Monday, October 27, 2008

Turn your heat down willya?

Are you tired of paying for the Natural Gas or Heating Oil company exec's new cars? Are you annoyed that your heating bill has gone up and is going to go higher? Me too.

I say let's stick it to the man and turn our thermostats down. Oh and the whole reducing your carbon footprint thing? Well that will just happen naturally if you play along with me.

Here's our current situation - hopefully some of my solutions will help you too.

We live in a 1500 sf tri-level 1969 ranch. All our windows and doors are original and the insulation is minimal at best. Until this summer, we had zero insulation under the floors and they used to get icy cold!

We had the crawlspace insulated in September (as deep as the rafters are...but I forget the R value, I think 17). In Oregon we rarely get snow or ice, and even more rarely have the temps drop under 30. But in an old drafty house like this one, mild weather doesn't help at all! It's still hard to keep it warm.

Here are a few things that I am working on to help offset our heat needs this winter.

I have collected old linen tablecloths and sheets from yard-sales over the years. I am turning them into multi-layered curtains. First I stitch a rod pocket into the tablecloth and slip it over a tension rod that is placed on the inside of the window frame. Then I stitch up a double thick top curtain of a sheet, tablecloth or whatever I have handy. I place those on a rod that extends outside the window frame. That way there is dead air between the layers of curtains (dead air = insulation).

I am going to make window quilts this year from sheets and old blankets (just sandwich the blanket inside the sheets and voila, quilt) for the two sliding doors and huge picture window. They ooze cold when the weather turns. I like to make the top layer of my curtains really snazzy so the house still looks all cute (but frugal) hehe.

We are also layering rugs on the hardwood floors in the bedrooms to stave off chilly toes. Same in the living room, but we have carpet and new insulation. So the extra rugs are just extra coziness.

We have an unusable fireplace that sucks warm air out of our we put a yard-sale find super heavy 1950s style bookcase on the hearth and have blocked the draft and created a nifty place to store the baby's books.

We also spent time this weekend pulling all outlet and switch covers and placing foam inserts inside.

Next up is a heavy blanket for the kitchen/ garage'll make a huge difference in the house I am sure. My dad has done this for years and it really is amazing how warm the kitchen gets once the door is insulated.

Cooking at home helps heat your house for free. A pot of boiling water or soup, or some potatoes in the oven really heats our house up.

When we are done baking, or the dishwasher finishes its cycle we open them and let their heat flow into the house. We also let warm water from the bath sit in the tub until the water cools.

Add to all these things a nice cozy sweater and socks, and a fluffy blanket for the couch and it won't feel so bad when your thermostat reads 63*.

As part of the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge we've comitted to no more than 65* during the day and 50* at night. We have zillions of blankets and we co-sleep with the baby so it should be fine.

As another blogger so aptly said - I'm looking forward to the overpayment notice from NW Natural Gas in the spring when my equal pay bills for the winter all level out.

***Addendum - I also use the sun to passively heat my home by opening all the south facing curtains when it is sunny out in the winter. It's really incredible how much heat the sun puts out when it is magnified through glass.

1 comment:

MeadowLark said...

Sounds like you've done a lot to make a difference. Me, not so much. :(

We live in a 1600 sqft 1959 ranch. Plus a 1600sqft finished basement. A fireplace on each floor which we use only occasionally. They both have "heatalotor" inserts which means when a fire is going, the hot air around the not-really-an-insert is forced out the grating built into the bricks. Kinda confusing, I know. But since I love my fireplaces in the winter, it's good to know they're at least doing more than the heat going straight up. I have only gone so far as setting the house to 61 in the day when we're gone, but it comes back up to 68 right before I get home. And at night the thermostat is set for 60, but if I don't watch Husband, he'll turn it up to 67.

We don't have the floor issues (because of the basement. And we're all hardwoods here) but we do have windows issues. Our front windows are dual-pane, but dual-pane from 1959 and the gas between the two has all leaked away. I did find a killer deal at and got all four blinds for these huge windows (45x66 - 4 of them!) for $360. Free shipping too!! So we just broke down and did it. I hope it helps because I'm never going to talk him into window quilts.

Sorry for rambling on forever. :/
Stay warm!