I am nesh!


Definition of 'nesh'

So said my husband to me one day. He said that you city people (London born and bred) don’t seem to have the fortitude to cope with cold. Having a) never heard of the word before and b) accusing him of making words up, I now know he is right, I am!


Over the years, I have lived in homes where air vents were blocked, chimney breasts removed, double-glazed, triple-glazed, draught proof, insulated etc, most done by a previous generation. I became used to warm homes. With energy companies and the government throwing money at insulation schemes, should we be revisiting why the Victorians believed ventilation was essential to not only let buildings breathe, but also to dilute the air of contagions that can impact our health and well-being?


For many a winter, I began the day wearing long sleeves and by the afternoon, I put on another layer or a throw over me. I loved being cosy, it’s like a thermal hug. But then my husband would wander in wearing a T-shirt and I’d be left wondering how it’s possible that he never feels the cold. I also noticed my country-born friends leaving their windows slightly open in the dead of winter which meant I always needed to pack extra layers when visiting them. And if I kept my coat on when we entered a warm country pub, my friends would laugh at me. They were taught, growing up, to remove layers immediately when entering indoors as it helps to make them hardier.


So why am I mentioning this? Because this started my journey into Indoor Air Quality.


Our current home has thick walls and was empty for some time when we bought it - suffering from damp, woodworm, and stale air with all chimney breasts blocked and the windows sealed. It was during this time that I learned everything I needed to know about clean air and letting homes breathe. But if I was going to ventilate more, I needed to toughen up and learn cope with cold air.


Two of our bedrooms have MVHR systems under the window so we added a cheap humidistat to automatically switch it on when humidity is high. When the kitchen was renovated, we removed the recirculating kitchen fan and installed a fresh air duct. In rooms without air bricks, windows are left slightly ajar, even if for 10-minute periods throughout the day.


I conditioned myself to start the winter day wearing short sleeves. I still need to slip another layer on in the afternoon, but it is one less layer than I used to wear. Fresh air indoors is something I am more obsessed by, no matter what the weather is like outside. My Air Quality Monitor is checked regularly for PMs, CO2 and TVOC and when levels are high, I know to take action and ventilate.


By ventilating more, I am letting my home breathe and also diluting any contaminants that might be in the air indoors.


So, am I still nesh? Hell, yes but much less than I was before 😊. I vote we move this word back into common parlance and strike a balance between allowing our homes to breathe and thermal comfort.