Staying Warm – Lessons from the Past

By Bev,

It has been less than 100 years since central heat has become main stream, maybe less. Hard for  me to say because I’ve spent my life for the most part without central heat. This house has it, which is rather nice. But the thermostat is set at 60 degrees and I’m cold. So what is an old woman to do?

Do you remember visiting your great-grandparents on the farm or even in town? They didn’t have central heat or if they did it was a boiler, coal, or oil stove in the basement and big open grates in the floors where the heat would rise and warm the whole house. Not a bad lesson to have backup heat in the basement and let it rise to heat the whole home to an ambient temperature.

Do you ever watch the old westerns from the 30s and 40s? Ever notice how every doorway had big heavy drapes on it? That was to section off portions of the house to keep drafts out and warmth in from body heat, oil lamps, and wood/coal stoves in individual rooms. Drapes on the windows and doorways were not a fashion statement, they were for warming and cooling the house.

Ever go into a Victorian home and notice that the sleeping rooms are upstairs? That is because heat rises and you will be warmer upstairs than at ground level as long as the fire is stoked. The upstairs was usually sleeping area for the children. Parents’ slept downstairs to keep the fire up.

So, I’m an old woman attempting to keep warm in 2014. What do I do?


Close the doors that I can close to each room.

Note insulation board from my window insulation project last night.

upstairs blankets

 Stapled up a wool blanket and towel to block off the upstairs.

kitchen blankets

Stapled up a quilt and a painters’ tarp into the kitchen.

Always leave an easy access overlap doorway.


Heat the room I am in only. I have three of these quartz heaters that roll around. I don’t believe I can heat the house with them at -27, but they do keep the individual rooms comfortable raising the temperature from 60 degrees to a level where my nose and fingers are warm.

Extra quilts on the bed and sleeping in pajamas with a hood or stocking hat helps a lot.

Keep the insulated curtains closed during the day too. One window is all you need to look out of to see what the weather is like below zero.

Sweaters and insulated jeans worn in the house along with shoes instead of slippers and a hat if needed.

Do you have suggestions on how to stay warm? Please comment!

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