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What’s the best way to block up our chim­ney dur­ing cold weather? I’ve seen sites of­fer­ing plas­tic bal­loons, um­brel­las, felt and wool chim­ney “sheep”. Or should we just use an old pil­low?

The Guardian - - MONEY -

How about try­ing an old pil­low first and see­ing if it works? It won’t cost you any­thing apart from 10 min­utes of your time. It might be an idea to leave some­thing in the grate to re­mind you it is there, though. Sala­man­der­tome In­stall a small su­per-ef­fi­cient wood­burn­ing stove. They have 80% ef­fi­ciency, so there is no smoke and vir­tu­ally no ash. We halved our gas bill and en­joy a warm glow­ing fire – very ro­man­tic! Vir­tualearth­man I thought about this last win­ter, only to dis­cover that there was al­ready a metal flap in my chim­ney which I now sim­ply close dur­ing the win­ter. I did how­ever make sure that there’s a car­bon monox­ide alarm in the room, and a warn­ing sign in front of the con­trols, just in case any­one is tempted to light the gas fire with the flap closed. Nick­Seplin Un­less you have suf­fi­cient air bricks on the ex­ter­nal walls of the room, never ob­struct the chim­ney com­pletely. I have sev­eral open chim­neys and, in the rooms I don’t in­tend to have an open fire in, I have in­stalled my own sys­tem: four small metal hooks placed just up in­side the chim­ney, two each side and as level as pos­si­ble, hold an old pil­low­case loosely stuffed with sheep’s wool. In the cen­tre of the strands of bright rib­bon with beads at their end. They dan­gle into the fire­place and are a vis­ual re­minder that the pil­low is there. The cost to me was nil. JayeKaye Years ago a chim­ney sweep sug­gested we fill a large bin liner with crum­pled news­pa­per and stuff this up a chim­ney that we did not use. It’s worked fine. ID5279121 We have a “chim­ney sheep” which is a stiff­ish pad about 5cm thick made of sheep wool. It has a small post fit­ted in the cen­tre which helps you po­si­tion it. It works and I like it be­cause it’s durable and will last sev­eral years. roth­ielass We had this prob­lem in our new house. At first, I stuffed an old cur­tain around the chim­ney as we do not use the gas fire. Then I read about the sheep’s wool “bungs”. I had an old sheep’s wool pil­low that had gone very lumpy so I made my own, com­plete with dan­gly rib­bons to re­mind you it is there. It works a treat and the room is lovely and warm – apart from the draughty win­dows! If you don’t hap­pen to have an sheep’s wool pil­low, I ex­pect any nat­u­ral fi­bre would do, as long as it breathes. ID567541 The spe­cially made in­flat­able bal­loons do work but cost way too much at about £18 each chim­ney. Ours have lasted four years so far. House­oflego We could not get the plas­tic bal­loons to stay in­side the chim­ney – they kept fall­ing down. It must de­pend on the shape of the bot­tom of the flue. We have had most suc­cess, in terms of not feel­ing draughts, with old pil­low­cases filled with rags (or you could use news­pa­per). Tid­dly­pomme Take it out on the night of 24-25 De­cem­ber. OK is this long enough Email your sug­ges­tions to money@ the­guardian.com or write to us at Money, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, Lon­don N1 9GU. And do you have a prob­lem read­ers could solve? Let us know.

A chim­ney sheep … tak­ing the chill out of draughty chim­neys?

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