With the news full of energy price rises and cold weather in prospect, it’s important to do everything we can to keep our homes warm. But what can you do aside from turning up the thermostat? A solution that is bad for all our bank balances as well as the environment. Fortunately, the Linwood team has a whole host of practical solutions to share, to aid energy saving and save money. From rearranging your rooms to keeping out draughts, explore our seven ways to stay warm this winter season, without raising your heating bills…
Upgrade your window coverings and treatments
Curtains and blinds can do heroic work in keeping cold air out and warm air in, providing you have the right ones. Full-length curtains in a thick and luxurious fabric (think velvet or wool felt curtains) will already do a good job of stopping heat escaping, particularly if they are well lined with a blackout fabric. A great example is the stylised floral Tanglewood printed velvet (shown in Rose Lemon colourway), which is suitable for use as both curtains and blinds. If your current window dressings aren’t ticking any of these boxes, though, it’s time to think about an upgrade.
Thermal curtains and blinds help keep your house warm in winter by preventing cold air from finding its way in and reflecting back the warmth of the room. Even better, you don’t need to change them when the weather warms up (so will save money twice), as they also block the heat of summer, keeping hot air out. Roman blinds, again in a heavier fabric, will offer better insulation than slatted designs because there are no gaps. Roller blinds do a similar job, though it’s particularly important to ensure they’re fitted seamlessly to prevent heat escaping round the edges. Whichever type you choose, opt for made-to-measure window treatments if you can, to guarantee the best coverage and best defence against draughts. Get further expert advice with the Linwood guide to choosing the right curtains.
Embrace warm materials: layer wool and leather
There’s nothing like cosying up on your sofa in front of a favourite film surrounded by sumptuous cushions and throws. It also means you don’t need to keep your house warm to the same degree, as you’re creating your own central heating under that blanket! In addition, choosing a wool upholstery fabric for your armchairs and sofa will give you warmth from the moment you sit down. Linwood’s Samprey check (from the Ollaberry/Roxburgh collection) is made from 100% Shetland wool and in this in Balfour colourway it feels instantly toasty. For a similar effect consider our Lana fabric, a soft Italian upholstery fabric made from recycled wool, in Orange.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, and not for nothing have people been using draught excluders to keep the house warm for generations. Even in the best-insulated homes, if there is a gap under the door, cold air will find its way through it. There’s no reason why you can’t add a bit of style with this practical item, though, as our Kami draught excluder in the Seagreen colourway shows. Made from our best-selling Omega velvet, it features a sturdy zip, washable cover and generous hollow fibre pad. Use under the front door, back door, and any door where cold air seems to be getting in.
Once you’ve stopped the warmth escaping, there’s a surprising way to keep the room feeling cosy: ceiling fans. If you thought they were just for cooling down a space during the hot summer months, then think again. Hot air rises and gets trapped at the ceiling level, where it doesn’t benefit you sitting down below in your armchair. Ceiling fans will circulate that hot air back into the room, evenly distributing it and stopping you switching the heating back on when the room starts to feel cooler.
Move furniture away from windows
The first job, therefore, is to move furniture away from radiators. Don’t move seating so far away that you can’t benefit from the warmth, but ensure that the warm air can circulate and reach other parts of the space. Here, this beautiful sofa upholstered in Sienna bouclé fabric in the Fjord colourway is a focal point in itself, and isn’t blocking any radiators. Recreate this sumptuous combination of rich blue upholstery and walls in a heritage shade with Turquoise from Edward Bulmer.
Add rugs for extra warmth
We lose heat through our feet, as anyone who has walked on a cold kitchen floor first thing in the morning will tell you. So, as beautiful as hard floors are, adding rugs will help to keep both the house and your feet warm. Bright and cheerful colours will also help the space to feel cosy. Wool rugs are the best option, as the natural fibres trap heat and act as insulation against a cold floor. They stop cold air entering through the floor and help to maintain the room temperature for longer.
Thicker rugs not only feel more luxurious to walk on, they are also better insulators than thin rugs. You can also add a wool or memory foam rug pad under your existing rugs, just ensure they’re just smaller so they don’t show. Choose large rugs to cover the whole sitting area (as in this room showing a sofa upholstered in Miletto in Ocean), or simply place rugs where you walk and place your feet.
If you have radiant floor heating (underfloor heating), ensure the rugs you choose are natural materials with a backing that doesn’t trap and insulate heat between rug and floor. If heat builds under the rug, it can cause the wooden or laminate flooring below to warp. This isn’t a problem with tiled or natural stone floors, but in all instances, check with your installer. In addition, choose smaller rugs that allow the underfloor heating to heat up quickly and do its job effectively.
Snuggle up with soft furnishings
We sleep best in a cool bedroom, so there’s no need to keep your house warm overnight by leaving the heating on. Make sure the bed is toasty before you get in with an energy-saving electric blanket, which costs far less to run than the central heating, or even a hot water bottle. Also, think about the bedding; it’s far better to switch your duvet for one of a heavier weight, add a stylish woollen throw and surround yourself with sumptuous soft furnishings.
Start with the headboard, as snuggling up is a lot harder when you’re propped up against the wall or a wooden bedhead. Choose an upholstered headboard in a fabric you love, such as this Buttons linen in Pond colourway. Or if you long for something luxurious, go for a printed or plain rich velvet fabric, which is also a hardwearing choice and perfect for headboards. Team this with a host of luxurious cushions piled up so you can read in warmth and comfort. Once again, harness the power of natural materials with wool, cotton velvets and woven linen (for example, the Hopscotch print in Mustard seen here), and choose textured fabrics, as they feel warmer to the touch than smooth ones.
If you have an ensuite bathroom, a good tip is to benefit from the warmth generated by hot water and shower steam. Leave the bathroom door ajar during your shower – or open it just after you get out – and allow the steam to dissipate into the bedroom and beyond. All additional heat helps in winter time.
Block unused chimneys
An open fireplace provides a very attractive focal point for the room, particularly when a roaring fire is burning. But heat escapes up the chimney, just as cold air will find its way in, which is a huge hindrance when you’re trying to keep your house warm. If you want to use your fireplace again in the future, you can have a chimney damper installed or fit a draught guard, both of which will stop draughts coming down the chimney but can be opened or removed when you want to light a fire. Sealing the fireplace permanently is also an option but definitely not a DIY one. Make sure you employ a reputable professional – you can search for one on the Federation of Master Builders website.
Aesthetically, the benefit of an unused fireplace is that you can use it for house plants, to create a floral display or for favourite ceramicware. There’s also no worry about placing seating right in front of it, as the draughts have now been eliminated. A case in point is this ottoman, which has been beautifully upholstered in One Thousand and One velvet in Hot Ticket colourway. The warm shades, inspired by a traditional carpet design, and the soft texture are doubly inviting. For more winning ways with velvet, check out the Linwood guide to using velvet in your home.
How can I make my house feel warmer in the cold? Closing the curtains at night when the temperature drops will obviously help keep the cold weather out, but make sure you leave them open until dusk. Even weak winter sunshine will warm the room, so benefit from it as long as it lasts. A curtain over the front door can also make a big difference in keeping out the draughts. In addition, it will trap the cold air when anyone is coming in until the door is closed again. Meanwhile, make sure you keep internal doors shut. This is obviously important in rooms you’re in, as it will keep in the warmth, but also shut the doors on rooms that aren’t used as much and that you might not be heating all of the time.
What’s the cheapest way to heat your home in the winter? With the relative price of gas and electricity, it is overall cheaper to use your gas central heating rather than supplementing it with portable electric heaters (even though they are cheap to buy). But looking at how you use your heating and your habits can be helpful. For example, turning your thermostat down by just 1ºC can save around 10% on your heating bills. Also, ensure that all your radiators are working efficiently by bleeding them to remove air pockets, and install thermostatic valves on each on, so you can turn down those that aren’t in use all the time. Finally, if you want an electric heater, check out infrared heating panels. Relatively new to the market, these panels work by heating objects in the room (such as the walls and floor) rather than the air. There are cost implications: they run on electricity and the initial outlay will be more than a portable heater but because of the way they heat they’re very efficient.