Life without central heating and hot water

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central heating, hot water, family life, resourcefulness,
Prior to our new central heating system being fitted, life was a bit…cold. Pic credit below.

Back in November we had a small family crisis. Our central heating system broke down. It had been unreliable for some time but part way through the month it stopped working altogether.  This left my children, wife and I with no heating and nothing but an electric shower to provide hot water.

A replacement central heating system was only installed last week. In other words, we limped on for two months with no heating and no reliable hot water source in the middle of winter, albeit a mild one.

I don’t mean to go all first world problems on you. We weren’t homeless or fleeing a civil war (in fact I recorded this vlog about first world problems last week). It was an inconvenience but we got through it.

During those two months, I made a number of observations. Here are five things I noticed during our time without heat and hot water.

  1. You have to be careful about mould. Our house is double glazed and, being winter, we left the windows closed at first. This rapidly led to a mould problem. It’s largely dealt with now, but the speed it came on was staggering.
  2. After a while, you take the path of least resistance. We have a wood burning stove in our living room. At first it was kept burning 24/7 to provide some heat. I was often outside at half six in the morning chopping kindling wood and logs for the fire. We made our way through a tonne of logs costing £50 at frightening speed. We then noticed the mould and invested in a 3Kwh fan heater so we could heat the affected rooms. Once we had the fan heater, we didn’t light the fire again.
  3. You get into strange habits. If I go and wash my hands now, even though we have hot water on demand, I reach out for the cold tap as that’s what I’d been doing since November!
  4. Faced with boiling a kettle every time you need to wash up, you frequently wash up in cold water. Only thing is, it doesn’t work. Our saucepans became very difficult to clean.
  5. You become resourceful, and it’s very uplifting. Whether it’s encouraging the children to have a bower (when you put the plug in the bath and encourage the children to fill it from the shower), learning the quickest way to light a fire or make kindling and get used to using water bottles, you get by. It makes you realise how pampered you are with modern conveniences and it feels good to cope without one or two of them.

That’s how we got on without heating or hot water. Have you had a similar experience? How did you cope? Does it sound like a nightmare or an adventure to you?

Pic credit Ansgar Walk. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.


Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

And then the fun began...

19 thoughts on “Life without central heating and hot water”

    1. Hi in 2006 my father gave a property,to my cousin and I ,in which it was it uninhabitable but it was a commercial property above a shop which has been rented out since the 90s ,in 2006 I had moved there thinking that with the rent from the shop it would help fix the problems such as no gas , central heating, double glazing,since there is no tenancy agreement and I hav we to pay council tax nothing has changed asy cousin consistently takes all the rent for himself while I hav we been living with just an electric shower ,the government say as I am a co owner ie (landlord) it is my responsibility ,I have suffered over 15 years without any help from the government or the co owner of the property it would be a hazzard to the health of any child living there ,which is why I have no children,I have tried everything but am at a loss of what to do , solicitors just want to bill me £350 an HR just to say there isn’t much they can do as it’s a civil problem,is there anyone out there with any advice I would be grateful for any kind of solution.

      Thanks to oursr dhanda

  1. At my parent’s house there is heating but it’s very expensive to switch it on (they don’t live in the UK), so it’s not switched on very often, and they have a solar power water heater so it depends on if it’s a sunny day or not they will get hot water…. They do have an electric water heater for when they really need hot water and there is no sun. They now use little electric heaters around the house as well as gas ones, but these only give warmth to the person sitting next to it… and it’s meant to snow tonight! Anyway, we’re used to this and it’s not that of a big deal… not ideal I know but people can get used to different circumstances… Think of how people are coping in Syria now (my parents live next to them!)

    1. You are so right Diana. In fact in my blog post about first world problems I make absolutely clear that any issues I had, pale in comparison to those fleeing civil war in Syria and elsewhere. It’s a dreadful situation they are experiencing and it must not be made light of.

  2. I guess it’s true, we adapt to our situation however challenging! Thank goodness for a mild winter though. We haven’t had to deal with anything like that – I guess the worst thing was when our bathroom was being renovated and having to find other ways to get washed! You’re right though, it’s a great lesson to learn that we do lead such pampered lives normally. Thanks for linking up! #thetruthabout

    1. It was a good lesson and, to be honest, could have been much worse. Yes, it was labour intensive but we pushed on through!

  3. I reckon I would have moaned and whined for a bit and just got on with it. I can’t get over how fast the mould set it! You don’t expect that. I think not being able to wash things up may have got frustrating but thank goodness it has been so mild! You all sound pretty laid back and adaptable!! xx #thetruthabout

    1. Oh the mould set it an frightening speed. It was grim. The new heating system seems ot have resolved the issue though.

  4. Brrr, that’s making me cold just thinking about it. Nightmare situation.

    We like you have a wood burner, although haven’t used it that much this year annoyingly. But then we’ve got a temperamental aga – but less likely to totally go out than having boiler issues.

    1. Ah ha yes, the wood burning stove and Aga scenario. That’s what I grew up with. Can get very cold indeed if the Aga goes out, especially if it supplies your hot water too.

  5. Oh gosh John I am right there with you and it was a bloomin’ nightmare I’m not going to lie! Thank goodness it has made us realise quite how lucky we are and taught us a good bit of endurance at the same time 😉 wouldn’t want to do it again, to be fair! Thanks for linking up to #thelist x

    1. Yeah….well we’er about to go through it all again Amy. The spine wall of the house is coming down in a couple of weeks to make way for our new kitchen / diner. This time, however, we’re moving out while the work is done. Wish us luck!

  6. Wow! We were without heating for five days whilst we had our new heating system installed and I had to bail the children out – I was lucky, it was pre-planned so over half term. But me and the OH lived it, and it did feel very back-to-basics. Water was used less, we were more efficient with closing doors to keep what little heat from our electric fire in the relevant rooms etc – less wasteful and more resourceful I’d say . You don’t realise just how easy life is with a dishwasher, running water etc.
    Hats off to you

    1. It’s so true Tracey; you need an experience like this to realise just how easy life is with all mod cons. Thing is, it also allows you to be resourceful and I found it a real opportunity. It was a pain at times but, ultimately, an educational experience.

  7. Pingback: Our new kitchen; the work begins - Dad Blog UK

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