How do you keep warm on a narrowboat?

Staying warm on a narrowboat in winter can be a charming challenge, but with the right tips, you can enjoy a cozy and comfortable night afloat. Here are some ideas to keep the chill at bay:

Heating systems:

  • Multi-fuel stove: This classic choice provides warmth and ambiance with coal, wood, or smokeless fuels. Learn proper fire management, ensure good ventilation, and keep a supply of fuel handy.
  • Diesel-fired central heating: Similar to a home boiler, this offers convenient temperature control with radiators and hot water. Consider brands like Ebersp√§cher, Webasto, or Mikuni.
  • Electric heaters: If moored with shore power, portable heaters can offer supplemental warmth. Choose energy-efficient models for best value.


Insulation and draught-proofing:

  • Thick curtains: Block drafts and retain heat with insulating fabrics on windows and hatches.
  • Draft proofing: Seal gaps around doors, windows, and hatches with strips or caulking.
  • Reflective window insulation: Install temporary reflectors to bounce heat back into the boat.
  • Loft and bilge insulation: Improve overall thermal efficiency by insulating these often-exposed areas.

Layering and warmth hacks:

  • Dress in layers: Start with thermals, add warm fleece or jumpers, and top with a windproof and waterproof outer layer.
  • Warm slippers and socks: Keep your feet cozy with thick socks and snug slippers.
  • Hot water bottle: A classic comfort to cuddle up with or tuck under blankets.
  • Wool blankets: Natural wool is excellent at retaining heat and creating a cozy atmosphere.
  • Hot drinks and food: Soups, stews, and warming beverages keep you from the inside out.

General tips:

  • Plan ahead: Ensure your heating system is serviced before winter and stock up on fuel.
  • Dry your clothes inside: Damp clothes can make you feel colder, so invest in a small dehumidifier or dry clothes outside using lines or a portable drying rack.
  • Move around: Stay active to keep your blood pumping and generate warmth. Exercise or simple chores can help ward off chills.
  • Keep windows slightly open: Maintaining some ventilation even in cold weather prevents condensation buildup and keeps the air fresh.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Dress warmly and venture out for walks or bike rides on sunny days. The fresh air and sunshine can be invigorating.

By combining these tips and adjusting them to your specific boat and preferences, you can create a warm and inviting haven on your narrowboat throughout the winter. Remember, embracing the cozy winter charm of your floating home can be just as enjoyable as the summer sunshine!

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