The cold of an Irish winter in a G rated house


I joked in an article I wrote for the Irish Times before we moved back to Ireland about the “BER rating unknown”. But I joke no more.

We are renting a lovely house on the outskirts of a village and with a pretty view of the sea and the hills. It is charming in so many ways. But the BER rating is at the bottom of the scale, or untested. When we moved in I said to my husband that I had never been so cold in my life. We checked the thermometer and the temperature indoors was 12 degrees. Outside it was 10 degrees, so taking your coat off to come inside is not really an option.

Right now I am wearing two jumpers sitting on the couch with a hot water bottle, under a blanket and cuddling the dog (who is also under the blanket). My fingers are swollen and cracked with chilblains from the lack of hot water and my hair smells like smoke from stoking the open fire. The cold is incredible.

People talk about the cold getting into your bones, and the only solution is to have a hot bath. Without a bath in this particular house, I rely on hot water bottles all day, lots of exercise (thanks to the lady who wrote to me last year about having to do star jumps while watching the teley to keep warm) and plenty of tea (beware, I heard on the radio that tea is the gateway drug to biscuits!).

Earlier in the winter, before the temperatures really dropped, I was going to be early and getting up at 5am to have a golden hour of my own to work - but these days I perish the thought of getting out of bed before the heating has come on to take the chill off the air. Even then…..

It has made me think often of my grandparents, particularly Nana and Granny. They lived with little or no central heating and wore skirts with tights every day. Is our generation soft?

I remember the cold from my childhood in Ireland. I remember draping myself over the plug in radiator in my bedroom as I was studying for my Leaving Cert. Outside was always preferable to indoors. Outside meant coats, hats, gloves and movement. Indoors meant sitting still and getting cold

Has it dampened my desire to stay in Ireland? Not at all. I love it here and we have made a good decision to come back. However, it has increased my interest in modern construction, insulation, energy efficiency and double glazing. Oh to be cosy!

Have you got any great tips for staying warm and cosy in a single glazed Irish home built in the 70s. I’ve been told that installing a stove is the best thing ever!