Saturday, January 16, 2016


Most of the apartments in our building have been very cold lately, so the heating technician came yesterday. He found nothing wrong with our boiler and suggested we try bleeding our radiators in sequence, starting with the lowest floor and moving up to the top floor. So we did, and lo — they were full of air and our apartments are now more comfortable. We are closer to 70 degrees now, although the thermostat is still set much higher.

Our next step is to seal the cracks around the floor and windows, but first we have to find a material that Harris won't eat. Harris loves to eat plastic bags and tape, for example. (Following advice from a friend, I'm growing cat grass for him, in case he craves plastic because of some nutritional deficiency.) Harris and Possum both like to play with rope caulking, for example, pulling it off the windows and carrying it about like a prized snaky victim. So we will investigate alternatives.

I have taken off my hat and fingerless gloves and stopped wearing all of my clothes to bed. Our bedroom is still drafty and it takes time to warm up enough to fall asleep, even under flannel sheets, the toastiest down comforter we could find, a cat, and a heavy coverlet. My latest solution is Uniqlo's Heattech long underwear. While you can pay a small fortune for silk or other high-tech fabrics, this is the wallet-friendly synthetic option, with prices ranging from about $9.90 for a top to $24.90 for their heaviest leggings/long underwear. I'd gotten some for my husband for Christmas, which he liked, so I decided to try it last weekend, and shopped at the Faneuil Hall store. Since then I've been living in Heattech practically 24/7.

I got two pairs of basic leggings, thin enough to fit under skinny jeans while making them much warmer:

Mine are fur-camouflaging heather gray, of course, not black. They also make all sorts of knitted leggings and an "extra-warm" version I may try for sleeping and layering under long skirts.

I also got two turtlenecks, including a spiffy striped one on sale for $9.90. Uniqlo offers many styles of camisoles, tanks, and tees, but if warmth is the point, I'll always choose a turtleneck. The Heattech versions are sleek and opaque, and come in several colors. (They also make fleece turtlenecks but I thought they had a creepy texture; I'm picky about synthetics.)

After I chose my leggings and turtlenecks, I discovered their ultra light down jackets, on sale for $70. I never like puffy, bulky coats, but these are just the opposite.

These jackets (and vests) are water- and wind resistant as well as warm, but they have a surprisingly elegant look and seem to weigh less than a cell phone. They are merely thin nylon, air, and down. They pack easily into a very small sack you can stow in your bag:

They fit as easily as a sweater under a coat but are a much warmer inner layer. I picked the hoodless version, which has a high neck, and cozy, extra-long sleeves that almost cover my hands. I went up a size so I could layer a heavy sweater and/or a fleece jacket underneath it, but it still has a nice, fitted look. It fits under my Barbour waxed-cotton jackets and makes them suitable for winter. (For the record, they are made with down that comes from suppliers who have pledged to collect it humanely.)

The only hard part was choosing a color; there are nineteen. I finally gave up after narrowing it to four, including a couple I had to order online (free shipping). I will try them on at home at my leisure and return the rejects to the store. They weigh almost nothing so carrying three coats is a snap.

I hesitate to report that I'm looking forward to a nice, big, fat snowstorm now.


  1. We also live in a draft old building and last year I buckled down and ordered inner storm windows from here: Nice small business owners, delivered the windows personally and showed us how to install them. I'm happy to report we're much warmer now since these windows are very airtight. The only thing that might not work for you is if you're moving in a year or two, whether you want to spend the money on these now, since the windows are custom sized.


  2. well at least you'll be prepared for the snowstorm.


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