Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My future as a human popsicle

Frosty goodnessAs we get close to fall, I'm still racking my brains about what to do about home heating this year. With heating oil costing 40% more than last year will we be seriously freezing our buns off this winter?

What's the long term solution to this problem? I have discussed solar heating panels and, as much as I am intrigued by them, they don't seem to be as effective at heating in cloudy locations and I don't want to invest in a huge system that isn't ideal. Well, nothing is ideal, but we have limited time and resources right now to contemplate anything too fancy.

So, we'll put off the decision for a while and limp along for a few years. If that means that we'll have arctic conditions inside, then so be it. It's not like Seattle gets that cold that we couldn't employ some old-fashioned methods of staying warm. I am considering a space heater so we don't torture my post-transplant husband any more than necessary. Throw in some additional insulating measures and hopefully things we'll be tolerable. I guarantee you'll hear about it one way or another.

In the meantime, there are some nice advances coming along with solar technology. According to Mother Earth News, "Industry analysts think the price of photovoltaics will drop to $1 per installed watt by 2010. That’s a magic number because it’s the point at which solar-generated electricity becomes competitive with electricity produced from fossil fuels."

This may very well turn out to be too good to be true, but I guess we'll all just have to wait and see how the increased demand in the alternative energy market drives prices. I know it's difficult to think about since many of us are still sweating our buns off and can't even contemplate freezing temperatures, but it will be on us before you know it.

For all of you facing much higher heating costs this season, what are you doing?

52 comments:

Eliane said...

Two years ago I lived in a terraced house heated by gas and our bills were reasonable. Last year we were in a rented barn conversion heated by oil and the cost was a real shock to the system. This year we've decided to zone the house and I've just bought two freestanding radiators to add to one we already have and then we can move them around to heat individual rooms we're using. We also have a large woodburning stove which will take care of one end of the house. The fact that we rent makes any changes we can do limited, but luckily our landlords are replacing most of our single-glazed windows with double, before the winter. Solar electricity generating panels are out of the question here really as we're in wet Wales - no sun for weeks. Other options are wind power, and woodburning heating boilers. But to be honest I think our problem with getting warm is not what we are using to heat this house with, but how efficiently we are heating it. It leaks heat and it takes an age to warm up. So that's what needs fixing first. Can't wait for the windows.

TheCrone said...

Go op shopping for rugs and wall hangings.

Get nice thick insulating curtains.

Put bookshelves along walls and fill them (another few inches of insulation)

Look for a product called winter windows (a do it yourself removable 'double glazing')

Crochet large rugs, they keep your knees warm.

Robj98168 said...

I am putting in a window on the south wall of the kitchen to capture a few rays and help light the kitchen- future plans include adding a couple of solar tube lights, one in the bathroom and one in the hallway. Would love to add solar to help lower electricity, but i drool over wind turbines- I dream of on on each side of the garage. I am waiting for solar to lower.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

We live in an old property (1700's) that I converted some twenty years ago. All external walls are insulated on the inside, the central heating radiator pipes are all lagged and each radiator has a thermostat, so for the rooms that we don't use, we turn the rad's right down. I am somewhat obsessive (!) about draft proofing and we have double glazing. I installed an open wood burning fire with a back boiler for the domestic hot water in the main room and we wear jumpers in the winter.
The above coupled with turning the lights off when we are not in a room keeps our costs down to a sensible level and we still are more than comfortable. I don’t know how our friends are going to manage though; you need shorts and T shirts or swimming gear to visit them in the winter.

Anonymous said...

We had a 40 cent hke per gallon for propane. While we normally don't use much...550 gallons last year. It's gonna be tough in the household here. So what will be be doing? Well can't afford heavy insulated curtians but plan on putting up blankets over them, shutting off rooms we don't use often, turning down the heat a few more degrees...and basically stopping any draft we can. Adding a few more blankets to the beds and wearing long johns 24-7. The master bedroom has no heating zone up there so its chilly to begin with. It's going to get chillier this winter. Woodburning out since husband has really bad asthma and the woodburning triggers attacks bad enough to send him to hosipital. Solar and wind still beyond our finances. have a feeling we'll be using our sub-zero rated sleeping bags all year this year...all are rated to minus 25. Otherwise the thermostat will go down another few degrees. We're thinking 57 for day and 55 for night. We'll bake in the evenings to warm house up a little.

kadnkadnk said...

We're moving into our new cohousing in a few weeks and I have no idea what the heating bills will look like for the winter - I'm thrilled for the new house and new community, but I'm terrified to move out of this well-insulated heat-included apartment!

knutty knitter said...

We doubleglazed the biggest window in the livingroom last year - only one to go. the floor is mostly insulated where it matters and the roof is completely done. I can now heat the living room with a single bar heater and the work room is the same. The rest just stays cold. Cooking tends to be very fast or slow cooked as the kitchen is the ice zone. The slow cooker gets taken into the living room because it works better there.

Some day I hope to have the whole house insulated and double glazed - dreams are free!

At least it's spring here now.

viv in nz

Young Snowbird said...

*For personal daily warmth it was recommended we wear layers - silk long johns under wool clothing did the best job at regulating body temperature.
*I have used blankets and heavy bath towels as curtains. *Eskimo style - let the critters sleep in your bed. A Three-Dog night is damm cold!
*Insulate the hot water tank, and if you have electric base-board heat, turn the thing off at the circuit breaker when you're not at home-provided there is sufficient heat to keep your water pipes from freezing. When in Indianapolis, I lived in a second story apartment that had only base-board heat. Had 15 foot ceilings, and even if I turned off the baseboard for 12 hours daily while away at work I still drew enough to have a $150 electric bill. Switching off the circuit at the electrical panel stopped the draw, and lowered the bill to under $100. The water pipes were on the far interior of the apt, and the heat from below the apt protected the pipes from freezing. *I tried the same trick later when in Wisconsin, especially for the water heater(one of those half sized ones which I wrapped in super thick insulation) and it helped tremendously with the electric bill. I didn't need the water heater cycling all day to keep the water heated. I flipped the circuit back on when I returned home each night and had plenty of hot water to shower and do dishes in the morning.

JAM said...

We have oil heat and considered switching to gas but the conversion would be at least at 15 year payback and if oil and gas approach each other in cost (which I think they will) then it will be even longer. Last winter we kept the heat at 64 day/55 night, I'm not sure if I can go much lower than that but maybe we'll try. I am making a quilted curtain for our biggest window (we have all fairly new windows so they're not too bad). We had an energy audit which said our insulation was pretty good, although the house was built in 1929 so I'm sure it's not tight like a new house. My dad made us wear shoes and hats during the energy crunch of the 70's, maybe we'll have to get some substantial indoor slippers so that we can keep the heat lower. My older daughter has the top floor which has electric heat, which has always been more expensive than oil - maybe it's not any more? I was interested in a pellet stove but it sounds like they create quite a bit of dirt and also take up a big chunk of your space, and I'm not sure how well the heat would wind it's way around the whole house. I guess nothing is ideal as long as we're staying in the Northeast (where they're predicting a colder than normal winter!)

Polly said...

We live in a 1600 sq ft log home, 15 yrs old. The log walls are great insulation but we skimped on cheap windows and have been forever sorry. We have propane heat and use a woodstove every day - a kerosene heater in the kitchen, shawls and sweaters. On our bed we have a comforter made with wool batting from a sheep I owned 30 yrs ago -- it's the warmest thing ever. The kids sleep in stocking caps.

LisaZ said...

Last year we kept the thermostat at 65 day, 55 night and got used to it (eventually!). This year we'll go to 62 or even 60 day and 50 or so at night. We'll wear our warm clothes again all day (hats and fingerless mitts included), and I think I'll have the kids sleep in their sleeping bags under their blankets to keep their feet warm. DH and I will pile on the quilts and comforters and keep each other warm, too!

We heat with natural gas which in MN is supposed to go up 40%. I think we can "beat it" by keeping the house even cooler. I hope we can survive it!!! I worry most about my 90yo grandma whose income is fixed and very low now that she has home health aides coming in daily. She keeps the house at 78 and is cold otherwise. Don't know what she'll do.

Bobbi said...

At this point in my life, I am stuck with electric heat (coal powered, unfortunately). We can't afford the upgrade to solar, wind or geothermal. Also natural gas is not an option in my area.

I am hopefully in the next few years of being able to tap into wind power. There is a new "green" agricultural center being built less than a 1/2 mile from my home and they will eventually be offering wind power to some of their neighbors. It's not scheduled for completion until 2011.

Greenpa said...

The price of photovoltaic panels will not, of course, help your heating problems. You knew that, I know. :-)

THE coming answer: earth shelter. If you have a cellar; fix it up so you can be comfy there. If you don't have a cellar- dig one.

Think hobbit.

jlygrnmigt said...

I grew up in a house in Michigan that had a big ol' solar thing on the roof, and it provided supplemental forced heat in the winter. I think we still mainly relied on gas-heated water heat, but I'm just putting that out there. Not sure if it's helpful or not.

agreenfire said...

I use propane heat, and you can book it early, which is what I did. I got 300 gallons and I am praying it will last me the winter. I plan to keep my heat barely on, wear layers, and I may break out the sleeping bag if I need too.

I have plugged all the drafts and I will hang a heavy blanket over the back door on the coldest days.

Tomorrow, I will be trying that trick of turning off my electric hot water heater during the day. I'm not home during the day, why do I need hot water?

Our electric company is already warning of price increases starting in October. Between that and propane prices, I am very worried about the coming winter.

knittingwoman said...

we close the vents in the upstairs bedrooms and don't heat them at all. We turned the heat down (oil based) last year and will do so more this year. we have a woodstove and we bought a lot more wood this year and will burn more wood. I'm getting a time for my teenager's space heater so his room will be warm for getting up in the morning and then I don't heat that room while he is at school. We also wear lots of warm stuff in the house and sleep under a pile of blankets.

Young Snowbird said...

One more tip I just remembered. To make it more toasty in bed, place a warm blanket ontop of the mattress pad, and then put your fitted sheet on over it. It helps radiate the heat up to your body. When I do this, my cat never leaves the bed, she's soooo toasty!

Kelsie said...

We're moving.

Or at least trying to.

We've come to realize that living in a 1600 sqf house, while nice, is completely NOT necessary for two people. It's also the draftiest, leakiest, most energy efficient house I've ever had the pleasure of staying in. What makes it wonderful in the summer (high ceilings, wide-open rooms, 6 windows on every wall...) makes it HORRIBLE in the winter. There's no insulation--not even in the attic--and the windows are all single pane and from the 20s, when the house was built. We're renting, and our landlady refuses to change any of these things. I love this house, and I love old houses in general, so we're trying to downsize to a 980 square foot house that has been fully insulated (including the floors!) and has thermal pane windows. Wish us luck, lest we spend another winter shivering at 56 degrees.

Kelsie said...

ummm...that should have said "energy INefficient." :)

Anonymous said...

I wonder what to do with elderly people in the house. My parents-in-law are in their 80s and they are from a tropical country **key point** so it's not like I can just tell them to bundle it up and suck it up like I would do with my middle-aged self.

Green Bean said...

Well, we did freeze our buns off last year but finally acclimated around February. I've been trying to stay colder this year - whenever we have a cold spell, I still wear shorts, etc.

No real plans but we probably should clean out our heating ducts and look into better insulation. I guess I better get on it, eh?

Kim from Milw said...

I read that dog fur is the absolute best insulation, so I've upped my weirdness factor x10 by saving my sister's doggie fur (he's half Husky). Got a couple books from the library on felting and I'm thinking of making quilts again with this fur felt as a layer inside. It would also work for those boot liners, too. And I'll maybe learn to spin it and make yarn for mittens, hats and socks.

Amazing the things global warming will make one learn.

jewishfarmer said...

Like Greenpa said, even if the solar panel thing is true (and we've been hearing that they were about to become competetive any day now for years - and to a large degree their current ability to compete has to do with huge increases in electrical costs that many consumers can't bear at all), it won't help your heat situation. Generating heat is the worst possible use of solar panel energy, unless you've got panels covering nearly every inch of the earth covered ;-).

Like you (and most people) our major adaptive strategy is "suck it up" ;-). We're going to heat as much as possible (barring leaving town and keeping the heat high enough to avoid exploding pipes with wood, which will mean a couple of warm spots and the rest of the house freezing. We'll close up extra space, and do the best we can. We'll live.

Sharon

Cave-Woman said...

We live in a rental, so trying to make is a little more energy efficient has been ....interesting.

So, doing even the simple, usual things is a bit more challenging.
Nevertheless, we plan to be in this home for at least 5 years, so it seemed like a good idea to do the following:

1. Insulate the water heater

2. Installing door draft sweeps.

3. Installing new weather stripping around the windows(the old stuff is ineffective).

4. Slowly adjust fiance' to colder temperatures by altering the thermostate a few degrees when he isn't looking. ( So far, I've been able to up our summer home temperature by three degrees from last year's summer temperatures. It has helped our expenses---and because it was a gradual transition---he didn't mind the switch. Let's see if I can do the same in the winter.)

5. Drink hot tea.

6. Lower house temp at night, put extra quilt on bed, and on the coldest nights, get out the electric blanket. Also, encourage the kitten to snuggle. (:

7. Bake the majority of the weeks' meals one day of the week---this heats up the kitchen for that day nicely, and reduces the need to have the home temp. too high for that day, and it saves us time during the week when we are busy.

8. Would love to insulate around the heating/cooling unit but have no idea how to do it. Will have to go to Home Depot to take a class---and get the landlord to be involved.

9. Open thermal curtains during the day in winter, and close them during the day in summer.

10. Close off unused rooms.

11. In my fantasy world, we find Solar Sheeting for the bedroom windows.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Crunchy, just wondering, do you have an electricity provider who uses renewable energy, and could you switch to them? Then you could go all electric and not be employing fossil fuels. just wondering.

That is what I am doing here in TX. IT doesn't exactly make the energy bills lower but it helps my conscience. Oh, and it never gets THAT cold in TX. Come on down! We'd love to have ya!!

homebrewlibrarian said...

Even though our summer here in Anchorage has mostly been in the high 50s, low 60s, I turned the thermostat off. It's been staying about 65-66 inside unless I'm using the dehydrator or canning something then it gets nearly up to 70. If I go away for the weekend, the temp falls to 63 or so. I walk around in a long sleeve shirt, pants and shoes and that's been working out well. If I feel chilled, I put on a fleece vest.

I've been spending more time outside in the yard and garden and riding my bike around town and only put on a windbreaker to be more visible when I'm riding (it's very bright YELLOW). I wear the same stuff inside and out and seem to have acclimated pretty well. This winter I'm going to start with the temperature set at 63 (last winter was 65) and see if I can back it down to 60. The unit I'm in has whole house baseboard radiators so there's not much I can do to except keep the thermostat down.

My problem is coming to work! My office is usually somewhere between 70 and 74 and it practically puts me to sleep. I've got the thermostat as low in the winter and high in the summer as possible but it's still a little too warm for me. Short of wearing t-shirt and shorts at work (not advisable), I tend to be a little warmer than I'd like. Because fuel costs are going way up, I'm wondering if my workplace would be willing to back the temperature down. Guess I'll find out when it gets frosty.

Kerri in AK

pleintexas said...

Well Crunchy, since I live in South Texas, winters aren't what hurts me here. I have a 750 sq ft home built in 1925. I put a small ceramic heater in the bath room before I have to get naked and shower. For the rest of the house, 2 small space heaters and sweaters are worn inside. Plus it helps to be going through menopause...

jimbolini23 said...

One word: wool. :-)

I generally start the winter with the thermostat set to 50 when I'm out or asleep, and set to 60 the rest of the time. This winter, I'll try to leave it on 50 the whole time.... Also, I close off rooms which don't have plumbing in the walls. That cuts the sq.footage that I have to heat in half (at least theoretically).

I sleep with two or more 100% wool blankets on the bed (under the usual comforter), a ragg wool balaclava as a nightcap, and ragg wool socks. A zipperfront hooded sweatshirt is fine for "up" time.

Last, I drink Ginger tea - a thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced, in a mug of hot water, with a sprinkle of cayenne. Honey, if you wish.

Melinda said...

Does that $1 drop rely on the tax cuts being renewed?

We tried going down to really low temps last year but gave up mid-winter when my asthma couldn't take it. We made it with a couple of little space heaters which we used to heat individual rooms. This year, we're looking for one that's more energy efficient.

jennconspiracy said...

I can't believe y'all are talking about winter heating bills already. It's only just getting to be "summer" here in the Bay Area -- of course, this week is cloudy and overcast but September is our July, basically.

I remember putting in attic insulation with my landlord late last October and sweating my ass off -- I'll still be picking tomatoes in six weeks.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpaps - Um, really? The solar panels don't magically make heating oil? Damn. I guess I need to rethink my plan. No, actually I was thinking of supplemental electric heating.

Texan Mama - We get all our electricity from renewable energy sources. As for moving to Texas, I've always wanted to visit and we considered moving to Austin a long, long time ago. Not too sure about those hurricanes though.

Jimbo - That's quite a system you've got running there. Do you wake up 3 inches thinner after being compressed under all that wool at night? I guess if you live in Poughkeepsie, you need it.

Jennconspirancy - It's never too early to start planning!

Chile said...

Like Jennconspiracy, it's still pretty warm here - mid 90s today. However, I've been thinking about winter as it looks like we may be stuck in this rental house for a while yet. I'll probably do what I did last year which is freeze my butt off.

When we moved in, we put in door sweeps and weatherstripping. Putting up window quilts would be a major job with masonry walls, and not something removable. I'm not willing to leave quilts behind.

This winter, I guess I'll put in the foil-backed insulation in the windows at night to help retain the heat. There's really no way to do anything else with these damn windows - believe me, I've looked into lots of options.

Sigh. I'd really hoped we'd have our own place by now. :(

Crunchy Chicken said...

Aaah, Chile. I'm sorry to hear that you are trapped in your current rental. I'll look into those foil-backed window dealies for our basement windows.

kate said...

I'm going to suck it up too, but I've been doing that for awhile in NE New York. I already do layering, even wore a hat indoors one really cold windy winter. I got a programmable thermostat put in this year, so I have the ability to go even lower on some days I choose. I've kept the thermostat at 58 and I'm used to it. I raise it 10 degrees when anyone visits.

I have a tiny camp in SW Vermont, which I bought last winter. The water is turned off in the winter, so I bring it from NY. There is a propane heater, but I only used it once. I found it best to use my down comforter and sleep with my dog. In the early evening, I use an electric space heater. I was surprised by the winter sun, but it's because the leaves are off the trees.

I love the winter, which helps a lot in keeping everything in perspective.

kate

Rosa said...

First, I'm going to try to hold off on the heat until November 15. We made it to Oct 31 last year, which is pretty good (it snowed before we turned on the heat, I think. But it didn't stick.)

I'm north of Lisa and south of Greenpa, I think.

Second, longjohns - I'm on the hunt for 3T longjohns already for my little dude, we tried on last year's last night and they're too small.

Third - we're going back to showering at the Y. Our big supplemental heat expense is the space heater in the bathroom. We had about a year when our water pressure was so bad we just took showers at the YWCA, and i think we're going to go to a schedule where we swim & bathe the toddler twice a week, starting next week.

We already set the thermostat at 58 all last winter - I don't know that I can do much about a 40% rise in natural gas costs.

Greenpa said...

Crunchiquitita- NObody uses photovoltaics to provide electricity for heat. Ok, maybe somewhere there's somebody that rich- but nobody I've ever heard of. Photovoltaics just don't make that much power; and then you'd have to have a huge battery bank. Even supplemental- I don't know anyone who does it. Lights, electronics; a good freezer, even occasional vacuum use- not hard to do. Dishwasher/refrigerator from solar will jump you up to another scale of installation. Heat? nope. :-)

The equation would run something like: using a 1500 watt bathroom heater for 10 minutes would use as much power as all your lights and computers for about 2 days. Something like that; ballpark.

Basically the problem is not that photovoltaics are poor power producers- it's that electric heat is an incredible power user. Most houses with electric heat got built back when power companies were trying to increase power consumption- the companies often gave insanely cheap prices specifically for electric heat- gives them a good excuse as to why they really need that new nuclear plant. I don't think they're doing that any more.

Greenpa said...

oh, yeah; the other part of the equation; enough photovoltaic panels to provide say 2 kilowatts of heat for an hour- would cost more than solar HEAT collectors that could provide about 100 times more heat. Literally. Just different energy systems; captured, stored, delivered differently all around.

I know, you don't belive ME- ask Sharon. :-P

Condo Blues said...

I'm trying to reduce the amount of natural gas my home uses this year by 20% without replacing everything I own. For where I live, the ROI on installing solar, wind, etc. makes it an unwise move. However, I am doing it and I'm staying warm in winter. The big thing is insulation and sealing up all those little gaps around your home where air escapes. Cave-woman's list is a good one. I've do 1,2, 3, and 6 and it's helped. Another thing is to put foam gaskets around your outlets and switches on the outside walls of your house. I made mine from craft foam. I also put child proof outlet covers in the unused outlets on outside walls to further stop drafts. I caulked around the outside of the doors and windows of my house. In winter I put reuseble rope insulation around all of the inside of my windows. It comes off for summer so I can open the windows (also just in case we need to open the windows for emergency in winter.) I also made tiny draft dodgers to go in the crack between the sliding windows. I also use liners for curtains. A combination of blackout liners (bought them at a bed and bath store premade. they attach to ready made curtains.) and insulated roman blind of sorts (I made a roman blind with batting/extra layers of heavy fabric in the center. but opted not to but the roman blind rings and strings on the back of the blind.) You do temporary curtain liners from either whip stitching a sheet or plain white flannel fabric to the inside top of the curtain or if you use the clip curtain rings, clip the sheet/fabric to the backside of the curtain.

Maeve said...

I'm hoping it doesn't get too cold. It will, though. It always does. So I've bought one of those plastic window film kits, even though I hate the notion of putting plastic on my windows. And I'll be making draft stoppers (my house will look like it's been invaded by fabric snakes, heh.)

We've already turned down the hot water heater as much as we can, insulated the pipes, etc. I guess we could insulate the pipes of our boiler system, but the heat they lose keeps the basement from freezing.

Lots of blankets, sweaters, hot tea.

More housework! Warm house slippers. Robes. Possibly I may even make bed hats. I've given some consideration to the feasibility of putting bed curtains around all the beds, ala English Regency Novels. Then the temp at night could be turned lower.

I have not yet put insulating curtains on the windows, but that's on my "game plan" as well.

And with the house chilly, I can stand to work on making quilts and things out of yarn.

If all else fails, going outside for a brisk walk makes the house seem toasty warm when one comes back indoors.

Abbie said...

We're planning to buy a new wood stove and my husband is going to hook it into our forced-air heating system. The wood stove we have now is over 100 years old and I'm afraid to leave the house or go to bed when there's a fire in it... just in case.

The new one is going to cost us about $2500, but it will last us forever!

Wendy said...

We're replacing our woodstove with a newer, more efficient model. The woodstove is supposed to be enough to heat our entire 1500 sq ft house, but we're also insulating the last couple of walls where we know there's a deficit, and my husband will be designing a solar space heater for the back (south-facing) room - the one furthest from the woodstove - using a plan similar to this one.

It gets wicked cold here and stays below freezing for three straight months (give or take a week or two) with lots of delicious snow and fierce Canadian winds.

For heat, we're covered. My concern is that I haven't put up enough food to last us until next June, when our growing season gets started.

Harper said...

I rent in a building with steam heat radiators and until three years ago had to keep windows open to keep from melting. Then the owners updated the boiler and put in a building thermostat. Which is great but suddenly I had to deal with indoor cold. I began wearing slippers and layers but when my nose and fingers get cold I turn on a cheapo small electric heater. Rather than trying to warm up the whole room, I point it directly at me from about four feet away and turn it on low. Works surprisingly well.

daharja said...

We're looking at buying a property with an established woodlot and a woodburner.

Most homes around here don't have double glazing, but some have good insulation. We'll be getting any house we buy fully insulated before we move in, or topped up.

Depending on how much cash we hae left over, we'll be installing double glazing or the plastic film stuff that costs about $20 per window as a temporary measure until we can afford double glazing, and then we'll just do a window at a time.

We're factoring solar hot water (which very few homes have) into our budget to pre-install before we move in, and will be aiming to go fully off-grid, probably with a micro-system combination of wind and hydro. That will slice our ower bills down.

With the combination above, we should save at least a full $400 a month on energy, which is the average energy bill around these parts. It will all soon pay for itself.

Basic and cheap things to do to reduce heating costs are:

- the best insulation you can get
- plastic film-based double 'glazing'. This can be installed even in rented properties, and will not damage window fixtures and fittings.
- window quilting, pelmets, draught stoppers, etc.
- keeping doors shut and lights off when not in use!
- using electric blankets or hot water bottles in preference to all-night heating of homes
- changing to the cheapest provider and shopping around for energy sources
- possibly installing a woodburner and going shares with family members for a piece of land to install quick-growing wood sources on it. Some tree species are ready to harvest in as little as three years; others can be coppiced. Some families I know around here co-own property in the hills and share the wood from it for their burners - this brings their costs to virtually nothing apart from the manual labour of chopping and hauling the wood.

Sweetpeas said...

This will be our year to see how it goes. We moved this spring, new house is half the size of the old one, 18" thick adobe walls (vs, paper thin new construction in the old house), oil heat vs natural gas, landlord put in new windows before we moved in, so hopefully won't lose too much heat out of them (will hang blankets in them at night if we need to (I NEED the light during the day or I'll go insane LOL). We do have a dual system, and I'm hoping to just run the downstairs heat (I'll have the upstairs one set somewhere between 45 & 50, but hope it doesn't ever come on. I want to spend time this winter making things like tortillas and muffins and other things that I can freeze to use next summer, this summer I avoided making such things to keep from heating up the kitchen (we ran the a/c very rarely this summer) . . . I don't know, we shall see what works and doesn't this year and plan accordingly for next year. . .

Eva said...

Hot water bottles (buy at pharmacy or make your own) really help warm up chilly beds.

sunflowerchilde said...

I am a wuss when it comes to cold, being a California native. My apartment freezes in the winter - north-facing single-pane windows, leaks around all windows and doors, etc. We try to keep the heat turned down, but I have a hard time with it. I manage 65-68 during the day, 60-65 at night, but I complain a lot. I usually wear slippers (sometimes with socks), lots of layers, and often a hat inside the house. I drink tea frequently, and add a comforter and several blankets to the bed. I need to look into some other things I can do as a renter. There are some great ideas on here.

LimeSarah said...

Yeah, I rent, too. Last winter we kept the apartment in the mid-50s and used half the oil that we did the winter before, mostly because the upstairs neighbors' heat goes through our walls. ;-) We also basically didn't use the front half of the apartment, and just shut the bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen into a mini-apartment for the winter. Wearing slippers and a hat works wonders, as do pajamas with feet (somehow, they're significantly warmer than sweatpants and slippers despite being thinner fabric). I taped bubble wrap (the big kind) to the outside-facing wall and windows of my bedroom and drank lots and lots of hot tea.

Sadraki said...

I'm in Seattle and with the exception of one horribly uninsulated home I lived in I rarely need to turn heat on. Now I live in a great rental with radiant floor heat and all our electricity if purchased from "green" sources--or so says the electric company. But my main problem in the winter is my knees hurt when cold and I had knee surgery this summer so I expect it to be worse. However, was at a thrift store with a friend recently and found wool leg/knee warmers and this awesome fleece skirt. So now I'm set! I'll just wear my 80's style leg warmers all winter under my other clothes.

kelley said...

we moved from a drafty old house with one gas heat vent to a one-bedroom apartment with electric controls in each room. phew.

Sharlene said...

What am I doing? Thanking God I live in California where we don't use oil to heat and where it doesn't even get that cold.

Anonymous said...

We have a lot of south- and east-facing windows, so during the day the blinds are wide open and it's toasty warm. When it gets dark, we close the (double-layered) Roman blinds, and that seems to keep most of the drafts out. They are very drafty windows, but we can't afford to replace all the ones in our house. I also used draft stoppers last year, and am making them this year for our downstairs tenants. I work at home, so I have the temp set at about 62 or so during the day, although with the sun it's more like 65. Layers, scarves and shawls, and fingerless gloves since my hands freeze when I'm on the computer all day. We make a lot of stews, too. And wool blankets combined with flannel sheets (top and bottom -- makes a huge difference having both). Toasty! We sleep in the nude most of the winter (TMI, I know) with the heat at 58 or 60.

But I'm not looking forward to it. I hate being chilly, and feel chilly a lot during the winter. If I worked away from home, I wouldn't mind so much because it wouldn't be all day, every day. I find it wearing.

Jill said...

We are finally getting blown in insulation in the exterior walls. That should help tremendously! (There is none at the moment) I would also love to have solar...but like Mick Jaggers says 'you can't always get what you want'.

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