How to stay warm when your boiler’s broken
It’s a fact of life that when there’s a cold spell, that’s when you work your boiler hardest and, consequently, that’s when it’s most likely to break down. If it does break down, then of course you need to get a professional heating engineer out as quickly as possible to fix it, especially if your household includes older people who may feel the cold more.
How can you keep as warm as possible while waiting for the boiler to be repaired? Here are some of the most effective ways.
1. Add extra layers of clothing
Wearing a number of thin layers can be more effective at keeping warm than simply having on thick woolly jumper. Why? Because the different layers trap layers of air between them, and the air acts as an effective insulator, helping to keep your body heat in. You lose a lot of heat through your head and your hands, so don’t be self conscious about wearing a hat and gloves indoors in this situation – you may be surprised at how much difference it makes!
2. Take the same approach to your bedsheets
If you have a thinner summer duvet and a thicker winter one, then take the same layering approach and use both – or add extra bedsheets or whatever you’ve got to add those layers.
Obviously, if you have a heated electric blanket, that will be a benefit as well, but don’t leave it on overnight unless it includes the special thermostatic control for safe extended usage. And don’t, just because of the emergency, dig out old electric blankets more than ten years old – they may not be safe to use.
3. Use secondary heaters to heat just one room
If you have a working fireplace, then of course you can get some wood or coal and light a fire. Generally, you’ll probably be thinking about electric heaters. These are the most expensive forms of heating you can run, so you will want to restrict them to one of your smaller rooms.
Not all electric heaters are the same. Portable fan heaters are the cheapest to buy, and will heat a room relatively quickly. These cost quite a bit to operate, and the room will cool pretty quickly once they’re switched off. Alternatively, oil filled electric radiators will take longer to heat up the room, but are more economical and will keep the room warmer for longer once they’re switched off.
Heat the smallest room it is comfortable to be in, and keep the doors closed. Use a draft excluder under the door for that room to make the heating as effective as possible.
4. Keep curtains closed, especially at night
Windows will be one of the routes for heat to leave the house most quickly. Good, thick curtains make a difference – once again because they trap a layer of air, as well as being good insulators in their own right.
If, however, it’s sunny outside then open curtains for as long as the sun is shining through those windows. This will make the most of the passive heating effect. Just remember to close them again once it’s no longer shining.
5. Use heated objects to keep you warm
The obvious ones are hot water bottles. You will be able to boil water in the kettle and use for hot water bottles, as well as for a bowl of hot water (or even a bath, if you have the patience) for cleaning. Just remember to mix the recently boiled water with cold if you’re using it for washing so you don’t scald yourself.
Some people use other heated objects. You can make a homemade heat pack by microwaving rice in a clean sock. This comes from the health practice some people follow of microwaving wheat and lavender packs in the belief it is good for certain ailments. The grain holds and radiates the heat. If you have a microwave, it’s another possible resource on hand.
6. Eat hot food
It sounds obvious, and if your house is cold it probably wouldn’t have occurred to you anyway that this was the time to reach for the salads. But even just the act of eating can help – digestion creates heat as it creates energy. But a hot bowl of warming soup will certainly cheer you up, and a mug of tea or coffee will help warm your hands up as well.
7. Stay active
Moving around helps to generate heat. So maybe now’s the time to do a few of those jobs you’ve been meaning to do – anything that involves just a bit of effort will help generate body heat, and that will work with your multiple layers to keep you quite toasty!
But, most of all, don’t delay in getting the boiler fixed.
For some people with health conditions or more elderly people, having no boiler can be harmful to health. If you’re in that situation, make sure you inform your engineer so they can respond as quickly as possible to help your situation
Of course, it’s worth always remembering that you will be more likely to avoid problems like this if you get your boiler serviced regularly each summer. A bit of prevention will always be better than the cure!