I’ve told you before that my house is small, but did I ever mention that it’s cold? It’s really flipping cold and I’ve never really worked out why or where the cold comes from. But come it does. I swear a breeze blows through my house.
I grew up in a very warm house. Hot, in fact. It was new, well-insulated and the central heating was always on. High. And I loved it. I was always sat with my back against the radiator, getting even warmer.
After that, student and shared houses with poor insulation, draughty windows and housemates too tight to put the heating on were a real shock to the system. So I just wore more clothes. A lot more clothes. I put tights on under my trousers in September and didn’t take them off again until April.
But I’m not a student now and I’m not tight. But I AM still cold. Our first two ‘grown-up’ houses were new, with lovely insulation and lovely double glazing. And then we moved here. Opinions among my elderly neighbours on when the house was built differ, but it was not in prehistoric times. It was sometime between the late 1950s and mid-1960s.
The day we moved in, I kept my coat on all day. I put the cold down to the fact that no-one had lived here for a year and that it was December and we’d had all the doors open all day. But, to be honest, shutting the door didn’t make an awful lot of difference.
That first winter, we had the heating on low 24/7 – it would have been suicide to do anything else. During the second winter, we got cavity wall insulation. That at least meant the heating could go off at night, but it didn’t improve things much.
We have replaced some of the windows, but still no difference. That breeze keeps blowing.
When it’s about 12, maybe 14, degrees outside, I go out and I am surprised at how warm it is. Because, yes, it is warmer outside than in.
As soon as the temperature drops below freezing, ice forms on the inside of my bedroom window. It’s there as I write this now – in the evening with the heating still on. In case you’re wondering what that weird picture is – that’s the ice inside my window.
It is so cold I can’t bear to get undressed for a shower, I can’t bear to wash my hands – all that cold water – and I HATE getting into bed. My body touching that ice cold sheet – ugh! I wear pyjamas, but they ride up and parts of my skin touch that horrible sheet. It makes me shiver thinking about it. A onesie seemed like the perfect solution. It was certainly better getting into bed, but I had failed to consider going to the toilet in the middle of the night. OH. MY. GOD. Sitting basically naked on a toilet seat in a room with ice inside the windows. Not recommended.
Despite all of this, I choose to suffer rather than excessively use the central heating. Too much central heating is a waste of money, bad for the environment and a great way for germs to breed. (We don’t get ill much – coincidence? I wonder…)
The heating is on when we get up and from teatime until the kids’ bedtime. The thermostat is set to 20 – we don’t NEED it any higher. We have jumpers. Two, if necessary.
By late afternoon I am desperate to cave in and switch it on. My forehead, bizarrely, is usually the part of me that is coldest. Any gaps between the top of my jeans and my Tshirts get so cold they are painful, so I make sure there aren’t any.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband was working at home. At about 11am he shouted to me ‘I don’t think the heating’s on’. Of course it’s not on! What does he expect? Does he really want me to heat up a whole house just to keep one person warm? One person who is usually pretty active and keeps warm through the magic of movement and jumpers?
But now the sensationalist weather-obsessed press are predicting the coldest February for 20 years and temperatures down to -11. Can I cope with any more cold?
Strangely, I can cope with it far better than the heat I used to love so much in my childhood home.