Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Renovation Tips & gifts for Old House People

For those who read this blog who live in warmer climates, winter in the midwest is simply not fun. Doing restoration work or living in restoration is definitely not fun. Given that, I thought I might share a couple of tips for those of us who find our selves either working in the cold or living in the cold during a house restoration. Also these are the perfect Holiday gift for Old House people!
My new "favorite thing' for winter work is "Toasty Toes" and "Little Hotties". If you have ever stood at the checkout line at Lowes or Home Depot you have probably seen these and wondered just what they are and what they do. I finally decided to buy some and I am sold on their effectiveness ( by the way, I have found these at Big Lots by the box for a fraction of what they sell for in the home improvement stores). basically they are a vermiculite based packet with some chemical in them. You shake them for about 20-30 seconds and they heat up for several hours. Depending on the type, they reach an internal temperature of 105-130 degrees. You place them inside a glove or shoe and instant heat. This is really great for gloves as I usually wear the cloth ones because the leather work gloves are too unwieldy to pick things up and hold nails and such. they also make larger packets to go inside a shirt. After using these I am SOLD! Another application I have found is that if you have an arthritic knee or joint they are a great source of soothing heat.
Now our home here in Indy is fully insulated and has a state of the art heat pump but lets face it heating is expensive in the winter. Our solution at night is a heated mattress cover. You can find these at most stores ( about 50.00) Unlike an electric blanket which puts the heat on top of you. These go on top of the mattress and below the sheets. Since warmth rises you can have a normal comfortor on top and stay toasty warm. Unlike the Victorian days when you had 16 blankets on the bed just to keep warm. These have dual controls so you can keep your side as warm or cool as you like.
My last tip is the Electric Fireplace. No these are not the cardboard and glowing light fake fireplace your parent put out at the holiday. Today's electric Fireplaces are a perfect point of use heat system that can be turned on to provide supplemental heat in a room you are in. You can buy them with Mantles at the home improvement store but I prefer to buy just the units. You can easily incorporate these into an Old Decorative Victorian fireplace and they are great, used with cast iron fireplaces as you can put the vented summer cover and front and you never see them and the heat will, radiate warming up the original cast iron mantle. They typically come in a 1300 and 1500 watt settings and have an eclectic blower motor. They are safe and very effective and will easily keep 400 square feet or so warm and thereby avoid keeping the entire house at normal temperature.

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