Monday, 29 November 2010

Cold comfort

I've just remembered why people like modern houses.

It's a revelation that usually occurs in mid January, but this year the reality of living in a house with the insulating properties of a paper bag has come early. And, although you can't actually see your breath in the morning (the norm during the winter months of my childhood), shuffling around on chilblained feet, wrapped in blankets like Apache Indians, to the constant refrain of 'shut that door!' is becoming tiresome.

Incredibly, we have actually carried out tons of work to raise the temperature of our house to slightly above freezing. I have the regulation depth of rockwool in the loft, polystyrene stuff between the roof joists, a load of double glazing, and I've even just paid for someone to line the sloping attic ceiling with insulated plaster board. Despite all this I think I've just spotted a polar bear on the landing muttering about the draught.

It is, of course, possible to bring a period property up to modern insulation standards. There is a wonderful end terrace Victorian home nearby which has had its emissions reduced by around 80%
(http://home2.btconnect.com/eco-refurbishment/) but it doesn't come cheap. Not as cheap as jumpers, hot water bottles and sausage-dog draught excluders anyway.

But, though my fingers are stiff with cold typing this, would I really like to live in a modern house? No, well, not one that I could afford anyway. The lunch-box quality of the air in the average new build has never appealed, but a Huf Haus would do nicely. Though even Hufs have their drawbacks.

When I interviewed the lovely couple who built their Huff on Grand Designs the only complaint the lady had was that, as there are no draughts, the mobile which her artist husband had made for her didn't move. So, I suppose the polar bears and I should consider ourselves lucky. And, in the spirit of the saying, 'if life gives you lemons', I am off to buy a mobile. Let's hope the shop is nice and warm.

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