5 Strange Ways Your Ancestors Saved Fuel During Winter
Our first home was built in 1907 and boasted drafty windows and a minimal amount of insulation. Before our first winter came to an end, we knew changes had to be made if we were to survive in any amount of comfort. Staying warm at the expense of draining our savings account was not an option. And although we have since moved on to a well-insulated home, we still employ many of the fuel-saving practices we learned many years ago.
Our ancestors knew how to conserve energy. Whether it was using nature’s colder temperatures for food storage or keeping the house warm without turning the thermostat up a single degree, they utilized ordinary objects to conserve fuel.
Below are some time-tested methods to put into practice this winter.
1. Window coverings
Windows are points of entry for cold air, and although new windows are certainly more effective, they still cool the room. Foam tapes, clear films and other products abound at big box home improvement centers, but these are unnecessary and may in fact cause damage to your home. Foam tapes are often difficult to remove completely, damaging the finish of the casement and sill.
Clear films have been known to cause cracked window panes, particularly on south-facing windows. Years ago, homeowners used quilted window coverings to block drafts, raising the temperature of a room by several degrees. In addition to windows, glass patio doors also can be covered with an insulated curtain to reduce the amount of heat lost.
2. Straw bales
Using straw bales around the foundation of your home may not increase its’ curb appeal, but it will help to keep your fuel costs down by adding an extra layer of protection against cold winter winds. Place bales where they can absorb the greatest impact from winter’s worst weather. The bales also may help to prevent heat loss. Straw bales may later be used as livestock bedding, mulched for compost or used elsewhere on the homestead, provided it is dry, and mold- and mildew-free.
We are not talking about the commercial humidifiers that release moisture in the air, but rather, the strategic use of space on an indoor burner. Cast iron kettles filled with water will release moisture in the air when safely situated on a fuel-burning stove. Even if you do not have an indoor wood burner or corn burner, you can utilize other appliances as humidifiers.
For example, once you’re finished using your kitchen oven, place a dish of water in it while leaving the door ajar. As the oven cools down, it will heat the water enough to release moisture into the air. Indoor air that has the proper level of humidity feels warmer.
4. Cover bare floors
Bare floors keep a room from retaining heat and contribute to an overall chilly feeling. Using area rugs to cover wood or tiled floors will not only keep your feet warmer, but also will raise the ambient temperature by a few degrees. Rugs can, of course, be purchased, but old quilts, toweling, and scraps tied into rag rugs work just as well.
5. Door rolls
From a unique design that matches your interior to the thrift store quilt, a roll of material stopping drafts from entering your home is essential to any fuel-saving plan. Scrap material can be fashioned into a tube that can be filled with numerous things to block cold winter air. Fill the tube with densely packed material. Rice or sand are both common options, but materials such as recycled quilt batting or scraps of denim are also very effective.
Do you know of other time-tested ways to keep the house warm? Share your tips in the section below: