How We Actually Avoided Turning on our Heat This Past Winter

space heater

In October, I wrote an article entitled “25 Ways to Avoid Turning on Your Heat This Winter.” I included some helpful advice and some silly ones just for laughs. Well, springtime is here and I can say that we actually avoided turning our heat on this winter. Our lowest temperature this winter was 2 degrees, so it’s not like we didn’t need the heat, we just chose to get heat in a more economical way. Our house has oil heat and with the oil prices being at a record high this year, I didn’t want to fork out $800 to fill up our tank. So we looked at every alternative to turning on our oil furnace.

Let me clarify that we didn’t turn our furnace completely off for fear of freezing our pipes in our basement. Our thermostat upstairs was kept at it’s lowest, which is 55 degrees. We would have had to turn the furnace completely off if we wanted to go any lower than that. So when the house dipped below 55, the furnace would turn on and blow semi-warm air into the house. There were a handful of times that we actually turned our thermostat to 65 for 10 minutes to warm up the house, but we never turned it past that and that was literally like 5 times. So “technically” we didn’t avoid turning our heat on completely this winter, but we did manage to make a one-fourth tank of oil last all winter and save ourselves well over $1000. We did this by doing many of the things I suggested last October. Here are a few ideas that were a bit on the creative side:

1. Wear gloves and a hat and a scarf inside (boots probably aren’t necessary).

Ok, we didn’t wear gloves and hats and scarves inside, but we did wear thick socks, warm sweats and sweatshirts pretty much every time we were at home.

2. Exercise and get sweaty. Good luck getting moving when it’s so cold.

More in an effort to lose weight than stay warm, I would often go to the gym or work out at home after work and after I was done, it didn’t seem as cold in the house. Of course this only lasted about a half hour.

3. Catch a cold (and make sure it comes with a fever). This one may cause missed work days.

This was clearly a joke. I made sure I didn’t catch anything because I preferred to be at work where it was warm than go home to a cold house!

4. Go tanning and get burnt. Make sure you find the Aloe Vera first.

Also a joke- didn’t try this one.

5. Take a hot bath. Be careful not to freeze as soon as you get out.

This actually did help take the chill off a few times. The bath water seemed to warm my body temperature a bit and keep me warmer afterwards.

6. Wear slippers (and slipper socks). Be careful – your dog may think its play time.

Our house has hardwood floors so slippers were a MUST. And my dog did think it was play time and would often steal a slipper right off my foot!

7. Drink a hot beverage. Be sure it’s not too hot — a burnt tongue won’t help you stay warm.

I did this a few times, but I actually like cold beverages better — even when it’s 2 degrees outside.

8. Set your house on fire (this only works once). I wouldn’t recommend this choice.

Clearly a joke. It would defeat the purpose of saving money on heating if I have to go out and buy a new house.

9. Warm up with a hairdryer. Don’t try this on the dog — they tend to not like it.

Actually drying my hair did make me a little warmer — for like 5 minutes.

10. Put some clothes on straight out of the dryer. Too bad this one doesn’t last long.

I did this a couple times — it’s so nice to put a sweater on out of the dryer. Better than putting a cold one on off of the floor!

11. Go to someone else’s house and use their heat. You don’t even have to tell them why you’re coming over!

This was our parents’ :)

12. Go for a drive and crank up the heat in your car. Just don’t fall asleep.

I never did this specifically to get warm, but I did enjoy the heat fully cranked on my way to work.

13. Use the oven to cook dinner. Sticking your head or hands in the oven is not a good idea.

Surprisingly the oven does help warm up at least the kitchen area. I think I’ll use this as an excuse to not cook during the hottest summer months.

14. Cuddle up with someone (or with a pet). Although wet noses don’t help the cold situation.

Our puppy is so warm when she cuddles, but boy that cold, wet nose got me everytime!

And some ideas that were a bit more practical:

15. Seal up all drafts from doors and windows. You can use weather-stripping for doors and caulking for windows.

We did exactly this when we could. Some of doors however wouldn’t close with the weather-stripping attached.

16. Replace old doors and windows with more energy efficient ones. This can also get you a tax write off.

Check and check. We bought 7 new vinyl windows and 3 exterior doors to replace all the windows and doors in our house. It only cost us $2000 for all the windows and doors (plus the trim). We had a family member help us put them in. This made an incredible change since our former windows were single pane aluminum and we could see daylight out the sides of our doors when they were closed.

17. Build a fire in your fireplace. This especially works if you have a fireplace insert.

Besides new windows and doors, this was our saving grace. We had fires pretty much every night we were going to be home to enjoy one. Having a fire in our fireplace would heat our house to up to 75 degrees by itself.

18. Turn your thermostat down and turn on a space heater. Just make sure to unplug the heater when you leave. And if you want to use more than one, make sure your electrical system can handle it.

We have 2 space heaters that we used a lot in our house. One was almost always in the kitchen, but I learned to turn it off if I was going to use the dishwasher or microwave because if I didn’t, it would trip the breaker.

19. Seal unused windows with plastic. You can get this stuff really cheap at hardware store.

We didn’t actually get to try this one. We bought the plastic and ended up using some of it to seal an open space in our wall while we were replacing windows, but that was it.

20. Use heavy curtains and close them during the evening to keep warmth in. Open them in the daytime to let sunlight and warmth in.

We did do this, but I don’t think it made much of a difference for us because we don’t have any west facing windows and our two east facing windows are behind a tree.

21. Buy an oil filled radiator heater to heat a single room. You can get one for about $50 and they can increase the temperature in a room by at least 10 degrees (and they don’t need re-filling). *Note — I bought one of these at Target recently and it has enabled us to refrain from turning on our oil heat as of yet. Even when it’s 30 degrees outside, our living room stays at a nice 70 from this heater alone.

This actually worked great when it was 30 degrees outside, but once the temperature dropped below that it didn’t seem to help as much. But we still kept it on as another measure of heating.

22. Close the doors to unused rooms in your house to keep the heat in needed areas.

We kept our spare bedroom door closed and then realized that the vent wasn’t even open in that room. It literally felt like walking into a freezer when going into that room.

23. Use lots of blankets.

We got a lot for Christmas and that was really nice. I piled lots of them on my side of the bed at night and I slept a lot cozier. I also put flannel sheets on our bed to take a bit of the chill off.

24. Buy lots of sweatshirts (and sweat pants).

Did this as mentioned in number 1.

25. Curl up under an electric blanket. Make sure you share.

We bought an electric blanket for $20 at an after Christmas sale — which is actually a pretty good price. A couple days letter we traveled across the state to visit my family and I got another electric blanket for a Christmas present. It was a good thing though because my husband always hogged the one we bought and I was always using the one I got as a gift. These things made a huge difference in keeping us warm. I would put mine between the sheets at night before I went to bed and when I finally got into bed, it was nice and toasty warm. However our puppy discovered that she liked the heated blanket too so whenever I used it, she was always curled up next to me. And if I got up for a minute to go get something, guess who would be curled up in my spot on my heated blanket?

Image courtesy of worldmegan

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9 Responses to How We Actually Avoided Turning on our Heat This Past Winter

  1. Raven says:

    I keep my home cooler than most people I know (average 65F), but there is a line I won’t cross–I have to be able to *live* in my house. Wanting to save money is all well and good, but add up the cost of extra electricity (heating hot water, running the oven and electric blankets, etc.) and of gas to go to the places that are warmer than your home. There was absolutely nothing inspiring in this article.

    Oh, and wool or synthetic blends are MUCH warmer than cotton sweats.

  2. AJC @ 7million7years says:

    … or simply leave your thermostat turned up to 68 degrees, which helps you concentrate on new ways to make money … so much more fun!

    But, I don’t turn it up to 70 … that’s my symbolic way of saying that saving money still matters even when other people think you have enough to burn.

  3. Lauren says:

    At least your puppy is keeping your spot warm for you. 😉

  4. Cindy M says:

    I think electric blankets are invaluable. I’ve used them for years and would not know what to do without them.

  5. Paula says:

    Well, we live in the country, so we heat with wood. It’s free, and hubby stays in great shape chopping wood for the stove!

  6. Hilary says:

    I like electric mattress pads better – the queen/king size ones even have two sets of controls, so that you can put it on but your partner doesn’t have to.

  7. Frugal Momma says:

    I think there are alot of smart thing mentioned here :)

    We don’t go as low as 55 degrees but keep the heat 64-65 degrees. The kids and I dress warm, wear socks. We replaced our windows a couple of years back so that helps too.

  8. Betty says:

    You can also vent your dryer inside for the winter. It will give you extra heat and moisture. Just make sure you put something on the end of the hose to collect the lint.

  9. Sara says:

    We also refrained from heating our apartment all winter and it saved us a lot of money. Being surrounded by other apartments helped, as did living in a not-too-cold city (Seattle avg 35-50F in the winter). The apartment averaged about 59-62F. A lot of your tips were ones we also used.

    Having a drier that vented into the apartment added a few degrees. Wearing fleece sweats with a layer underneath helped a lot (with slippersocks, of course). Most important were the electric blankets and heavy duvet. We have an electric throw blanket for sitting on the couch which was a lifesaver! Luckily I like sleeping in a 60 deg room so after heating the bed for an hour we could turn the electric comforter off and sleep comfortably.

    I thank my father for my ability to withstand a cold house. Our house growing up was rarely over 65. My husband was just happy to save money so he was willing to go along.

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