I have heard the same basic 5-10 tips on how to save money on heat and I’m sure you have, too– tips like “make sure all of your windows are caulked” or “turn down your thermostat”. Many of us proudly decide, “This is the winter I am turning my thermostat way down”. One hour into the day you are so cold and miserable you give up and turn it back up again.
You need to have a plan so that you really know what you are doing in order to succeed, just like you do with anything else. I am going to give you some tips today to help you do that, but these aren’t for the faint of heart. You need to be serious about saving money or wanting to get out of debt. These are the things I had to do when my heat either was turned off or I didn’t have enough money to pay a big bill. Those were in the days before you could use credit cards to pay your bills and the companies didn’t have all of those special “programs” for helping you to pay your bill. You either paid your bill or you did without heat entirely.
Take a deep breath, be brave and try one or all of these tips to help lower you heating bill. Some of the tips may seem extreme but there is nothing to say you can’t modify them to fit your needs. If you practice only part of each tip you will still be one step farther along.
Dress appropriately and not for your own comfort. So many people wear short sleeve t-shirts around their homes in the dead of winter. Wear flannel shirts and sweaters or, even better, wear 2-3 layers of clothes and include them all. It isn’t unusual for me to wear a tank top, long sleeve t-shirt, flannel shirt and a sweater on top of that. That’s 4 layers.
Practice the same habit at night. Stop wearing just a t shirt or your summer jammies. Get out the flannel nightgown (your husband will love you anyway). I even wear a long sleeve t-shirt under that. When things were really bad and I had no heat at night at all (amazing I lived to tell about it), I would wear a stocking hat because so much heat goes out of the top of your head.
Of course, if you have babies or elderly family members you will have to set the heat higher but you might not need it as high as think. When my kids were young, we had sleepers made out of blanket material. You have the same thing now but are more often made of fleece or something similar. Instead of using sleepers for pajamas, we would put on a onesy or t shirt, heavy pajamas, socks and booties and then top it all with a sleeper, which was more like a blanket than pajamas.
In some cases, we would top the sleeper with what we called a sleeping sack, which had little mitten like things for their hands. Then we topped it all with a cap. Boy, that made it fun changing a nighttime diaper, especially one that had leaked. Like I said, these ideas are not for the faint of heart.
Wear socks and slippers. Put on 1-2 pairs of socks and a warm pair of slippers.
This may seem obvious but use throws and shawls. Sitting in the evening, I can get chilly. Just laying a throw over my lap and feet can instantly warm me up. I have trouble with snuggies. They seem to get in my way, so I find that a throw and a shawl over my shoulders works better. I know your big he-man husband or son could not handle a shawl, but keep a warm zip up sweat shirt handy for them.
I love wearing mittens without the fingers. When I first started doing this, I was surprised how something so small could warm me up so much. At times I have been so cold I was going to turn up my heat but instead I put on my mittens. These are especially great when using the computer, hand sewing, reading and other tasks where you use your hands frequently.
Drink a warm drink. You might have heard this tip over the years, but it really does work. Sometimes, in the evening, if I start to feel really chilled, I will make myself some coffee or tea. Even holding the hot mug before I start drinking warms me right up.
Close off rooms. I mean, seriously, close off all the rooms you can. At one point, we had no gas, so we had to move into two smaller rooms of the house– the kitchen and another 9×9 room next to it. The kids slept on pallets on the kitchen floor which we had to pick up each morning and move. I slept on the couch in the small room. We had a door that shut us off from the rest of the house. It was a mad dash each morning to the cold part of the house to grab the clothes we needed for the day or anything else from back there but, once again, we lived.
(If you don’t need to use a bathroom and you close it off, be careful about closing off bathrooms where there is plumbing on an outside wall because if your house isn’t well insulated and it’s super cold outside you don’t want to risk having it freeze. That would cost more than your savings! )
Most of you won’t have to be quite as drastic as we were, but I tell you these things to let you know that even if it is inconvenient to shut off a room or two, you won’t die from it. If your rooms are more open and you have no doors, then hang blankets across doorways.
Decorate with darker or warm colors and lots of heavier, fuzzy warm fabrics. This doesn’t make things warmer but, mentall,y it really makes a difference.
What not to do:
Be careful using small electric heaters to warm small areas, thinking you are saving by using those. Depending on where you live, the price of your gas or electricity in the area and the age of the heater, it might cost you more to run the electric heater in that one room than to heat the whole house with gas. Like I said, it depends on where you live. For example, in Idaho, electricity was much cheaper than in Kansas so I could heat my whole house inexpensively with a little heater. When I moved back to Kansas and tried that, I almost had a heart attack after I received my first electric bill.
Note: Besides the cost and energy savings, there are a few added bonuses when lowering your heat:
Less static electricity
You usually don’t have to use a humidifier
Your nose and throat aren’t usually as dry all the time, which is supposed to help prevent or reduce sinus infections and other respiratory problems
Your lips and skin won’t get as dry
Your eyes won’t get as dry. Recently, when I was visiting family, my eyes became red and hurt so badly that I thought I was going to have to go to the eye doctor when I got home, but it turned out they hurt because they were dried out.
I know different areas of the country are more humid than others and that other factors affect dry eyes and sinuses but, no matter where I have lived, I have had less difficulty with these issues than friends and family who lived in the same area.
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Photo By: C Jill Reed