Five tips for surviving winter in Portugal

View from my home in central Portugal on a rare frosty morning. I had to wrap my little orange tree to protect it from the cold weather.

Portuguese houses are usually built of stone which makes them great places to live in the summer, but damp and chilly in the winter. My first winter was a bit rough, but I have learned a lot about how to adapt. Here are some tips from what I have learned.

1. Be prepared for rain. Although temperatures here in Portugal are generally milder than many parts of the US, it usually rains a lot from November onward. Stone houses stay wonderfully cool in the summer, but they can feel freezing in the winter.

2. Electricity is expensive in Portugal, so people use dryers sparingly. Take advantage of any sunny dry day to hang out your washing. When I lived in Ireland, my Irish neighbors would call a sunny breezy day “A great drying day.”

3. Buy a dehumidifier. With all that rain, the interior of most Portuguese homes gets very damp. Mildew can be a problem and it smells unpleasant. Hanging out your bedding on a dry sunny day is a good idea too. That is a custom in many northern European countries.

4. Open windows whenever you can. Even a small amount of fresh air wafting through a room helps combat the effects of dampness.

5. Electric blower heaters can be costly to run. Heaters that use butane gas provide a quick source of heat for those chilly mornings, and they have rollers so they can be moved to different rooms. Initially you have to buy the gas bottle, after that you just pay for the refill. At the moment a refill costs around 24 Euros. The heaters can be purchased for around 70 Euros.

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