Keeping warm in an old house may be a no-brainer for some. Why not just turn up the thermostat?
For me, I prefer to save energy and the environment and money to use for something more fun.
Today we are spoiled with the ease of automatic thermostats and comfortable climate controlled rooms.
As recent as the early 1900’s depending on where you lived, only the well-to-do families had central heat.
My grandparents would say how nice and warm the kitchen was because that’s where they had their stove.
Their coal stove was the only source of heat in a 2000 square foot home until 1938!
Today we have the epidemic of the window replacement insanity many homeowners fall for to save heat and keep warm. We now know that window replacement is just a money making scam. The home insulation craze has benefits but there is so much confusion about what is good today and what will be bad tomorrow. Insulation can allow moisture to ruin an old house and now we find that home insulation is hazardous to our health .
Back to Basics
I’m tired of being marketed to when the real reason for these insulating products is to make someone rich. It seems there are always buts and ifs later.
Keeping warm in an old house can be accomplished by going back to basics. Try to experience old house living as experienced years ago.
Aren’t you bored with hearing the typical suggestions like sealing up windows, etc. What about some of the not so common ways which were so common years ago? Here are some of our suggestions. We hope to hear yours too!
Decorate with heavy curtains – black lined are best.
Portieres have been used to keep drafts out and heat in from Medevil times through the 1940’s. Read my article on Portieres here.
Do you have working shutters? Solid panel shutters – even closed operable louvers will help stop the cold from entering during the night.
A dog will keep you warm. While the body temperature of a human clocks in at a cool 98.6 F, your dog’s body temperature should always range between 99.5 and 102.5 F.
Use your oven – bake something.
Use your stove. Make some homemade soup. Soup will also add humidity to a house which will make you feel warmer. Aside from making soup, I recommend eating it too.
Flannel sheets are a must. In additional to blankets, I use my great-grandmothers pierzyna.
A pierzyna is a Polish word for a feather comforter.
Unlike today’s comforters which are quilted or ribbed to keep the feathers evenly in place, the pierzyna is like one large heavy pillow.
There is no stitching so the feathers can flop around from side to side. It is about 6 inches thick.
Yes, this is nice and warm but I also have several more woolen blankets making the coverings so heavy I can hardly move. But boy is it cozy!
Years ago bed warmers were used to warm the sheets.
Hot coals were put in the pan and the warmer was moved over the bed to warm it up.
I have a ceramic foot warmer I use in bed from around 1912. Hot water is poured into it and sealed up then placed under the covers at the foot of the bed.
My favorite way of keeping the bed warm at night is with a soapstone brick. I used to use a regular brick which works good but soapstone holds the heat longest.
I would place the brick inside the door of my 1942 Sunbeam Octopus furnace and let the furnace heat it up for a few minutes.
I would remove it and wrap it in a towel and place it under my bed covers at the foot of my bed.
I now heat it on my stove for 4-5 minutes at medium heat. The brick holds its heat till morning!
Imagine flannel sheets with heavy bed coverings (about 10 inches) and a nice warm brick for your feet. Typing this now, I look forward to going to bed to experience it again!
Although this article is about keeping warm in an old house I just want to mention a side note.
Travelers riding in a horse drawn wagon would put manure on the floor of the wagon and cover their legs with a blanket. The warmth from the manure would keep your feet and legs warm. Call me strange but I think soapstone is better.
We would love to hear your ideas of keeping warm in an old house – or new house.
Please comment below.