Getting ready for that Vague de Froid

As temperatures plummeted a few weeks ago, I busied myself with closing shutters, drawing curtains, blocking any draughts, and re-read Catharine's very useful blog:

We will be resident for the remainder of winter, and am just wondering what is the best method of preventing loss of heat (via windows)? The windows are double-glazed, and all but two have shutters. Internally, there are horizontal wooden slat blinds and curtains on each window. Do I close everything and either live in permanent darkness, or turn on all the lights and increase our EDF bill?

I had thought that the double glazing was an effective barrier against cold air entering via the windows, so hope someone has a definitive answer. Thanks.

Hi Celeste. Got email from Suzie and sent her some photos of Lagrasse which I think they can slot in to the video. The pics were taken by one of our students, Paul from Quebec, with some fancy camera that apparently does everything except have sex with you! Each jpeg was over 5 mb so the quality should be high enough. She wants a couple of studio shots of Henry with students and one of the two of us as well, so will have to persuade the lady who comes on Friday to pose for pics! Mind yourself, and good luck with, and best wishes for, a speedy recovery.

Thanks for that Celeste - I envy you the 25C on your terrasse, and that view. Fond memories of the morning we spent there with you. Will go and rummage for the fur knickers, so.

Hope you are improving, health wise, and hope to see you soon. Happy New Year to you and Rob. xxx

Burstow and Fog i thought they went together very well considering he seems to live in one

John, with EDF bills? One dare not. Anyway, they have power failures so often that even power saver bulbs get zapped too quickly, so no thank you.

Burstow and fog, the mind boggles ;-)

Brian lights on in rooms not used is normal, many years ago a friend of mine his daughter left home bought herself a house ,you can tell how long ago it was she got a mortgage but i diversify, on his first visit he went into every room switching on all the lights then the tv and any other electrical appliance he could find, she watched in amazment and asked what he was doing, thats what you have to do isnt it, well thats what you used to do in my house was his reply, closer to home when my son set up home with his girlfriend he rang a few days later i have just spent £75 in Asda and got nothing where does the money go i told him welcome to the real world looked up at the ceiling and mouthed thank you God.

Another day of thick freezing fog here thats 6 on the trot oh how i wish Mr Burstow would pay a visit but thats another topic

We never close our shutters. For one thing, a couple are barely hanging on to rusty hinges and are pretty old and decrepit anyway. We have put in double glazing and insulated after, thereby sealing round all the weak points where they are inserted. For the length of winter here in the SW it would be false economy to go for triple, so instead we did that. So far so good. There are nooks and crannies where, come what may, hurricanes howl in directly from the Arctic via an unbeknown route direct to our house. If it is an old house, it is as sure as anything could be that where beams sit on masonry there will be gaps, small but that act like air jets. Occasionally the blasted mice make their holes by tunnelling adjacent to beams. It is surprising how a hole you can barely get a finger into can generate gusts that all but blow you over occasionally. We are forever chasing these things, in goes the silicon and the plaster finish only to find that for lack of another way of doing it, one of the other places is generating a new gale. So time for silicon and plaster all over again. Three years and some now and we are gradually getting on top of it. No doubt the house has a mind of it own and will revenge our nerve for stealing the oxygen it has been receiving for pushing 300 years.

In fact, sitting here in my office with no electric heater on and near zero outside, I am waiting for the radiator to get its nice hot water from the stove I built up a bit before six. Once it starts to warm up it is really pleasant. It is also one of the rooms where there is still no double glazing because when this part of the house is re-roofed, we intend to change the windows. We only have one window facing N/NE which is the direction to watch out for and that is a tiny toilet window (the other post on loos for reference, too small for a wash basin) in our case, but the radiator keeps that toasty all day being the first one the heat arrives at.

We are used to visiting people and needing torches (although we don't, of course) to find a coffee cup. When they visit here they always remark on how light and bright it is. But then it is actually quite gloomy with the shutters open in our opinions. We have to have power saving lights everywhere because even if sun is streaming in and the light is almost blinding, OH and daughters all put on lights. All three fail to put them off when leaving the room. I often go on a tour of the house switching them off. Yesterday, for example, I found two on in OH's room when she was out, girls' room another two, two corridors with a light on in each and both loo and bathroom! Six lights with me the only person in the house using none of those parts of the house. If we had regular bulbs who knows what the bills would be like? If anybody remembers the Braveheart film, it illustrated Scots walking about with bare legs, no underwear and even stripping off to X with white clouds of breath from mouth and nose, that is rain (summer) or rain (winter, but colder). Well, fortunately I am like that. None of the female folk are at all, so we heat... and chase the hurricanes.

So, it is all very complicated and unless we have a small fortune to spend on a virtually hermetically sealed, ultra-modern new build with an independent pv or wind power generation system, my conclusion is that we live with it.

Shutters are a hard call - If you cut out the light, then things get a bit grim in doors, especially if there is a longer cold snap.

I keep the bedroom shutters closed on the first floor, but leave the shutters open on the landing so there is plenty of light on the stairwell.

Downstairs, I open all of them - once the light goes, they are closed of course!

Shutters closed permanently in north-facing rooms which also happen to be rooms we don't use a lot. Otherwise we close the shutters when the sun dips behind the surrounding hills and the temperature plummets. Couldn't live behind permanently closed shutters.

I had a friend who has since succumbed to the big C he ran a heating and insulating business in the uk always said double glazing was not as good as it was cracked up to be he swore by cavity wall insulation he did our house in the uk the difference was noticable straight away

We live 2000ft up in the black mountains it gets cold up here and my wife complains if the temperature drops below 25 our oil heating has broken down so its the wood burner or nothing but as its also a cooker we save on gas and electricity if i could just persuade the heat to go around the corners we would be able to heat the whole house its not practical to use ducting but as its only two rooms we rarely use anyway it doesnt cause any hardship the heat does tend to build up upstaires and its still warm in the morning which is so nice to get up to, after 5 days of fog varying only in can we see the bottom of the garden or cant we i'm begining to think the world doesnt exist anymore beyond our fences even the goats wont go up the field

ah yes - we're currently looking into triple glazed windows and U values. Darren's Christmas present (besides his smartphone) was a book on how to calculate heat loss/energy consumption for a house. I give exciting gifts me! Bet you're glad I wasn't your secret Santa!

Thanks John and Suz for the replies. I'm definitely showing my age, because I remember a loooong time ago when double glazing first appeared, the salesmen promised you would save a fortune on your heating bills because of little or no loss of heat through the windows. :-D

Your comment about the woodburner made me laugh. We didn't put ours on over the past 3 weeks as it was warm enough in the house without it. We have reversible climatisation which works well until the temp drops below zero then we put the woodburner on too. Perfect, but our bedroom does get toasty so we actually have a sheet in Winter and no heating is required in the bedroom as the heat from the woodburner comes up into the bedroom. Our house is well insulated too which helps and we close the shutters about 4.30 or lock down as we like to call it :)

The answer is to live in the dark Sheila, except on sunny (non windy) days but then you need to close up again by 4.30pm before the cold air gets in again. Most houses in our village don't open their shutters at all, too cold in Winter, too hot in Summer! One house we went in was so dark we could hardly see the people we were speaking to! I think you must get used to a lower level of light. We now have low watt eco lamps on permanently when we're there and we've gotten used to it. My mum on the other hand turns on all the overheads like Blackpool Illuminations which does our head in!

The guy across the road never seems to have his shutters open unless the sun is shining they must live like moles for days the rest of the hamlet appears normal though we never see anyone, old houses always are draughty we have a force 5 coming through on occassions but have never found where it comes from, insulation everywhere we can get it and the wood burner going 15 hours a day, some nights its so hot upstaires i have to throw the duvet off though the dining room and my little study is 5 degrees being an L shape house the hot air doesnt turn corners very well just the lounge, kitchen and upstairs