Monday, January 10, 2011

How We're Staying Warm This Winter

It's been a pretty cold winter around here. Tonight the temps are supposed to be in the low 20s and tomorrow we may end up with five inches of snow or more. Brrrrr. Here's how we have been staying warm this winter AND saving money at the same time:
  • We have an adjustable/automatic thermostat which we set at 55 degrees from 10pm to 7am (the time we are sleeping) and 65 degrees from 7am to 10pm.

  • When we do leave the house during the day, we always remember to set the heat back to 60 degrees. No use keeping the house toasty warm when no one is home to enjoy it! (note: we have a note on the door that says 'TURN DOWN HEAT' so we won't forget to do this).

  • We wear sweaters or sweatshirts when we are home (otherwise I would want the heat set to 70 because I am usually cold all winter). I wear heavy socks as well.

  • I don't mind having the heat set so low at night because we have a couple extra blankets on the bed which keep us snugly warm.

  • When we are home we usually hibernate in our bedroom. Our bedroom is fairly big so besides the bed we have a sofa as well as a TV and our computer tables in there so it is kind of like a living room anyway. The benefit to this is that we can (again) set the heat back to 60 or even 55 and use a small, $7 space heater from Walmart which heats the room up almost instantly. It's better, and cheaper, than heating the whole house when we aren't even using the rest of the house.

  • We are often out during the day. This allows us to set the heat down to 60 degrees (I hate coming home to a freezing cold house which takes an hour to warm up so 60 is a good compromise temperature). We then enjoy "free" heat at whatever place we happen to be at.

  • When we are home we generally hang out in the kitchen. During this time we are usually cooking a meal such as lunch or dinner and at the same time I like to use the oven to bake which also helps heat up the kitchen.

And some more things about keeping warm:

  • Choose your house carefully. Our house is a big tri-level and it didn't dawn on me when we were buying the house that this design lets all of the heat immediately head up to the ceiling thus the lower areas of the house always seem cold and the heat tends to run continuously because the temperature control is on the mid level so it never senses that it is warm enough to shut off.

  • I remember that when I lived in an apartment during college that I hardly ever had to turn on the heat as the heat that came from all of the units below and next to me seemed to keep my apartment warm.

  • Be sure you insulate and weatherstrip! Our first house was nearly 100 years old and you could practically watch the heat head straight up the stairs and out the roof because it had literally NO insulation. Eventually we added insulation in the attic, walls, and between the floor joists which, along with installing new insulated windows made a huge difference in our heat/energy consumption.

  • A small house is cheaper to heat!

  • My friend has a small house with a wood stove in the middle of his home as well as a nice wood lot out back and heats his home for free each winter. Of course he has to go chop down and dry the wood himself, but his wood stove keeps the entire house cozy warm all winter.

  • Never use combustion appliances to heat your home! Things like barbecue grills and other appliances that give off heat yet are designed to be used OUTSIDE should never be used inside because you can die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • If you can't pay your heating bill, call 211 and see if there are any local agencies that can pay this bill for you. A community service agency in our area coordinates a program which pays one utility bill per year for families in need which can really come in handy during the dead of winter.

  • If you have no heat in your home at all (ie: the gas has been shut off, etc) consider going to a warming shelter when it is bitterly cold. Our city opens shelters for the homeless and anyone else who doesn't have/can't afford heat in their home. People can stay over night and even get a free meal at these places (call 211 for shelters in your area).

Stay safe and keep warm!

1 comment:

  1. I have an electric throw on the couch which I live under all winter (gets below zero many days). We have a timer on the baseboard heater in the bathroom which is a godsend for the cold mornings, we turn off the baseboard heat at night, low during the day even when we are gone and most evenings. Rarely does it get over 62, layers of socks and clothing and my "blanket"