Lowering Energy Costs in the Winter

Dale woke up yesterday morning complaining of being cold.

When we were younger, I was the one always cold and he was hot, now it is reversed.

“You’re going to have to put on some sweats or something,” I told him, “That is, until we fire up the stove.”

He said something about adding another dog to the bed – we already sleep with two – which isn’t an option in a double sized bed.

We’re using a small electric oil heater right now, enough to take the chill off, but we won’t start burning wood until the temps dive and stay low.

Until then, instead of turning up the electric heater, which costs us as well as the environment (or making it 3-dog nights), we will take these steps:

  • Add an extra quilt to the bed
  • Layer clothing
  • Open the oven after use to allow the unneeded heat for cooking continue to warm the house
  • Close the vents in the basement

For those of you who have central heat, lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and lower at night not only helps the environment, but can save you up to 15 percent on energy bills each year.


Do you have any more tips to help save energy in the winter?

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23 Responses

  1. Frugal Kiwi says:

    I will heat up a rice bag (wheat, buckwheat, cherry pit or whatever kind of bag you have will do) and use it to warm my hands or my core. Helps a bunch!

  2. sarah henry says:

    Insulation: My little rental cottage can hit over 85 inside when it’s warm outside and in the 40 when it’s cold. Would love to live in a place with good window, wall, and attic insulation.

    • Kerri says:

      When we built Our Little House, Sarah, we made sure to put really good insulation in the house. It does make a huge difference.

  3. Merr says:

    Two pairs of socks works for me. I have a heated mattress pad that has dual controls for each side. I use my side to warm the bed up before I get in.

  4. Kim says:

    Don’t forget the quick, cheap fix of a mug of hot tea or coffee! Call it placebo affect if you will, but I swear I feel the warmth seeping into my fingers and toes as I down a cup. 🙂

  5. Alexandra says:

    We have not turned on the heat yet here on Cape Cod. It’s really quite late in the season, too. So, we are saving energy. At night, I turn the heat OFF once we do turn it on. Saves energy, we are snug under down comforters, and the heating bills are not so high.

  6. I also like to keep my house cold–62 degrees in the winter. I don’t mind piling on the blankets and sweaters.

  7. Olivia says:

    I am curious about this who is hot and who is cold phenomenon.

    During the day I am always cold whereas DH is warm. At night I am the one throwing the window open – even in the dead of winter when the temperature is w-a-y below freezing – kicking the duvet off, turning the fan on while DH is piling a winter weight sleeping bag on top of the duvet and literally pulling the covers over his head while sneakily closing the window when he thinks I am asleep. I have heard of so many women complain about this turn of events – what happens?

    • Kerri says:

      I don’t know how old you are, Olivia, but in our case, it is peri-menopause for me and I believe my husband’s diabetes has contributed to his chilliness. Many women don’t even realize they suffer from night sweats, or don’t recognize them as such as early as their mid 30s. I’m nearing 48 and sometimes just wake up these days soaking wet from sweat. I look over and Dale has the heavy comforter on him. It isn’t always this way, but many nights. Last night, for instance, he did the dishes before coming to bed and so he was hot and turned on the fan. I woke up at 1 a.m. freezing.

  8. mat says:

    We’ve gradually lowered the thermostat each year, though I think we’re bottoming out now. We live in an old brick twin, which is good for regulating wild temperature swings, however once it stays cold, the house just seems to hold it in. And being a brick twin built in 1935, the insulation is limited to the horsehair in the plaster on the walls. Add in the walk-up attic, and the house is pretty much one giant heat-loss hole. The attic floor is insulated (knob and tube wiring bolted to the rafters) so that helps, but only to a point. I’ve considered building a “trapdoor” out of 2″ polystyrene (yeah, I know) insulation panels, but the layout doesn’t lend itself well to something like that. Almost makes me miss the fold-down stairs in my mom’s old house. Our next house will be well-insulated, I can guarantee you that!
    Having worked for a decent HVAC company, I can tell you that a “setback” (aka programmable) thermostat can save you a realistic 10-20% on your heating bills. The function of a setback thermostat is to allow you to schedule the times you want your home warmer or cooler and the thermostat does it automatically. Think of it as heater DVR. I set mine for 66 when I wake up, 60 while I’m at work, and 65 for when I come home and all night. They all work pretty much the same way, so don’t think you need to drop $200 for the one with the touch screen because it’ll give you better performance. There ARE differences between brands and I’m a big fan of Honeywell products (it’s what I use in my house). Shop around, there’s great deals to be had locally and online.
    Since we like to save money around here…I’ll also point out that YOU can be your own setback thermostat. Turn down the heat when you’re going to be out for more than a couple of hours and turn it back up when you get back. Or turn it down when you go to sleep and back up in the morning. Or whatever works for you. But in my experience, a $50 programmable thermostat is worth saving yourself the hassle of always figiting with your heat.

  9. Opening up the oven door after cooking is something I hadn’t heard of, but a good idea! I have always liked sleeping in a cool, even cold, bedroom with plenty of blankets. Like you and Dale, my husband and I have also switched as far as who gets cold more easily (used to be me, now it’s him.)

    The first floor of our house is earth contact so we have some built-in energy efficiency with that. We’re also planning to use our wood stove this winter, something we didn’t take full advantage of last year due to lack of having cut enough wood. It’s a big wood stove and I really think we might be able to keep our furnace turned down very low or even off completely, once it’s fired up. I’m looking forward to cozy evenings with a nice fire going!

    • Kerri says:

      Kathleen, my aunt has a fairly good sized house and once they fire up the wood stove, their furnace may only come on for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Most of the time though, the stove does a perfectly fine job of heating their whole house. Let us know how the wood stove works.

  10. Teleia says:

    I keep my heat at 55 in the winter because I’m the only one paying the bills! 🙂

    To keep warm, I wear long underwear and sweatshirts and sit under a quilt with my big dog. I don’t undress until just before my shower, and I have my clothes ready to go for when I’m dry.

    Just like anything else, you get used to the cold temperatures over time.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, Teleia, that’s a bit chilly, I think, for me. I about freeze when I go down to the neighbors and she keeps it at 60.

  11. Kerri says:

    That’s a good point. I also have a small electric heater I use in the office when it gets really cold. I have a nice warm pair of slippers I use in the winter too.

  12. We keep ours at 68 and 65 at night which is about comfortable for me, although because I spend most of the day sitting at a desk, I get cold and have a little electric heater under my desk that I turn on for a few minutes here and there. I also find that wearing shoes makes a big difference (we usually take our shoes off at the door, but in winter I usually leave a pair of sneakers on).