General Question

ali_b's avatar

How can I keep my old Victorian home toasty?

Asked by ali_b (8 points ) February 11th, 2007
i live in an old house in san francisco and it can't ever get or stay warm. the heating is electric and super expensive/ineffective, and i'm looking for tips on how to make this old beauty more energy efficient.
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11 Answers

nomtastic's avatar
hang heavy curtains on the windows -- if you don't own any, hang blankets with thumbtacks.
nomtastic's avatar
also, wear a hat
sarahsugs's avatar
When I lived on the east coast people would put clear plastic over the insides of their windows during the winter. It looks like saran wrap and stretches from the top sill to the bottom, so there is some space between the plastic and the glass of your window (hence the insulation). Then you have to blow it with a hair dryer at the edges to seal it and also to get it nice and tight with no wrinkles. If you do it well you can hardly see it. You could probably find it (or at least ask where to get it) at a hardware store.
samkusnetz's avatar
there are two completely different courses of action to take here, based u[on whether you own or rent your home. if you own the place, then you need to insulate it. my wife and i got cellulose insulation blown into the walls of our 100 year old two story house here in portland, and it took about 2 days and cost around 2000 bucks. oregon gave us about 300 back as an energy related tax credit.
samkusnetz's avatar
if you rent the place, though, the window plastic is a good route, as is just keeping the blinds drawn as nomtastic suggests. also, put towels along the gaps under the doors and on the windowsills. put low speed fans in front of the electric heaters to distribute the warm air. close the doors between rooms to prevent drafts.
occ's avatar
I also live in an old building in San Francisco and am a renter, so can't spend money on an energy-upgrade. My old-fashioned solution has worked well: buy one of those grandma-style rubber hot water bottles. All you have to do is fill it with hot water and presto: you have an instant heater to keep on your lap while you watch a movie, read, etc. They really get very hot and can make a huge difference. If you put the hot water bottle under your covers about 10 min before getting into bed, your bed will be heated too. And for ultra-environmental efficiency, once the water has cooled down (about 4 hours later) you can use it to water your plants. NOTE: wrap the bottle in an old towel. Otherwise, it actually gets to so hot it can burn you!
gailcalled's avatar
I, too, have electric zoned heat, hate it and pay thru the nose. Living in the eastern snow belt, I can get things up to around 62 degrees and just layer on clothing...have been known to wear a hat in house. Hot water bottle a super idea. Walls in my newish house not designed for blowing insulation in. Little fans are a good idea, also.
Chuckie_Darwin's avatar
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_31999,00.html?rsrc=search slow-cooked brussel sprouts - these are very easy to make and turned out great - highly recommended!
Chuckie_Darwin's avatar
whoops, ignore that response it was intended for another question, although have you considered stuffing brussels sprouts in all the walls as insulation?
gailcalled's avatar
They are too busy sitting in little chairs, having little fans play gently over them. (What happened to the "edit" feature?)
steelmarket's avatar

Relentlessly track down drafts and plug them. Light some incense – the smoke is a great way to track them down.
With high ceilings, such as in old victorians, your heated air hangs out on the ceiling, not down by your cold feet. Ceiling fans can push that warmer air down where you can enjoy it. There are some portable fans that are built to push air straight up. They will help if you don’t have ceiling fans.

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