Every winter, a joke does the rounds on social media: You know you’re a South African when anything below 16 degrees Celsius is Arctic weather. South Africa is renowned for its beautiful, balmy, sunny summer’s days, so for many of us, winter proves difficult, especially seeing as the average South African home isn’t exactly built for colder weather. For lack of central heating systems, South Africans are faced with the challenge of preparing their homes for colder days – often on a shoestring budget.
Fear not, though, there are some cheap DIY solutions that will keep Jack Frost at bay this winter.
1. Block up nooks and crannies
Heat tends to escape anywhere a draught can come through. Insulating your home starts with blocking up these nooks and crannies, and that isn’t difficult at all. For one, a sausage dog draught excluder comes in handy to block the heat from getting out of the rooms where you spend most of your time, like the living room or bedroom. It’s not difficult to make your own sausage dog draught excluder, but if you’re really strapped for cash, you can always lay down some old towels to plug up the gaps underneath doors and windows. On your next trip to the hardware store, keep an eye out for self-adhesive rubber seals that can be installed to prevent heat loss through gaps around your windows.
Insulate your windows
Even in the winter, South Africa is still a relatively sunny country, and utilising the heat of the sun during winter is the easiest way to keep your home warm during the day. For maximum heat utilisation, you can invest in a window insulator kit, but taping a large clear shower curtain to the inside of the window works just as well, and at a fraction of the cost. Tape it to the window so it extends just past the frame, and you will not only still allow the sun in during the day, but you’ll also leave an air gap to prevent heat loss. When the sun sets, close your curtains. The insulating shower curtain will retain the heat during the night much more efficiently than just relying on your curtains will.
Lay down carpets and rugs
It is estimated that homes can lose up to 10% of their heat due to floors that are bare and not insulated. Simply laying down a few rugs on your tiles goes a long way to keep your home warm. Visit markets and wholesalers to find cheaper loose mats, carpets and rugs, and see the difference they make – your feet will be grateful and your home will be much warmer.
Close the doors
There really isn’t a simpler way to keep the heat trapped in an area than by blocking up holes where it can escape. This is especially true of doors that are left open. Choose a central area where you usually spend your time and close the other doors in the house to keep the heat in. It seems pretty obvious, but air that circulates throughout the house doesn’t concentrate the heat, it spreads it around. It won’t cost you anything, but it will certainly have a tangible effect.
Snuggle with another person or with your pet
If there’s one thing that people love about winter, it’s the fact that it’s the best time of the year to cuddle. If you’re living with a partner, take advantage of the cold weather by snuggling up under a blanket and sharing body heat. Singletons, don’t fret – a pet is just as good for cuddling purposes. You’ll be glad to hear that cuddling is good for your health, too! When you cuddle up, your brain releases oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone that will instantly improve your mood. When oxytocin is released, your body also increases the release of hormones that fight off infections, which means that your immune system gets an extra boost, too. If you ask us, that sounds like the perfect solution to the winter and everything that comes with it. The only thing that’s missing is a nice cup of hot chocolate.