To be fair, the idea of “winterising” your home here doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is likely little chance of frozen water pipes, icy drafts and snowdrifts that cool down the house just being against the window and back doors.
Central heating is a rarity in Hong Kong in most flats — and not a necessity for the most part — and so it comes down to finding way to warm up the house (or yourself) for a few short weeks of the year, no matter how uncomfortable those weeks may be.
For those of us seeking more permanent, though seasonably usable options, there is underfloor heating, which is quickly gaining traction here even though it’s still seen mostly in new developments (Town Gas does floor heating), but it’s not totally out of the question in clever redesigns. A slew of towel warming racks that make the usually-heat free bathroom more comfortable is a micro-solution that requires less substantial work than ripping up floors. Sadly the prevalence of concrete walls makes insulation nearly irrelevant, but if you are redesigning and creating your own walls for some reason it is possible to find standard insulation suppliers in the SAR. Additionally, just a few years ago indoor fireplaces were a reasonably new appliance but now come in a range of sizes, styles and prices by the likes of EcoSmart Fire and BB Fires. They have fire in them so they give off heat.
In Hong Kong, space heaters remain the single most common way to heat the home for short periods of time. Most are compact enough to store for the other 48 weeks of the year but they vary wildly in energy consumption. To maximise efficiency, try and keep extra doors shut — the same way you’d keep power bills down in the summer — and concentrate the warmth where you physically are. And heat rises, so if you have a space heater and a ceiling fan, the combination can do wonders for keeping the room cosy. The fan on reverse draws heat down and re-circulates it before it escapes through the ceiling.
Last but not least there are a few design tricks that can be employed too, that also give you a good reason to fit out the home with an autumn/winter design theme. If you do feel like the air outside is cold (it’s usually not), cover the windows with heavier curtains or drapes to act as simple insulation, and throw rugs (natural wools work best) do the same thing for cold floors, particularly in the bathroom. From layout perspective bear in mind that it’s the walls that are coldest come January, bringing new meaning to the phrase “stone cold,” so where possible pull any furniture you use regularly way from them and float it in the room. The closer you sit to everyone else the warmer you’ll be too. On a final note, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to heat the home is to heat yourself. Linens in flannel, a few pairs of thick socks and the right clothing indoors make a world of difference. But if worse does come to worst there’s always Thailand for three weeks.