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I live in a studio apartment that I rent from my parents, in France. Each winter, it gets very cold. The region is very sunny, but the specific area around my building is significantly colder (due to being in a small valley, a water stream nearby, tall trees, etc). The building is very old (1800s) and made out of stone. My studio has two floors: the second floor (main area) and a bedroom upstairs, under the roof.

I did not heat my apartment from spring to November, but this past few days, it has been very cold and I need to act. The temperature in the studio dropped from 20ish degrees celsius to 11.5 in a matter of days. The problem is that I track my power consumption using an app provided by the electricity company, and as soon as I turned on the heaters, my daily cost went from 1.90€ to 7.50€. I unfortunately cannot afford to pay this daily for the whole winter.

Here is how the apartment is heated.

Second floor (main floor, kitchen, office, bathroom):

  • There is a new generation "ceramic inertia heater" underneath the kitchen window (facing south).
  • There are two old school electric radiators under the windows facing North
  • There is a heating towel rack in the bathroom, that I never really use
  • The kitchen window is well located but really tall trees prevent a lot of sunlight from entering the room. Each day, I have to turn on the lights, except between 11 AM to 2 PM approximately.

Third floor (bedroom, under the roof)

  • There is a ceiling window (Velux) on the roof, facing South

  • There is an old oil radiator that I can move around and that I sometimes turn on at night.

Additional details:

Last week, I did not heat my apartment and it went down to 11.5 degrees Celsius when I came back from work at 6 PM. The apartment below mine is not inhabitated, neither is the one across the hall from my entrance door. I cannot install a wood furnace, a petrol heater or the like. All windows, Velux included, are double-paned glass.

My current heating strategy: This is what I am currently doing. I turn on the kitchen window radiator to 13.5 degrees. I put the ones on the two other windows oon anti-freeze mode with the dial on 2 or 3. I do not use the bathroom's radiator because the heat from my shower is enough for comfort. At night, I sometimes turn on the oil heater in my bedroom, to the minimum setting. I wear a sweater, slippers, and put a drape over myself when I sit at the computer for a long time.

I'm being as frugal as I can be, but I am very cold and expected to pay 200+ euros at the end of the month for electricity only. I am willing to keep living like this, but if you have any advice or solution, it is more than welcome.

Here is a plan of my apartment (proportions are wrong):

Diagram of my apartment.

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    Mini split heat pumps are about the best bang for money when running. Much better than the electric heaters you have now.
    – crip659
    Nov 15, 2023 at 15:41
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    All your heat sources (new or old) are "toaster" heat. That is electric resistance. 100% efficient, but only 100% efficient, where heat pumps can be 300-500% efficient (more typically 300) on the same fuel. Heat pumps do have a high inital cost, but the much lower running cost soon pays off. Of course, insulation pays off even faster, if you have uninsulated stone walls...
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 15, 2023 at 16:20
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    I'd investigate if there's a way in the historic rules to add something outside but some meters away from the historic building, which would thus not alter the building exterior. Otherwise, get historic and start covering the walls inside with heavy tapestries for the winter.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 15, 2023 at 16:29
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    Sitting on an XPS or EPS insulating foam panel, your body's heat feels amazingly warm. Sitting on such a chunk of insulating foam might make you considerably more comfortable at your computer. Even double pane windows are pretty useless for keeping heat inside, so you could use that same insulation material over windows at least 50% of the time.
    – popham
    Nov 16, 2023 at 7:16
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    @ChrisH, the trees outsides are massive sycamore trees. Deciduous, but they have very thick branches and they still cast a lot of shadow without leaves.
    – C. Crt
    Nov 20, 2023 at 10:52

1 Answer 1

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Add insulation: start adding heavy curtains to the windows on the north side of the building, then insulate the ceiling of the top floor (under the roof), if you have enough height, consider a suspended ceiling otherweise just add insulation panels under the shingles from outside.

Consider double-glazing, at least the windows facing north.

Use heat-pump to heat instead of resistive heaters, it's 3 five more efficient than electric (your 8€/day will go to around 3€/day just for that). A 3-split system may be enough (also if you already have the AC, check if it can also do heat, as said is much more efficient than resistive).

Consider moving the PC in the bedroom, so you'll avoid to heat a room with no much use (or, better, move the bed at the second floor so you avoid heating the loft that is much more wasteful having 5 sides exposed instead of 4)

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    If you abandon the loft for the winter, you'll need to close it off somehow as warm air will convect up there. There may already be a door of course. I stayed for a few days somewhere like that (usually only rented out in summer but it was winter), and we had to get creative with clips and weights to cover the top of the stairwell with a blanket. That made a huge difference to keeping the lower floor warm
    – Chris H
    Nov 15, 2023 at 16:21
  • Hi, good ideas, thank you. All my windows are already double-glazed and I cannot install a heat pump (building limitations), but I did add heaevy curtains to close off the north-facing part of the house. I tried moving my desk upstairs, and closing off the lower bedroom. My plan is for th Velux to heat up the house during the day, and close it with a thick built-in curtain at night.
    – C. Crt
    Nov 29, 2023 at 10:31

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