Save Money On Heating Costs - Sacrificing A Bit Of Comfort For Frugality
Published 1/18/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
Well it's mid January and unless you live near the equator or in a southern hemisphere region where seasons are flipped upside down like say, Australia, then it should be getting very cold just about now. Although come to think of it, this year's temperatures have been strangely and unseasonably warm. Global warming in action perhaps? Well mother nature must have finally heard the call because my area just got dumped today with the season's first significant snowfall. Temperatures are projected to plunge into the 20's this weekend. Brrrrr!
If you plan on staying indoors, it's likely the freezing drop will follow you inside. To combat the frigid winter temperatures, there are four ways to deal with the situation:
- Turn up the thermostat and pay more in heating costs;
- Maintain the thermostat at a very low temperature setting and compensate by wearing winter clothing indoors;
- Turn the master thermostat way down, but use personal space heaters in rooms you'll be spending most of your time in;
- Or ameliorate the drafty air problem by installing energy efficient windows to retain more heat, and retrofitting your walls and ceiling with better insulating material.
If You Can't Upgrade The Insulation, Beat The Cost By Putting On A Sweater and Using A Space Heater
Unless you are extremely well off and money is not an issue, most ordinary folks are concerned with the rising cost of home heating bills. With surging oil and gasoline prices, the cost of heating houses and apartments has become more expensive than in years past. It's in our own financial interest to find a way to minimize and reign in this seasonal winter expense. But at the same time there has to be a reasonable compromise between cost and comfort. Sure, one way is to shut off all heating devices but then you'll basically be living in an icy igloo during the winter months. Not a pleasant experience to come home to. Thus, I prefer to use a combination of all four options - keep the thermostat setting low but at the same time place personal space heaters in commonly occupied rooms that need them the most. If you own your own home, I recommend refitting your doors and windows with more energy efficient models, but if you rent, you probably don't have the luxury of making significant alterations. Since a lot of heat is lost through window cracks, one cheap and simple way to help them retain heat is to place towels along the window sills, thereby sealing off cracks where drafty air can seep through.
I generally try to keep the heating thermostat set at around 68 degrees during the winter. Luckily, I live in a new apartment complex that was built with energy cost and efficient insulation in mind. Despite the recent frigid temperatures in the last few days, my primary heater's only kicked on a handful of times. My storm windows are impressively well insulated and able to keep the natural warm air in, while efficiently blocking out the arctic chill.
It might feel great to run your central heater non-stop but you'll end up paying for the cost. I recommend using a little common sense - exchange some of that expensive warm air for a simple sweater. To stay warm on a budget, simply put on extra layers and bundle up your exposed extremities - your feet in particular. Wearing sandals, scarves, socks, and bunny slippers can help keep your body warm as well. Remember, it is winter after all - so you really shouldn't be setting the meter so high to the point where you're walking around the house in your shorts.