficiency but log burners are particularly great at heating rooms fast and pushing that heat to other rooms too. They're not cheap but you can save money doing a lot (or even all!) of the work yourselves.

You can read all about what we did ourselves to save money here.... And you can read all about the best budget stove options here too.



6. Draught-Proof the Home

Even if you have central heating, you're wasting no amount of money and heat if your home isn't draught-proofed. Options for draught-proofing are so inexpensive! It's not all about having a new front door fitted or blaming your 90s windows! Honestly, there's so many simple solutions that can make a HUGE difference. Things like using a fabric draught excluder with doors, making sure air vents having closing mechanisms for when not in use, and installing draught-ex (a little rubber kind of rope) in-between any exposed floorboards can all make a huge huge difference. Draught-ex is by far my best tip for draught-proofing solutions. We used it in our old house and we've used it in this house and it really does work! I've done a post on this topic before, which you can read here.



7. Insulate!

If you haven't got insulation in your attic, get some pronto! Insulation can be installed DIY style and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you have any single skin walls, it might be worth thinking about fitting some insulating plasterboard too, if you're able to. Otherwise things like double layered curtains around windows and doors can even really help. If you have single-glazed windows (oh man, I feel for you!!) then I recommend using Window Film. It completely prevents condensation and acts like a kind of secondary glazing. It's freaking ugly, but we noticed a huge difference using this in our old house. And packs are only about a fiver!


8. Choose Carpets & Rugs Over Solid Floors

Carpets are a heck of a lot warmer than other flooring materials and they provide good thermal insulation too! If you can, pick carpets. If you can't - there's always rugs, even if you only use them during the winter months. Both of these will heat up a lot quicker and help keep your room warmer for longer. There is even a product for heating rugs (the RugBuddy) but it's not widely available, and its product name isn't exactly doing it any favours in my opinion. It's effectiveness may still be a little questionable at the moment - but perhaps one to consider one day?



9. Install Electric Underfloor Heating

If you can't settle for carpet, there's always underfloor heating instead. Electric underfloor heating claims to heat rooms more effectively than radiators and of course the thermostatic control means it doesn't have to be powered constantly either. Underfloor heating can be used under most floor surfaces - but it's always best to check with your flooring supplier and the underfloor heating supplier first! It's definitely not cheap to install and requires lifting up old flooring & re-fitting (or buying new!) - but you can do the bulk of the work yourself if you feel up to it. For budget underfloor heating, I recommend checking out eBay!


10. Layer-Up

This is a pretty obvious one but if you're hoping for a heated house where you can prance around in your favourite tee and short combo PJs, think again. You need to invest in good thick hoodies and toasty fleece PJs. Plain thermal t-shirts are also great and slippers or slipper-socks are a must have too! Maybe treat yourself to a nice dressing gown as well. Basically - go shopping!



11. Go Old-School with a Hot Water Bottle

Hot water bottles nowadays aren't even necessarily made with water. There's microwaveable stuffed bears and hand pads and ear warmers, you name it. They're not just for children, but they are a great way to add just a little bit of extra heat to your body where-ever you need it. My feet tend to get cold the most so I always use a hot water bottle on my feet whenever I'm sat around working or watching TV.

Other old school tips are to drink plenty of hot drinks and opt for warm meals like soup at lunchtimes. 


12. & Finally... Don't forget the Pets too!

My final tip isn't one for yourself - but for any pets. If you have one, you're already winning as you can use their heat to keep you warm and vice-versa. But, don't forget that they feel the cold too, especially when left alone and if they haven't got thick fur. There are heated mats and self heated beds our there for pets which are really quite cheap. So if you are worried about having pets in a cold house, I do recommend these products too.


So there's my top tips! I know they're not all super affordable - believe me, we don't have all of them! But hopefully at least some of these points will be useful for you, if you too are stuck in a house without central heating, or just don't want to (or even can't!) pay the extortionate costs.

Let me know if you don't have central heating and if you have any tips to share too?!

1 comment

  1. And it's a simple one, but keeping windows closed is a biggy. If you need to open kitchen or bathroom windows when showering or cooking then that's ok, but it's important to close them again as soon as possible afterwards. I've also had great success with thermal door curtains in addition to draught excluders for keeping the heat in around doors.

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