Peparing For Next Winter
(While It's Still Summer)
If you live in the UK, you've seen the cost of heating absolutely skyrocket. At the time of writing this article, it's currently April, and I'm looking at a lovely week ahead in the high teens. It's a little nippy, but manageable in the house, and after 4 years of living without central heating, I've gotten used to being a little cold. With this warmer weather it feels like there is a collective sense of relief that we can start turning the thermostat down, but the part that worries me is what happens once we reach the end of the summer. That is when it's all going to get very Dickensian.
Once the summer is over and yet more price hikes, inflation and economic wobbles kick in, then, that's when the real pain will start I think. So with that in mind, I'm taking all the steps I can now during the summer before energy prices (and the cost of everything else) goes up.
My focus on all of these things are supplies which use no electricity. They are basic and - at least for the moment - affordable compared to our energy bills. There are other things you can do to stay warm once it's actually cold, but today I'm focusing on supplies I want to gather before inflation kicks my arse.
We generate heat, so it only makes sense to trap as much of that heat as possible. With all of these I'm collecting supplies for myself and everyone in my household, so for my kids I'm getting a few different sizes for the next two to three years. That might sound like a little much, but what I buy now at today's prices also saves me time and a lot of money later.
You mainly loose heat in three places (provided you're not naked). Your feet, neck and head. Feet are the first ones we need to address.
• Socks: Over the summer I'm aiming to collect seven pairs of good quality socks for each person in the house. This allows everyone to not overuse one pair and wear them down. If you're really pushed to stretch the budget, then just two pairs will do, but make sure to change them as often as possible so they don't get worn out too fast. If you can, learn how to darn socks now before you need it. It's not hard, but there is a learning curve. If this is something you want to know more about, let me know. I have a whole article on simple darning, fixing and mending clothes ready to go.
Wool socks are the absolute pinnacle of warmth, but don't get too hung up on the material if it's too expensive. Provided it's not acrylic or polyester, anything like rayon, viscose or cotton will work just fine.
• Slippers: After socks you need to consider slippers or house shoes. It doesn't have to be an actual pair of slippers. Heck, even a pair of house sandals will work. Anything that keeps your soles off the floor will keep you warmer. A carpeted house makes this less of a problem, but my house has no carpets whatsoever. Believe me, in winter it get's cold! Socks and slippers are an absolute must if you have no carpets.
• Thermals: Thermal leggings, thermal vests, all the thermals. Merino is considered the cream of the crop as far as thermals go but, honestly, I find that they they get holes in them too quickly for the the pice tag. Unless you like darning (I don't) I just find them frustrating to maintain compared to synthetics. For that reason I just get synthetic fiber thermals. Three vests and two pairs of leggings per person is my aim for these.
•Snoods: While I love wraps, scarves, and big tent-sized pashminas, nothing beats a snood. It essentially a glorified neck sock, and it's the most non-fuss way to keep my neck warm. No readjusting it every 10 minutes because one side has fallen down. Just pull it over your head and forget about it. When it get's really cold I also wear one of these to bed and it makes a massive difference. I've tried merino ones, I've tied synthetic ones, I've tried wool ones. Whatever you go for, if it's a snood, it's goood.
• Jumpers: A bit of an obvious one really, but I will suggest that you get the baggiest jumper from the mens section that you can find and have that as your designated winter tent jumper. Baggy items trap more air (and feel really nice and cosy) so grab something in the sales while you still can.
• Hot water bottles: Get them with the most ridiculous plushy animal covers you can find. Anything to make you laugh while the bills make you cry.
• Blankets: If you can, get a wool duvet for your bed in winter that's a little larger than your bed. For example, if you have a double bed, then get a queen sized blanket so that everyone has enough blanket to really wrap themselves up. They're not cheap, but man... they make a huge difference. If a wool duvet is off the cards for you then a heavy top blanket will really help trap in all the lost heat. I like the IKEA 100% cotton ones for this, they're nice and cheap and heavy. Get a few blankets for the couch too if you can. It can be the most basic easy-to-wash blanket from home bargains that you want. It just has to be large, warm and easy to clean.
• Hat: In England you can get away with a wool beanie and be just fine for the most part. But the absolute crem-de-la-cream as far as really bloody warm hats go is a Ushanka or a bomber/aviator hat. These don't just cover your head, but they also have flaps that cover your ears, fold under your chin and cover the back of your neck. Some even have a face mask attachment you can clip over the front to protects your lower face. In general if you’re preparing for cold, look to the cultures that live in the bloody freezing parts of the world and take notes. If it’s good enough for Siberia, it’s good enough for the UK. I have worn one of these too bed before because I was so cold, I felt warm as a bear and my hair looked like one the day after.
• Shoes: If push comes to shove, and your budget means you can only invest in a few things, invest in a good pair of shoes and a good coat. Get something high which supports your ankles and allows you a little bit of room to wear thick socks. If you’re not sure what brands to go for look at the brands builders wear, they tend to be hardwearing. Shoes geared towards military also tend to be quite good, but avoid thinking that something sold as ‘army grade’ means good quality. It just means the company that made it is using as little money as possible to get the contract.
• Coat: Different people will have different style preferences. Some people like soviet-style puffer jackets, I personally like a thick padded Barbour-style sued coat with a thick quilted inside. Those suckers last for decades! It’s tough, very, very warm and has multiple large and deep pockets. Choose what works for you.
• Gloves: I personally like the fingerless kind, but go with what works for you. The priority is warmth and to not inhibit how well you can use your hands. While the primary goal is warmth, if you have to walk around with your hands unusable unless you remove your gloves, then they’re not really that good. Is needs to be warm and keep you warm throughout the day. Honestly, I like the Home Bargins 80p gloves for this. They're really cheap, pretty hardwearing, and I can't afford anything fancier right now, so they'll have to do.
• Carpets and rugs: My whole house is tile and floorboards, so it’s nowhere near as warm as a carpeted house. Rugs make a big difference (as do slippers) and they have the added benefit of being able to be easily washed, and great to pin a picture of Boris on it so you can beat the shit out of clean it regularly.
• Draft blockers: These long heavy doorway cushions are really good at blocking drafts coming through the gap under the door, but they’re a bit of a pain in arse if you're trying to open the door. If you have a large gap under your doors, try and get the kind with are attached to the door and open and close with it. Also, just a towel will do the trick. So it's not so much buying something as much as saving all the old cruddy towels I hate for this purpose.
• Doorway/door Curtains: I live in a house where all the doors were removed to allow the woodturner to heat the house better. I love it for how much larger everything feels, but in winter it can make the cold feel worse than it is. Doorway curtains are a nice way to still be able to close off sections of the house, insulate a little, and not have cumbersome doors which get in the way. Putting these in for the front and back doors is the best way to keep the cold out.
•Desperation Window Insulations: Doesn’t matter what your reason is, rising bills, frugality, revenge on the posh neighbour that thinks you’re lowering the tone of the neighbourhood. One of the oldest methods is to tape bubble wrap over your windows. It looks odd and might be a bit embarrassing, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I'm saving all the large sheets of bubble wrap I can find over the summer in anticipation for winter. At very least you won’t look like a place worth being burgled. If you can, leave a bit of a gap between the window and the bubble wrap, or condensation can build up and you end up with a mould problem.
In the long run I'm aiming to get a good set of solar panels and a set of lithium battery packs that I could run our small 600w radiator on, but that's a while away, unfortunately. For now, all I can do to prepare for winter is save every scrap of wood for the wood burner, get all the layers bought and ready, and pray that the prices get ridiculous enough to affect those in Parliament. Then, maybe, something might be done to help us plebs.
If you like my series of articles on resilience training (or prepping) you can follow me for more daily articles, or leave me tip and request a particular topic be covered. As detailed in my first post, I unfortunately have a lot of experience with resilience training, and in these strange times it's a skill I'm hoping to share with as many people from the UK as possible.
This series is mostly written in the order it should be approached, specifically for UK readers. You don't need to panic, you don't need a massive budget and you can protect yourself more and more by taking small steps to improve each day. Not sure were to start? Start with my oldest article first and then work your way through them. I'll have a new article for you soon.
About the Creator
A Very English Prepper
I've been prepping for over 10 years. Now, I want to share how you can get started.
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