How to Keep Warm on Waste Heat




About: Aiming to get a Show and tell maker fair going in March 2009. Anyone in UK or willing to travel, please let me know.

This is a description of a project to save energy, by my late mother who was the thriftiest person EVER. Sadly I dont have any pictures to share but I am sure you will get the idea easily enough. I thought I had a photo of her room but a modest search has failed to find it so far.

Step 1: What You Need

Your bed

Your favourite entertainment equipment, which might include tv, radio, hifi, computer, reading light etc.

Poles - they could be the very stout bamboo poles or half to one inch diameter wood dowelling. or any small section wood you can scrounge from anything. You will need 4 poles for the uprights which will need to be about 5 feet long (1.6m) and 2 which are the length of the bed plus about 2 feet (0.6m) and 2 which are the width of the bed.

Any fabric - thick dark fabric is best. For a single bed you will probably need the following pieces: top = 4x6 ft, 2 ends of 4x5 ft, 1 side of 5x8 ft, 2 part sides of 4x5ft. see basic pattern in the picture.

Decorations of your choice - found items are ideal

Step 2: What You Do

You are essentially going to make a low-tech cheapo four poster bed, like in medieval times.

Tie the 5-ft poles to the legs of the bed - zipties would be ideal. These will be the four uprights at the corners of the bed.

Lash the other poles to the tops of these uprights, such that the extra length of the longest poles extend at the foot of your bed.

Make the fabric into a ceiling and curtains to go all round the bed. The curtain at the side you get out of your bed should be in two halves so you can easily part it to get in and out of bed, but the rest can be a single run round the other 3 sides. Essentially you are making a gigantic fabric box to drop over the top of the framework you have just fixed to the bed. It is not necessary to have the fabric run along the poles at all.

Install your entertainment items at the foot of the bed, WITHIN but not touching the curtains. This is essential.

Decorate to your choice inside and out. My mum was an egyptologist so her bed tent looked like some bedouin encampment.

Step 3: How You Save Energy

Now you have a cosy tent in your bedroom or wherever, with all your entertainment inside it.

This is particuarly good if you are living alone on a low fixed income as you basically retire to bed with a good book, CD, DVD, blog of your choice and the energy from the TV, light, computer or hifi heats up the inside of your tent. You will be amazed at how much heat these things produce. In fact you will need to be careful that the curtains around the foot of the bed are not touching all the kit, as we dont want a fire.

My mum did this for years and was going to go on the local TV until her pals at Age Concern pointed out that if the UK government got the idea that poor pensioners could keep warm this way, they would stop the annual cold weather energy payments to them.



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    13 Discussions


    10 years ago

    This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!


    2 years ago

    Expanding on your idea, I like Christmas-tree style string lighting, which can give off great amounts of heat, adequately heating a small room during the daytime in 50-degree weather.


    9 years ago on Step 3

     hooray for freedom of press, am i right? good instrucable, its practical, and costs as much as using things that would be running anyway...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I have to open a window an turn the extractor-fan on in my office. A significant portion of the heat is coming from the computers, but the rest is coming from inconsiderate peeps who want to make the most of "free" heat by turning their radiators up as far as they will go...

    Its a good idea, but how does it handle moisture? I imagine a person breathing in there, and think where otherwise the water might condense on windows you might end up with mouldy-drapes. Thrift tends to exclude draughts and with it ventilation.



    6 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    things that make me think that moisture shouldn't be a big issue 1. unlike a mosquito net, the tent is made up of draped flaps, not a solid, stitched cube. if it got too hot/stuffy you could just adjust a flap here or there so that more air could get through. 2. machines give off dry heat. 3. flaps can be lifted up over top of canopy to allow tent to air out completely when not in use. 4. depending on how heavy a fabric you chose, this should be pretty easily laundered. and if you did choose a heavy fabric, i can think of a myriad of ways that you could approach it so that, disassembled, it would be in manageable size(s) for a standard washing machine. i live i now live an arid climate so having a little spot that got a titch more humid than usual would be a good thing. anyhoo. for my part, i think that this is a fabulous idea. the house i live in now is painfully drafty and just keeping it heated enough to keep the pipes from freezing costs a mint. seeing as how i spend so much of the winter curled up under the blankets anyway, it's not a terrible idea to just build myself a nice little nest. i could even see putting pockets into the inside of the canopy as a place to keep a reading book or a box of tissues.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    This was the original idea behind 4-poster beds wasn't it? I've known draught-free environments get damp and mouldy, which is why I inquired. L


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    yes, i assume that's why the author said, in the first line of step 2 "You are essentially going to make a low-tech cheapo four poster bed, like in medieval times." i guess i just don't see the instructions as creating a unit that is inherently draught-free. i suppose my only fear would be circumstances involving those who have severely limited mobility, or my old friend ron who was so hygienically impaired that he would go six months and a musty summer without washing his bedlinens.