How we prepare for a winter in the château

Château de Pazayac covered in snow

How we prepare for a winter in the château

22 november 2023

How we prepare for a winter in the château

22 november 2023
Château de Pazayac covered in snow
With the experience of the past two winters, we know how to prepare for a winter in the château. Right?

Well, knowing what we should do, doesn't automatically mean that we are actually doing it.

I mean, we could install a new heating system and have central heating throughout the château, but that's easier said than done. Also *cha-ching*!

Secondly, we could of course replace all the windows and doors. They are in bad shape and need restoring or replacing. We are looking at replacing, since that would bring insulation with it, and thus preservation for the château in the future. But replacing all the windows and doors? *Cha-ching*!

Are we heating the château at all?

Well yes, partially, we are heating the château. I keep saying that we don't have heating, but there's a difference between not having any heating, and not having central heating.

Guess I'm still very much used to newer homes, and heating/central heating is the same thing for me! Jan said: 'Stop saying it! They'll send child services over to check if our kids aren't neglected!' Oops.

So, here's how we prepared for the coming winter:

Step 1: Make sure the girls are comfortable

I think every parent's thoughts go out to their kids first. So whatever happens, we want the girls to have a comfortable winter.

Juliette has new electricity in her room, so there's no problem heating her room with an electric radiator. She also has an electric mattress heater for when winter gets really frois.

Milou is still sleeping in the guest room, and the electricity there hasn't been replaced yet. She does have an electric radiator, but we are not sure the socket will hold all winter long. The backup plan is in place though.

There already is a connection between her room and the fuse box downstairs. There is an unused fuse in there, from when we had to power the boiler in the cave with a cable that went through the window and the garden. But that's another story, for another day.
If push comes to shove we can connect a new cable there, and put a temporary socket in Milou's room. She'll be a warm baby this winter 🙂

Château de Pazayac in winter
Château de Pazayac covered in snow

Step 2: Heat and seal the rooms that we use the most

Jan's office has gotten its wood burner, so Jan is cozy and warm when he works. The only thing missing yet, are door brush strips on his doors to the balcony. The wind currently has free reign to make his feet cold little clumps.

The kitchen is a room we use a lot, and thankfully, we have the new range cooker in there. Also on new electricity! When we gather to eat or cook, we usually start out with the oven on and the oven door open. A great heater!

Last year I put door brush strips all over the kitchen doors. Not just the bottom, where they should be. I also put them on the opening vertically, since no draught strip was big enough to fill the opening betweens the doors.

Step 3: Use moveable heaters when necessary

I don't spend as many hours in my office as Jan does in his, so there's no need for permanent heating. The Salon de Piano is only in use a couple of hours per day, so also: no permanent heating is necessary.

For situations like these, we have a few moveable heaters around. At this moment (end of November) we can get away with using heating ventilators. When winter really hits, we might switch those out to fuel burners, since those bring better heat.

I personally dislike the heating ventilators, because I'm a lizard in human form, and without a direct source of heating I will. be. cold. So warm wind blown on me? Feels like wind anyway! 
With two small kids around, the fuel burners aren't ideal either. We can never really relax, since the girls tend to run around unbridled and well... You get the picture.

It takes a bit of effort to figure out what to heat and when, but it works for us! With the routine in the girl's school life, we can anticipate a bit and make it comfortable for them.

And some rooms don't get heated at all unless it starts to freeze badly (inside, I mean). Our bedroom for example. We like sleeping in a cold room, so why should we heat it before bed? And in the morning we're only there for such a short time that it seems a waste to heat it.

I'll say one thing though: getting out of bed in the morning is a true hero's effort when it's near freezing in your room! I get why medieval people hardly ever washed. No one wants to get naked and wet when it is that cold!

Step 4: Wear sweaters, thermo socks, shawls, and indoor coats as needed

Since the first step of wintering in a château is to 'layer up', this maybe should have been listed as step 1.

The first winter here, I quickly discovered that my Dutch winter clothing did not do the job in an old French castle. You need woolen sweaters, long-sleeved T-shirts, shawls and proper socks. Also: padded rain boots need to be added to your wardrobe when you live in a castle.

When the girls are home for the day, they wear ski undergarments under their regular clothing. Jan and I both live in our bodywarmers.

But there is one thing that I forgot to mention here: you get used to the cold. By now a room feels warm when it's 16 degrees Celcius (60F). When we're out to visit friends, we wear lots of layers, because we need to strip down in a regularly heated house!

People often shudder when we tell them about our indoor temperatures, but honestly, it is very doable. The temperature doesn't drop suddenly, so we adjust to the cold.


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