January 13, 2017

Energy Efficiency in a German Home

In Germany the summer is HOT and the winter is COLD.  Nothing unusual, right?! But with the majority of the homes in Germany being tile flooring and made from cement-it can get REALLY cold in the winter.
The first winter here, we were freezing in our house.  A lot of German houses are made so there are doors throughout the house EVERYWHERE.  This means you can have the radiators on in one room of the house, and then close off the other parts of the house that aren't being used. 
However, our house is not made this way.  So, all of our heat rises to the upstairs.  This makes for a very chilly downstairs.  We would be in sweats and slippers our entire first winter here and were still cold.
-some German houses come with heated floors, which sounds lovely.  Other things to consider is if you have oil or electric heat.  We do not have heated floors and we have electric heat. 
So, our second winter I decided to do some research on cement walls and retaining heat in localized areas in the house.  The difference from the changes I made were drastic!   We couldn't believe it.  We used less heat and stayed warmer.
Here is what we did:
Since we did not have doors to close off our living room/dining room/great room combo downstairs, from the upstairs area, I made my own 'door'.
I used command hooks, a curtain rod, and a heavy black out curtain.

I also found out that the heat from our wall radiator was getting absorbed into our cement wall that it was mounted on.  Crazy, right?
So, I put tin foil on the wall in between the radiator.
The porcelain owl has water in it, that evaporates into the air and keeps the room from getting too dry.
Can you see it?:)
Here, let me help you.
It's such a small change, and yet we felt a HUGE difference in the temperature in our house.  The tin foil reflected the heat back into the room, instead of the concrete wall absorbing it.  The best part is that you can barely even see the tin foil. 

This was my solution to our winter chill.
But in the summer you can also save TON of money on your electricity by hanging your clothes up to dry.  On a hot summer day, I can get an entire load dried by the sun in 45 minutes.  It's crazy!

I love how this drying rack has little slots for your socks and smaller clothing-saves on space.

Also in the summer, keep those rolladens down so that you can keep the sunlight out and prevent your house from getting too hot.  Most European houses come with no air conditioning.  So, keeping the sunlight out is key to helping keep your house from becoming a sauna. 
These are rolladens. 
They are your black out shades that roll up and down on the outside of your window. 
Ours are cracked in this photo to let a little light into the living room.
You can 'trap' the cool morning air in the summertime too.  In the early morning, before it gets super hot, open your windows to get the cooler air to come inside.  To speed up getting the cool air inside, you can place a fan in front of the windows.  Have the fan pointed into the house to pull the cool outside air into your house.  Once it starts to warm up outside, close all the windows and trap the air inside your house.

Hope these tips help!
Do you have any solutions to keep your European house warm in the winter and cool in the summer?

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