Aw, the picture above reminds that there will again be a time when the yurt bubble is open and there is not a 2 foot field of condensed snow surrounding our home. In the meantime, we are dealing with an El Nino winter to topple records with a couple of months left to go. How are we staying warm without all of the trappings of modern homes? Through the very simple tricks listed below.
Back in the fall when the warnings of the severity of our winter seemed far off, I decided to make us curtains for the yurt. The huge advantage of our home is that we have a ton of light and, due to our spectacular natural surroundings, also have gorgeous views. But our windows are plastic so I knew that we would have to do some covering up for the winter. So I invented (or think I did . . .) the yurtain, a perfect curtain for the yurt. It is a very simple utilitarian design. I bought fabric that was already quilted, fancied up the edges with some binding and then added the ties at the top. Voila, the yurtain. The ties are important because we don’t have the ability to hang a traditional curtain rod. These stretch to cover up our windows pretty well. In the mornings when we leave for work, we simply remove one tie to let the sun in for solar heat gain. When we get home, we tie the curtains back up for warmth. Although only a half inch thick, there is a definite difference when the curtains are up.
Like all homes, we lose a lot of heat through our front door. To combat some of this loss, we installed weatherstripping around the perimeter. Next, I made a curtain out of scraps with batting in between to stop the leakage from the glass window. This curtain, like the others, has ties so that we can take it down to allow light in. Last, I made a simple door snake. In the weatherization workshops, we always taught people that stopping the small leaks all around the house has a large cumulative effect. This is the same principle applied here. I fashioned a quick door snake for the bottom out of leftover scrap fabric and stuffed with all of the small pieces of quilting batting I had lying around that were not good for anything else. I knew there would be an occasion for all of these stashed scraps!
Lastly, we decided to enhance the space by our bed since that is where we spend a lot of our home time. As our walls are rounded, a headboard does not work. This allowed us to get a little creative. First I stuffed foam from our furniture projects between the crossbars of our wall creating a padding and barrier. Second, I hung up the pea quilt to cover up the foam and create another layer. (Right now I’m not worried about the quilt getting bleached because the sun is too low in the sky.) Then we added a second set of pillows behind our pillows for yet another layer of protection. With this set up, we have no draft in our bed. We use flannel sheets, a down comforter and a wool blanket to stay toasty inside. If it’s especially cold, we can always wear a hat to bed and add another quilt on top.
Our home is heated by a wood stove that is brand new and fairly efficient considering that a lot of the heat is lost to our high ceilings. We stumble over in the middle of the night to add a couple of logs until we wake up. Not once has the stove been so cold as to not keep coals when we are tending the fire. We start the fire immediately when we get home and wait only a little while for the place to heat up. During this time we are also busy moving and getting dinner ready that the cold is hardly noticeable. It is really a pretty simple set up and works well for our home.
When we are home in the winter, we are not sitting around in T-shirts and burning logs with abandon. We wear sweaters and slippers and we use the plethora of blankets we have around. This is how we all used to live in the not so distant past. What we are doing is what has always been done. We are conscientious of little steps that we can take that have big impacts. Collectively, if everyone turned down their thermostats even a few degrees and donned a sweater, plus plugged up the smaller leaks around the home, it could make a huge impact on our wallets and our planet. We all can keep ourselves comfortable in the deepest darkest of winters with simple solutions.