Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strategies for keeping warm without breaking the bank

I try to be frugal with my money and minimize the heaviness of my tread on the earth. This involves saving water in the shower and the washer, recycling, reusing, buying secondhand and composting what I can. However, I live in the Midwest and that can involve high costs in the winter due to heating. I will outline my techniques for keeping warm and not overtaxing my checkbook.

Keep the thermostat low. For me, a setting of 64 degrees Farenheit when I am home is sufficient for warmth. I know people who keep it warmer and those who keep it colder, but this is the most comfortable conservative setting for me.
Use a programmable thermostat. When I am not home, the house does not have to be kept warm. I love my cats but they have a nice fur coat and can survive lower temperatures without adverse effects. When I am gone or sleeping at night, my programmable thermostat lowers the temperature to 55 or 56 degrees F. In the morning, it kindly rises to 64 so I can shower in relative comfort. When I come home after work, the thermostat brings up the temperature to 64 from the daytime low and keeps it there until bedtime.
Put on a sweater or a blanket. This is simple but really adds to the comfort. If the thermostat is going to be lower and I generally am reading or using my laptop, I need some extra layers to keep warm. I have a blanket handy to put over my lap and always wear my bathrobe in the morning. I was stunned one day last winter when I saw I man in shorts outside letting the dog out. Wearing shorts in winter is ridiculous. Wearing sweaters is practical and increases comfort.
Insulate the windows. I have single pane windows and energy efficient they are not. Therefore, I apply plastic film to the inside of the windows every winter. It gives another layer of insulation to keep the room warmer and is likely to cut down on drafts. I have thrermodrapes in my living room and Roman shades in my bedroom. I purchased these to help increase energy efficiency and they are working well. The other windows have blinds that came with the house and there is definitely more air infiltration. Consider throwing a blanket over the window to keep heat in and cold out. The more layers insulating the warm room from the cold air, the better.
Use a down comforter and an electric blanket for the bed. My down comforter has been wonderful with cold weather, but my skin did not like the cold bed linens when first climbing into bed. The down comforter kept me warm all night and made lowering the thermostat worth it. The drawback during the cold months is it took half a minute to get to warmed up under the covers. I purchased an electric blanket off craigslist and for those single digit nights, it is a wonderful asset. Plus having a blanket and down comforter on the bed is quite toasty without the electric heat. The electric blanket targets the heat where I want it and warms the bed so I do not shiver under the covers.
Use supplementary heat judiciously. I purchased two oil-filled electric heaters from craigslist, a running theme in my life. The one in my living room is usually dormant, but sometimes, the lap blanket is not quite enough. I use the electric radiator to supplement the heat in the room I am in, and it is enough to take the edge off the cold. I rarely use the radiator to keep costs down but occasional use does not perturb my electric bill.
Wear slippers. I wear slippers even with socks. One reason is I like to keep my socks clean. The other is to keep my feet warm. If my feet are warm, I feel warmer overall. Any extra insulation on my feet can only be good. Plus it saves wear on shoes and that can save money.

Consider using any of these ideas to help keep a bit warmer this winter. Small steps can only help and reducing your fuel consumption to heat the house is a frugal measure and living a bit greener.

No comments:

Post a Comment