We don’t get frigid temperatures in Malta but our winters do give us a fair share of cold winds blowing in from the sea around us with temperatures feeling much nippier than the numbers on the barometer. Needless to say, Maltese homes tend to feel chilly exceptionally cold with numbing temperatures having to be endured both indoors and out.
Stone buildings in Malta are in fact rarely adorned with central heating. Rather, air conditioning units double up as room heaters in winter, unless one can get a wood burning stove installed. The latter can become an expensive but welcome and heart-warming addition to any home.
But apart from the fact that several homes can be pretty large, there is also the consideration that not all rooms can be south facing. This means cold rooms can coexist back to back with warmer rooms on the same floor. The former might need further hands-on attention to counteract the cold.
Aerate your home every day
Keeping your home shut in an airtight condition will not keep the cold out. In actual fact aerating your home every day, with every room being allowed to have a fresh input of air, will lessen the coldness considerably. This is most effective on days when the north dry wind blows over the islands, providing a relief from the cold-retaining humid atmosphere created by southern winds.
Use a de-humidifier in the rooms which are north facing, very humid and cold or based on ground floor level. De-humidifiers really do work to absorb water droplets from the air, and after a few hours, a room will feel tangibly warmer. Do avoid sleeping in the same room where a de-humidifier is in action.
Curtains need to be thick and possibly layered so as to avoid your room losing heat via windows even when these are closed. Always remember that natural fabrics work better at counteracting the cold, whilst synthetic curtains will only work to screen rather than warm up a room. Also, keep in mind that even in winter, when the sun shines, it is better to let it stream in and warm up your room, rather than shutting it out.
Add an extra layer of gypsum
Exceptionally cold rooms can be helped to retain the heat with some drastic measures. Some very good results can be achieved by getting reliable masons or gypsum specialists to cover thin external walls with sheets of gypsum boarding from the inside. This double layer will behave pretty much like insulation.
Marble? No, thanks
Cover cold marble floors with plush carpets or go a step further by covering them with wood parquet flooring.
Double glaze windows
Invest on good double glaze windows and make sure the double glazing is done by professional glaziers.
If you can afford it, get under-floor heating fitted into key rooms such as bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms.
Draught-proof doors and windows
Make sure doors and windows are draught-proof. Where draughts can be felt, use makeshift rolled up old blankets to block the cold air coming in. If you are feeling crafty, make your own sausage-shaped draught-blockers.
Keep small fleece blankets available in spaces where you tend to sit around – people like to feel cosy while watching TV or working at the computer.