Heating costs: How low can you go?

November 5, 2010

World record setter: Aniket Chindak

I have a reputation in my social circle for being unnaturally cold (freezing really). I not only feel cold, but I am really cold (my nails even turn blue). I carry a sweater around with me everywhere, no matter what time of year it is. In the summer my family calls me Linus! Whenever I visit they joke about turning the thermostat up for me. They drape the bed with extra blankets and I always need them.

So it may come as a real shock to know that I am too cheap to turn the heat on in my own home. It’s not that we live in a warmer place either. We’ve brought the plants in to protect them from frost and we wear our winter coats to take out the trash. It’s officially cold…outside.

How can this be managed? Well, first let me admit that I am blessed with my equal in pinching a penny until it bleeds. We challenge each other to a friendly match of temperature limbo every winter. How low can you go? I am always the first one to break, but I’m getting better at this game. There is an exception, several actually. We keep the minimum at 50°F to protect our home from damage. We also heat our home for guests, because we want them to come back and we don’t expect other people to find our eco-antics amusing.

So how do I stay warm?

Image by kwinton at SXC

  • I drink hot tea
  • I microwave a heating pad
  • I take a hot shower
  • I blow dry my hair
  • I cook (a lot)
  • I do the dishes (in hot water)
  • I do housework
  • I move around
  • I dry a load of clothes
  • I wear layers
  • I have many blankets
  • I light a lot of candles
  • My cat lays in my lap
  • My computer lays in my lap
  • I wear a hat, scarf, and warm slippers
  • I have a heated mattress pad
  • I have a hot water bottle
  • I have a space heater in the bathroom
  • I close off rooms we don’t use
  • I wash my hands with warm water
  • I let the sunshine in
  • I run errands
  • I cuddle

Some of these things keep me warm but many of them actually heat up the house too. My body heat alone raises it a notch. I don’t expect anyone to join us in our game, although it would be great for the environment and your budget if you did. Instead I would just like to encourage you to lower your heating costs by trying some of the things listed above to keep yourself and your house toasty this year.

How low can you go? I’m already breaking my last year’s threshold of 62! Have any more tips to keep me in the game?


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9 Responses to “Heating costs: How low can you go?”

  1. defendtucson Says:

    I find going outside when you are cold for a few minutes, and then you come in and the house feels warm. It’s all relativity but it works. Also I have heard great things about silk long underwear.

    • Frances Says:

      You are so right! I’ve noticed when I go outside to do laundry (the washer and dryer are in the shop), the house feels so warm and cozy when I get back. I would LOVE to have silk longies too. My fleece ones make everything so bulky.


  2. Wonderful blog entry.

    Last year I set the furnace to 55 degrees, but I live in a place with lots of sunshine that heats the house in the winter. It is only 55 at night and in the morning. The morning is the hardest and I use a space heater in the bathroom in the mornings. I plan to do the same this year, maybe even going with 50 degrees if the thermostat will go that low.

    • Frances Says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad we’re not alone! I’m with you on the space heater. It takes the morning edge off when you’re getting dressed for the day. Good luck with your goal for this winter. I’m not sure I will make it to 50 before I cave but every degree helps!

  3. Cliona Says:

    I love this post! And you’re definitely not alone! I keep a fluffy blanket on the armchair just for when I’m watching tv, and then the puppy usually jumps in my lap to help keep me warm too :) I’m intrigued by the idea of long silk underwear…might have to make an investment because I love my long-sleeved shirts under sweaters. x


  4. I am married to a wonderful man who happens to be a Tenderfoot when it comes to temperature. His way, we would only experience wild temperature changes from 68F to 72F, all year long, except occasionally 75F for swimming :). On the other hand, as air conditioning dependent as I am, I can’t stand turning on the heater. I love a warm fire, but furnace generated heat gives me an instant headache and makes me itchy. We’re in coastal Texas, so there’s not much danger of a freeze or even a frost, and the house won’t get below 65F I’ll bet, but I have to keep an eye on the other half, or he’ll have it cranked to 70 when I’m not looking.

    • Frances Says:

      Hi Cottage Child! I wonder if he would be up for the challenge if you mentioned the savings on your electric bill you could be enjoying? Ours is usually half what the neighbors are paying! What could he do with that extra money that might be an incentive for him to put on a sweater?

  5. Debbie Says:

    Oh how I’d love to do this. I am a COLD person too and find it impossible to get warmm sometimes. We also have a small child ( four years old) and I’m not sure how this might affect him since he is always on the (cold) floor playine. Our house is 115 years old and we do turn the furnace down to 16 C. at night…but in the day we keep it at about 20.5 C. That would probably feel down right balmy for you. :)

    Thank you for this food for thought. While I do many of the things you do (hot tea, layers, cat in lap, cook alot…etc.) I can’t always seem to get warm. I’m going to try though. I’m off to throw on another layer and turn the thermostate down by 2 degrees.
    -Debbie

  6. angela Says:

    Hot natured here. We keep it at 58 at night and 60 in the day. We sleep so well @night snuggled under down. I must admit that it is warmer upstairs where we sleep due to heat rising. We only keep it 58 at night for the pipes. Can we go lower? We have children and all of us wear hoodies or sweaters and slippers or warm socks, and we’re comfy with it 60. In the evening if we sit still, we have plenty of crocheted blankets to keep on our laps.


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