Plug your home's holes, nice and tight

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015 

under Health by Elle Baptiste

Winter here is made worse by the leaky build quality on most homes. Unless you can pay over 15,000 RMB for an apartment, chances are that your place has more holes than a sponge, doors more like screen doors, and windows that might as well be open.

Here's seven ways to protect your home this winter without replacing entire walls and re-insulating the whole structure.


1. Buy radiators

Radiators, as opposed to air-conditioning, don’t dry you out and actually 'heat' a room. Radiators obviously ‘radiate’ heat, which means that your rooms gradually circulate with real warmth, rather than just constantly cycling warming and cooling air. Go to Suning, Gome, or just Taobao, to buy these from around 200 to 1000 RMB.


2. Insulate radiators with aluminum foil

If you have a radiator attached to a wall, especially one that borders the outside, you can prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators by placing a sheet of aluminum foil behind the radiator. This keeps heat from disappearing through the wall by reflecting it back into the room.


3. Prevent mold

Dry clothes outdoors so their moisture does not get sucked into your walls. When cooking, boiling a kettle, or taking a bath, keep your kitchen or bathroom doors closed to prevent steam from going into colder rooms. Otherwise, condensation can form on the walls and furniture, which will suck in the moisture and start forming mold.

Inside the bathroom or kitchen, if you don’t have fans to suck out the humidity, then you have to wipe down the room’s surfaces, after you’ve cooked or showered, to remove any moisture that’s formed. Otherwise, this excess moisture, again, will soak into walls and furniture to form mold.


4. Get thick, insulated curtains

Thick and heavy curtains not only stop window leaks, but also stop cold windows from cooling air in the room. Curtains with a thermal lining are a relatively cheap solution to heat loss. You can find thermal-lined curtains, or separate thermal curtain-liner, on or at Ikea.

If you don't want to spend on new curtains or curtain liners, you can line them yourself with cheap materials, like fleece, or hang up old quilts.


5. Exploit the sunlight

It's important to use as much natural—and free—heat, in the form of sunlight, as possible. Window shades and curtains should be kept open during the day so the sun can get in and warm the air. Once night falls, close your hopefully thermal-lined curtains to maximize your home’s heat retention potential.


6. Exorcise window ghosts

Do you hear a howl or a ghastly whisper throughout your home? Chances are it’s not haunted, but rather poorly insulated. Lots of heat can be lost through a loose window, a mailbox, or even a keyhole. Doors in China are infamous for open slits at the bottom or other seams. A little extra barrier, such as a rolled up towel or a product designed to seal seams, will exorcise your insulation demons, and the loud teenagers passing your building at 5AM too.


7. Shut unused rooms

Closed doors will keep cold air from moving into the rest of the house while containing the heat you've generated in a smaller area. It’s also easier to heat a smaller area of your house, than it is to heat the whole house.

* While these options might not be the prettiest, their DIY style leaves plenty of options to get creative! That's not a quilt in front of my window, it's a gourmet tapestry! That's not a kitchen foil, it's space age insulation! Those aren't radiators, they're conceptual modern installation art!