Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saving On Heating Costs

I've had some requests to resurrect this blog and add more content.  So on that note here is today's post.

All my bills have gone up in the last 6 months but the paycheck has not.  I did pretty well at saving on cooling costs this summer but winter is upon us and even here on the Gulf Coast it can get cold.
Most everyone knows to keep your thermostat set low, as low as you can stand it.  But how do you keep warm enough to not complain?
First you must dress for the weather.  Layering your clothes is a great way to go.  And make sure they are loose layers.  I'm usually ok in slacks, long sleeved shirt and slippers at home.  If it gets colder I add fuzzy socks and a sweater.  If it gets to freezing temps I can add sweat pants and sweat shirt over regular pants and shirt and a sweater on top of that.  
Second, decide what rooms you really use and only heat those.  Close off the vents and close the doors to unused rooms.  I have a bath and 2 bedrooms that are rarely used and they are off their own hallway.  All vents and doors are closed  and I put up a curtain at the end of the hallway that enter my living room.  That also saves on cooling those rooms in the summer.  Just a simple curtain will do, make it match your window curtains if you want.  A great Victorian idea we need to bring back!
Third, if you have ceiling fans you can set them to reverse at a slow speed to push the warm air back down to the area you are sitting in.  This means it will spin clockwise in winter.  A good way to remember is clockwise while we are on regular time and counter-clockwise while we are on daylight savings time.
Fourth, you can utilize space heaters to only heat the room you are in.  I have a small electric oscillating heater I bought at Dollar General for less than $20.  I only use it in the room I am currently in and it keeps me pretty toasty without using a lot of electricity.  Please be cautious as to what kind of space heater you use and make sure to use it properly with any required ventilation.  If you need to crack a window for ventilation then choose a south facing one to avoid the colder winds coming from the north.
Fifth, use a quilt on your bed!  Grandma wasn't just saving money by making her own quilt and re-using those fabric scraps, they are much warmer than blankets.  You need it to be loose over you and not pulled tight, your body heat will fill the space between bed and quilt with warmth and you will be toasty all night.  I believe it has a lot to do with the insulation quality of the quilt which is made of fabric, batting and fabric.  Heavier is not always warmer.  If you have no quilt but you do have a sleeping bag, use that.  You can always sleep inside it even if you are in your bed.  Flannel sheets are much warmer feeling than cotton, check  your local thrift shops! 
Sixth, but maybe this should have been first, add insulation.  Check for drafts and insulate and caulk where you can and add weatherstripping if needed to doors and windows.  If you have no restrictions in your neighborhood then spritz your windows with water and cover them with cut to size bubble wrap for insulation.  You can often get bubble wrap for free from sites like craigslist or freecycle.  Alternatively you can pull down your shades at night to keep out drafts and raise them during the day to let in the sun's warmth.  Grandma used to swap out her light and lacy summer curtains for heavy and lined winter drapes for good reason and we can do the same.
Seventh, if you are going to be home, make it a day of cooking and baking.  That extra heat will be welcome on a cold day, especially if it came from a pot of homemade stew and homebaked bread or cookies.  When you are done baking leave the oven door open to utilize that heat as well.  I used to live in an apartment that had no heat source in the kitchen so I just turned on the gas burners.  No worries about ventilation, the place was 80 years old and very drafty, but do take care if you need to do this and never leave the room unoccupied with burners on, especially if you have children.  If you have an electric stove you could turn on the oven and leave the door open but I'm not sure how frugal that would be.  Also you can boil water in a pot to add humidity which makes you feel warmer - not much need for that here on the Gulf Coast - this one is quite frugal if you have a woodburning stove.
Eighth, if you have a pet like a dog or cat and they like to snuggle, indulge them.  A dog or cat's body temperature is much higher than a human's (100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and they are portable heaters that cost very little.   I used to have one cat that would sleep under the covers with me so I stayed nicely warm all night and so did he.
Ninth, try a heating pad to warm up your bed 30 minutes before you crawl in, just like a bed warming pan of hot coals like your great grandma used to use.  A hot water bottle at your feet works well too.  If you do use a heating pad, only use it for a short period of time, it is not meant to be slept with, would save you no money and could cause a fire. 
Tenth,  don't be afraid of looking silly wearing clothes to bed.  A sweatshirt and sweat pants are much warmer than a cotton gown.  Also wear your fuzzy socks to bed.  A knit cap on your head in frigid weather  works nicely too, we lose a lot of heat out the top of our heads and it's a good old idea we have lost sight of.  Remember the line from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' about "Mother in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter's nap."
Eleventh, some other ideas I have read about.  If you have radiators you can add a metal panel behind it to bounce that heat back into the room rather than letting the wall soak it up.  For fun put up a tent in the middle of the room and only heat that.  Think your house is cold? go outside for a bit and it will feel heavenly when you come back in.
So there's 11 ways to stay warm while trying to save some money on heating, at least for those of us without a woodburning stove or fireplace.  If you have more ideas then please share in the comments.

Linking to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways


Gorges Smythe said...

Good post. I hope you DO start blogging again.

Angela said...

Great tips! My mom does most if not all of those things you mentioned to stay warm. Her furnace broke a few years ago and she relies on an electric heater that I bought her. She has a fireplace but it makes it hard for her to breath so she only uses it when it gets extremely cold outside. She also hangs a sheet or blanket at the bottom of the steps to keep the warm air downstairs where she mostly stays. I bought her some cuddle duds that she wears also that really makes a difference in staying warm. When she worked and would come home and the house would be cold she said she would put her blanket in the dryer for a little bit to get it warm.

ladyhawthorne said...

Great ideas Angela! Thanks for visiting.

Ralph Goff said...

A little advice from Sask. "Long johns", thermal underwear.

Domestic & General Insulation Ltd said...

All sound advice. I agree that the insulation point should be first on the list, but that would be expected considering the fact that I work for an insulation company!