Old House Woes: It’s Chilly Up In Here

by farrah on December 10, 2014 · 3 comments

We cannot figure out how to make our thermostat work. My husband has tried to figure it out on their website, download the app, etc- but I think the only thing that’s going to help is calling someone and asking them to come out and show us how to use it or fix the thing. At least we have a handle on the Celsius scale- otherwise, I’d say were in serious trouble. Today I’m talking about the joys of living in an older home in a foreign country in winter. Also, I’m a wimp and used to ‘American comforts’ like excess heat.


This is a house with heat registers in every room. Because the house has a strange set-up, there are many of them and they could blast and waste heat all day unless I played the ‘turn on/turn off’ the register game every morning. When I leave a room upstairs I have to make sure that I screw the dial down on the register itself to turn it off in there, something we didn’t think about doing in the first house. The ‘brain’ of the whole thing is in the main living room and it has a motion sensor so decides when to turn itself off. This might be helpful, but what about when we’re being lazy slobs on the couch and don’t move for 15 minutes? The heat shuts off and we have to go over to it to make it turn on. The default temperature that we cannot change is 15 degrees (that’s 59F).

Every bathroom has its own register as well, and the one on the main floor is FREEZING. You think I’m kidding- it is so cold I would rather squat than put my skin on the freezing seat. It’s like we have an outhouse. That is as close as I will ever come to having one, I suppose.

But cold it is- and if you can imagine a bathroom where you have to shower in the morning that is icy to walk into- brrr! I won’t even tell you how I do the laundry. You wouldn’t believe me. But it involves going outside to another part of the house to use the dryer. Long story for another day. But again- brrr.

When we got home from the States last month, I asked my husband to put the plastic sheets on all of the upstairs windows. They’re old and they’re not double glazed. That means they leak and are freaking COLD. So while I hate to imagine what it would be like without them, even with them I can feel cold air blow down on me while I’m in bed. Add that to the turned-off register in the room and this is just one big whine-fest. It’s December. It is supped to be cold. I need to get over it. Thus I keep my old pair of fleece boots on all day and layer myself in big sweaters and scarves.

Not to mention my obsession with saying SHUT THE DOOR PLEASE. Because the front ‘coffee room’ isn’t used all that much, we keep the register in there off. If we leave the door connecting that to the living room open you can feel the cold air blowing in to the main area. Same thing with the door to the bathroom/laundry area off of the kitchen. I have given up asking the boys to keep the seat down (which doesn’t matter I guess since I just squat due to the cold seat) and just harp on the damn doors everywhere.

Well, at least we have doors. I showed you the number of them in a post about the house a while back- guess I know what they’re for!

Thus is my non Christmas Spirited post again today: I give you life in an old house and what it’s like in the winter. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go turn the heat up, find a blanket and hibernate for the next few hours while my children are at school. I promise my next post will be filled with Christmas cheer!

And no. We have not yet made the cookies. 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wendy December 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

Your post made me laugh and sympathise with you! I too am used to North American heating – lovely forced air keeping the house at a warm temperature day and night.

Here in Ireland we have radiators and the thermostat doesn’t have a set temperature – it simple has 4 settings – on/twice/all day/constant.

Oh and a button called boost that you can hit to turn the heating on for an hour.

Our first year here we kept the heating on all day every day until we saw the insane bill.

Now we have it on for about an hour and a half before we get up and an hour and a half around dinner/bedtime. We wear sweaters, snuggle under blankets and use the fireplace.

We also have a bathroom with no heater that is so cold everyone avoids it all winter long. I swear you can see your breath in there!

Good luck -stay warm and remember that long underwear is totally fashionable 😉


2 farrah December 11, 2014 at 7:55 am

Oh brrrrrrr!!! You know my pain well! I wish we had a fireplace. My husband went to our neighbors’ house last week and said they had a wood burning stove in the kitchen. He said ‘It was SO warm!!!’. Color me jealous!


3 Ann December 12, 2014 at 1:29 pm

One of the places we considered here had a stone system. Basically, the stones heat overnight so you have to determine how warm you want it to be the night before. You can’t make it hotter or colder the day of. So, if you think it’ll be real cold, but it isn’t, you’re stuck. But if you don’t make it as warm as it should be, you need blankets.

I’m just not organized enough for that.


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