Oh no it’s raining again! We don’t have central heating but the living room is 14.5 celsius without it so that’s probably not too bad. If you’re wearing a thick jumper. I’ve read various online opinions from experienced expats on the most efficient form of heating in Portugal. Double glazing and insulation being a given. With that in mind, how are we doing?
Aha, we should move to Portugal I hastily thought as icy rain hit me in the face in England two years ago. It’s warm there. We froze through our first winter in the inland region of Castelo Branco in a house where we had ripped out the ceiling and therefore scuppered the chance of adding additional insulation. Instead we created two mezzanine spaces. They look good though. Our neighbour insisted on giving us extra quilts which we were too polite to turn down, maybe we looked cold as we left the house and she was right, along with a constant supply of cabbages and oranges.
Eventually we installed a wood burning stove.
Here we are, a year on much nearer Lisbon and the coast, again without central heating. On the bright side, touching wood here, I’ve not had a cold all winter. The other day it was 20 celsius outside and a lovely sunny day. Portuguese houses are traditionally designed to keep out heat though so it’s often much colder inside.
The heating system the previous owners had installed was let’s say, unusual. A large pipe ran from the top of the fireplace around the ceiling into which hot air is supposed to flow from the fire. It was then boxed in. A builder who first came to look at the house said he had the same system and it was useless and advised us to dispose of it. Diggory, the builder we finally employed, ripped out parts of it in the kitchen and showed us a nest that had been made inside, suspiciously more like rodent than birds nests, but then who knows the house was at one time full of birds before we moved in. Evidenced by the amount of mess they’d left everywhere.
When the electricians came along they tore off another bit of the piping system leaving an ugly gap which we tried to hide over Christmas by hanging Christmas stockings over it. Zed finally decided to rip out the rest of the boxing above the fireplace which is now ready for me to paint over. Looking forward to it.
So what are we heating ourselves with? Hmmm. The main hall has a fire place. Clearly it used to have a glass front which the last owners or vandals ripped out just leaving the metal casing. It’s not therefore very efficient but it burns wood and looks cosy. For actual heat we have an ugly Calor gas heater in the living room and electric radiators in the bedrooms.
The long term plan is to install air conditioners which combine as heaters during the winter months as recommended by friends who have probably tried just about everything. Costing around 700 euros to buy and install per unit. Judging by various online forums, a wood burning stove seems cost wise to be the most efficient form of heating. Logs are approximately 100 euros a ton. Thing is I love to stare into flames in lieu of any decent TV programmes and so we will stay with an open fire and at some point replace the glass. Solar heating isn’t apparently cost efficient due to the high price of installation (though of course a must for helping the planet if you can afford it) and we would eventually like to go that route for hot water. We have been quoted 2500 euros although I’m sure we’ll end up paying more. But that’s another story.
Meanwhile, a thick jumper will have to do and plenty of outdoor walks.
If you’ve got any tips and experiences on this subject I’d love to hear about them in the comments!