Preparing for autumn

As part of our house renovations we were keen to weather-proof the cottage in preparation for autumn and winter. Whilst the front of the cottage faces south and so gets the sun most of the day, the gable end bears the brunt of all the wind and rain that comes down the valley. As a result, the single glazed, wooden windows on that end were completely rotten through. There was a little insulation in the roof but not much. Our thick stone walls keep the cottage cool during the hotter months, but seem to suck up and radiate the cold during winter. Having been so cold this winter that a balaclava in bed started to look like a tempting option, we knew we had to take steps to make sure the house was a warm and cosy as possible.

Heating pre-August – the wood burning stove
Heating pre-August – the Rayburn

As I blogged before, all the windows needed replacing. Whilst the prevailing vernacular in Wales seems to be for PVC windows (I can say that, I’m from here – okay?) it wasn’t passing my threshold so we choose timber. Painted. I know – that wind and rain that comes down the valley? I’ve made peace with the maintenance and upkeep that’ll be required. Small price versus the horrors of PVC.  On top of the windows we have solid shutters that are in the process of being made at the moment. In addition to removing the decision making overload that ‘dressing’ every single window (Blinds? What style? Curtains? Lining? Interlining? Pleat top? Pencil pleat?) would have brought, the shutters will also provide another layer of insulation when closed.

New window, not yet finished…

I’ll discuss our central heating system another time as it transpires a plant room has had to be built (for plant room read: shed on back of house) to contain the upgrades to the water supply required to power the heating. It’s all quite technical and likely of very little interest to those not directly benefitting from the heat it’ll provide, so I’ll just say – radiators! Radiators that turn off and on at the switch of a button! No more wrestling with the Rayburn and it’s many moods first thing in the morning, throughout the day, 3am at night…

A radiator, September

There is an exciting element to the central heating system though – because we’re not at the cottage all week we needed an ability to remotely control the heating to respond to changes in the weather and to ensure it was working as efficiently as possible. So, for example, I can leave the heating off all week to avoid heating an empty house, but ensure it’s warm for when I arrive on a Thursday night. Or if we get a sudden cold spell, I can either switch on the frost control setting or bump up the temperature a few degrees. After more research and internet time than is strictly healthy, I’ve gone for British Gas’s Hive system. Last weekend our plumber installed it, so I’m hoping for a bit of cold weather this weekend so I can try it out. Update to be provided, no doubt.

Finally, to make sure the heat we’re producing stays where it’s meant to, we’ve upgraded the amount of insulation in the roof. We now have 300mm sheeps’ wool lining the loft, like a giant cosy rug above our heads.

A room full of insulation



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