Advice for a renter

Advice for a renter

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:29 am

Hi,

I'm currently renting a 2 bedroom end of terrace house in Leeds. The house has no central heating and relies on storage heaters and a gas fire for warmth, and as we approach winter it has been getting noticeably colder and drafty. As it is rented I'm reluctant to spend much money on home improvements. Do you have any suggestions (that will be minimal in cost and do not require much modification) to help keep the little heat we have? I'm thinking along the lines of thermal curtains etc.

Thanks!

Luke
Luke
 
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Re: Advice for a renter

Postby Nicola@TheEC » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:37 am

Hi Luke!
A couple of years ago I lived in a pretty old student house with extreme coldness. It had traditional sash windows, however these didn't actually meet in the middle. In my bedroom I had a 1cm gap in the middle of the window between the top and bottom panes! Similarly the house had old wooden doors which had warped and been bashed! Like yourself I didn't want to spend money doing up the house I was renting and my landlord didn't care about the temperature :(

To fix the drafts (and ladybird attack!) I used old socks and masking tape to plug the gap in the windows. I was originally going to use a strip of good old duck tape, but I didn't want to be charged with the repairs to the window paint when I moved out. Once I'd stopped the gale blowing in, I then tackled the fact the my single glassed window the size of a traditional bay window were leaking any heat my equally vintage radiator provided!

To solve the window problem (and the fact I can't sleep unless it's pitch black!) I bought myself some black out curtains which are thicker than your average curtains to block out the day light. The difference was amazing! I went from being able to see my breathe whilst standing in front of the window to not being able to at all....even when there was ice on the inside of my windows! If I'd have thought about it more at the time, I'd have gone for some thermal curtains, but I opted for the cheap option. I think I only paid about £10 for my curtains!

For the drafty doors, if you can't screw draft excluders to the bottom I'd recommend one of those snake draft excluders. The bean bag ones are particularly good as they fit into the gap under your door more.... this was especially useful at my parents when my dad 'accidentally' cut too much off the living room door to accommodate the new carpet!

Hope that helps you a little way to being a bit warmer... I'm sure others will have some advice too! :)

Let me know what things you try and how you get on!

Good luck!
Nicola
Co-founder of The Energy Community
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Re: Advice for a renter

Postby Andrew@TheEC » Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:22 pm

Hi Luke,

I think there are two issues here: the fact that you are a renter, and having storage heaters. Nicola discussed some options for your drafts above so I am going to think about other options.

Firstly, your storage heaters; they are a great device if you are on an Economy 7 electricity tariff, as it allows you to build up stored heat during the night when electricity is cheap. Nicola discussed Economy 7 tariffs in one of our previous Know-How guides. So, what should you do? First, make sure you are using your storage heaters in the most efficient way. There are different models of electric storage heaters out there, but generally they have two controls: input and output. Output is the obvious one, this controls the amount of heat emitted by the unit. The input control controls how much each is stored over night. Make sure you know which is which!

Setting the output control to how much heat you want is relatively easy. The input control is more difficult as you need to predict how much heat you think you will need tomorrow. This may take a bit of experimentation. But, it is important to remember you won't get more heat out than you put in! You may need to start watching the weather reports to help. If the weather is expected to get warmer turn the input dial down. Or, if the heater is still emitting heat when you go to bed then you have too much heat stored so could afford to turn the input dial down too. If the opposite is true and the heater stops emitting heat before you want it to stop, you need to turn the dial up. Learn to love your control dials!

Once, you have got used to the controls you need to think about how to use that heat most efficiently. If you are leaving the house turn the output control down to zero and also probably an hour before you go to bed. Also, when the weather is good (spring/summer) remember to turn the unit off at the wall.

Unfortunately, most of my advice requires you to be proactive about getting the most from your storage heater.

According to the Energy Saving Trust electric storage heaters are one of the most expensive and inefficient ways of heating your home :( Another thing to address is the electricity tariff you are on, to try and get the most cost efficient way of heating your house; we have a separate thread here.

I have started a new thread in our Lifestyle Section to address some of the specific issues if you are renting your home.

I hope some of the above helps.
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Re: Advice for a renter

Postby LightBulb14 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:59 pm

I have a similar problem to Luke, I just don't know what to do for the best!

I'm going to give the draft excluder a go, see if that makes my living room any warmer :D

Does anyone know if the foil that goes behind your heaters are any good? I have electric heaters (not storage heaters) and it always feels like it's the air above them that gets hot rather than the room itself.... any advice for this??

Thanks :D
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Re: Advice for a renter

Postby Alex@TheEC » Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:02 pm

Hi Lightbulb14,

These reflective panels behind radiators really do work! Radiators send out heat in both directions, and the heat directed towards the wall often gets absorbed by the wall itself which isn't very useful! The heat then rises, and slowly warms the room. Radiators aren't great at heating the lower part of a room, since heat always rises, but the more heat you get rising, the more of your room gets heated.

You can buy magnetic reflective strips that attach to your radiator, but if you want a cheaper option, foil still does the trick!

Luke,

I sympathise with your predicament here and the comments above are really good advice. The only thing that I can add to this is from my experience last year. Most storage heaters have the advantage of having the ability to be switched off and on really easily. Last year my place was storage heaters only, so I only turned on the heaters in the rooms where I spent most of my time. It's a really simple way of saving money and keeping your favourite room warm.

I hope these help you both, if you have any more questions, please do ask! :)
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