A Winter's Tale, Part 2

It really started about two years ago, when we had insulation stuck onto the outside of the house. Tako and his team came to our villa in Kalotina and they started sticking large polystyrene blocks onto all of the exterior walls. Then they put a plastic mesh on top of the blocks and covered that with the yellow-coloured plaster. It looked so much better, as the old white paint was decidedly shabby and, much more importantly, it made the house wonderfully cool in the summer and, we hope, warm in the winter too. The insulation also made the house much quieter inside, as external noises were muffled.

The middle of the house could be bitterly cold in the winter, as heat escaped under or round the front door. The solution to that problem was to fit another external door. As well as keeping in the warmth, the second front door makes us feel much more secure and it is a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of breaking in.

Another important step when preparing for winter’s icy blast is for your dear wife to go to the numerous second-hand shops in Sofia, where she can buy for you an amazingly warm “lumberjack” shirt. It is a bit like wearing a duvet. However, there is one more thing that is going to keep the whole house warm and toasty when the temperature outside is below zero: fuel.
A warm blogger wearing his special winter shirt

Sacks of pellets, ready for the boiler
We have two main types of fuel for heating, wood pellets and firewood (logs). The good news about the wood pellets is that they are very dry, with almost no water content, and it is easier to buy them and transport them because they come in 15 kg plastic sacks. The bad news is that a sack costs about 9 leva (and that is about 4.5 euros) and one sack will not last you very long. If you are heating a whole house, then perhaps you might get through one sack every day or maybe two, if the weather is really cold. 

Firewood, on the hand, is messy and it takes up a lot of space. We had three or four cubic metres of firewood that was left over when the fruit trees were cut down. This was done about fourteen years ago, when we first bought the house. This wood was not cut into manageable pieces, so I need to buy the Einhell bench saw and finish the job myself. Since then, we have also bought another five cubic metres of firewood from a builder supplies merchant in Slivnitsa, at 90 leva a cubic metre.

So why have two different methods of heating the house? Well, the firewood will heat the sitting room, where we have a wood burning stove, and we also have another wood burner in the kitchen that we can use for cooking. These two stoves, however, are not really going to heat the whole house. On the other hand, the central heating system is based on the pellet burning boiler in the kitchen. This is a very effective system for heating every room, but it relies on electricity for the fan and for the electric pump to push the hot water around the pipes to the radiators. In other words, the central heating system will not work if there is a power cut and there is no electricity. Power cuts can be quite frequent (and long) during the winter months in Bulgaria.



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