How Low Can You Go? Taking the No Heat Challenge

By Sierra Black on 27 January 2010 (Updated 3 February 2011) 75 comments
Photo: Neeila

Last fall, The Non-Consumer Advocate turned me on to the No-Heat Challenge. The dare was to keep your heat off until November 1. Fine for her, I thought, she lives in Portland. I made it to the first snowfall, which for us was the second weekend in October. No way I'm sitting in an unheated house through a snowstorm, I thought. No one would do that.

But this week, the New York Times has a story on people who live here in my frigid climate and do not heat their homes. At all. One guy, an artist who lives in his working loft in New York City, has not heated his living space in over thirty years.

I am stunned. I spent my early childhood in Arizona, and when we moved to Buffalo I took my mother's admonitions that I would freeze to death in that weather literally. The idea that people — people with jobs and homes and professional lives and the means to make other choices — choose to live without heat is totally new to me.

The combination of the recession and increasing awareness of global warning has a lot of people looking to cool things down in their own homes this winter. I'd bet most of us aren't ready to give up home heating altogether, but here are a few tricks we can learn from the hardcore heat resisters.

Chill out

Try turning back the thermostat two degrees from your normal setting. Still comfortable? Try turning it down two more. When you hit your personal "too cold" threshold, you can notch back up a bit. You might be surprised how cool you're comfortable keeping your house.

Get a programmable thermostat

These inexpensive devices let you automatically set the heat lower at night and during the day when you're away at work or school. Using one lets you save your heating dollars for the times when you're home and awake, so you get the most bang for the bucks your furnace burns.

Layer up

Wearing a t-shirt indoors while it's sub-zero outside is a luxury whose time has passed. Wear long underwear, warm clothes, wool socks, and sweaters. Don't be afraid to wear a hat indoors, or fingerless gloves. With the right layers, your body heat can do a lot of the work your furnace has been doing, for free.

Add a layer to the house, too

If you haven't insulated your walls yet, now is the time to consider it. We had insulation blown into the walls of our century old house last winter, and our heating bills dropped immediately.

Seal the gaps

It's tedious, but putting plastic over your windows and any drafts in the walls will help keep your home cozy and your heating bills low.

Think small

Do you have a spare bedroom you don't need to be heating all winter? A workshop that could just be warmed with a space heater once in awhile? My house has a huge hallway with two staircases that people walk through but don't spend time in. There's no reason to heat it as warmly as we do the rest of the house.

What adjustments have you made to your home heating strategies this winter? Are you just cranking up the heat as usual, or have you been looking for ways to cut back? Share your tips in the comments.

3.53846
Average: 3.5 (13 votes)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

75 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
Q

We are slogging through our first winter in coastal Maine in a 150 year old house. I am fine layering up during the day and sleeping cold at night, but I am constantly warned/admonished that we have to worry about our water pipes (drinking and heating). I've had two friends have pipes burst this winter. How low can we reasonably turn the heat down at night to save on oil, before we start running up plumbing bills? The former owners suggested we shouldn't set the thermostat in our sunroom (no basement) below 60!

Guest's picture
Toni

keeping it at 50 to 60 degrees is probably a good idea. Broken Pipes will cost you much more..Check out my web site for many tips on insulating and keeping warm

Guest's picture
Q

Toni, what is your URL? Like I said, I'd love to go colder at night, and there is one room in particular that is very poorly insulated but can be cut off from the rest of the house (on it's own thermostat) that I'd love to set down to 50 even during the day, but it has water filled baseboards and I'm concerned about them freezing. It's a converted sunroom that really needs a new foundation.

Guest's picture
Guest

THERE IS ELECTRIC TAPE FOR WATER LINES TO USE WHEN TEMP GOES LOW

Guest's picture
A

A few years, a friend challenged me to see how low I could go. At first I was sceptical, but I kept getting comfortable with lower and lower temperatures (of course adding clothing layers). When I'm not home, I set the temp to 50 degrees; when I'm home, I set it to 54 degrees. This is perfectly comfortable. If I'm not feeling well, sometimes I use a small portable electric heater just in one room.

What I've noticed is that I get sick A LOT less. My friend had told me this way back when, and I've experienced the same thing. Don't know why this happens. I recommend trying this out, exactly as described in the blog. It feels good and saves money.

ALSO--on WNYC they have a house expert call in show once a month. The experts said that most thermostats are set up so that you can't turn it down too low (too low for the pipes to freeze). They confirmed that 50 degrees is fine. I think my thermostat goes down to 45 degrees. Hope this helps.

Guest's picture
Kim

A,
You get sick less because our bodies are not used to drastic changes in temperature or climate. Contrary to popular belief, being cold does not lower your immune system. What does is the constant shock put on our body from going from hot to cold. By keeping your inside temperature rather low, you're taking a lot of unneeded stress from your joints and your immune system because your body is in a smaller fluctuation of temperature.

Guest's picture
Jonathan

Any chance I could get a link to the NYT article?

Guest's picture
Guest

I live in Saskatchewan, Canada... it can get below -40c/f (same difference at that point) parts of the winter. While I wouldn't keep my heat completely OFF during the winter, I do keep the temperature around 15c in my home ("room" temperature is considered 21c, sorry I don't know the conversions) during evening/night and any time that I am not home and the warmest it gets when we are home is 17c. I have friends who can't STAND to visit because they feel that if it is cold outside they should be WARM inside and no amount of telling them to wear a sweater seems to get through to them. BUT i have been able to cut my heating bill almost in half in the year and a half I have lived in this suite -- my payments LAST year (based on what the former tenants used)were $80/mth and this year have dropped to $53/mth...
Keeping it cooler isn't that hard for us... my kids have gotten used to wearing warm clothes inside, socks to bed, and we have invested in extra throws and blankets and duvets for beds and seating areas!

Guest's picture
Kim

Hubby and I had this same conversation, we'll creep it down by 2 degrees today. We're currently at 65, but the power bill shocked us this month. We rent a poorly-insulated condo, and placed insulation in obvious cold gluts, and closed the vent and door to the 2nd bedroom, curtains, towels at the windows/door. But we can't do what is really necessary - cut holes in the walls to blow insulation in!

I know some people keep the heat at 75! That shocked me. Seriously, what is their heat bill like?!

Guest's picture

Since I've lived in mostly tropical places growing up, I don't really have a sense for how much heating can affect your utility bill. How significant of a difference will turning your thermostat down from 75 to 65 degrees make? Over the course of winter what kind of savings could you roughly expect to save. I know that there's a lot of things at play here size of house, insulation, how cold it gets, but how much do you guys think you're saving?

Guest's picture
Jennifer

This is the first winter in 3 years that my rent has not included electricity, so I really didn't know what to expect. I'm in Virginia. My bill went from $87 for November to $159 for December. I was shocked! Normally I keep my thermostat at 70 degrees and I am comfy except for my fingers, which get cold. Now I have the thermostat at 68. Not too bad. Not as bad as I expected. I do try to spend as much time upstairs where it is a bit warmer, though. This article has inspired me to try 67 degrees now. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Guest

Since when is 159 a lot for heating???

Guest's picture

I live in an apartment building with radiator heat so we have no control over the temperature. The heat is either on or off, and we control how tropical it gets by opening and closing the windows. It's a little like living in a college dorm. But we also have an infant, and I'm not sure I'd embrace living in a 55-degree house with a tiny person around. I don't really want to put her down to sleep in 18 layers, and you're not supposed to use blankets until they're at least a year old for various reasons. Many of the suggestions here make sense--don't heat unused rooms, wear layers, get a programmable thermostat--but I wouldn't keep it arctic in a home with children in it.

Guest's picture
Guest

@Kate: What you need is a good, heavy sleep sack for a baby. GroBag's 2.5 tog ones are wonderful, and they go up to like 3T in sizes. My son sleeps happily in one over a pair of good cotton pajamas. They're expensive, but you only need one or two for as long as your child wears that size.

Guest's picture

I rent, so I'm at the mercy of the landlord's failure to properly insulate my townhome. And his hardwood floors are lovely, but chilly! I have lots of area rugs, and I lap small ones against the bottoms of outside doors to block cold air from rushing in. Have hung quilts (clothespinned) to the backs of my thermal curtains for extra insulation at the windows, along with plastic taped over the windward windows (It's dark in here). The two front windows are getting the shrink-wrap treatment this weekend!

I've been determined to beat the electric company on their estimates for my budget plan every year, and consistently I've dropped the monthly billing, until this year - they've filed for several rate increases and it's going up a LOT! I've had the thermostat set at 60 when I'm not there or asleep for over a month, but I'm inspired now to drop it lower.

On my two-bedroom townhouse in the mid-Atlantic region of the US and keeping my thermostat at 68 when I was home and 64 at night and during working hours, I was paying approximately $65 per month - total electric, of course. ;(

In December (coldest month in years, lots of snow and high winds with dangerous wind chills) my bill jumped to $150 (thankfully I had a credit balance at that point). I hadn't changed a thing in my usage, the furnace just ran that much.

That also reflects their rate increase.

Hopefully the changes I've made will drop it down - I guess I'll see in two weeks when the bill comes in.

Guest's picture
Guest

@Nana Sadie - whoa, I'm jealous! Same situation, except I am my landlord & can't afford to put in new windows :-\
I've put up plastic on most of my windows, and this winter, keeping my house at 55 all day has put my bill at $210 for Dec!!
(same as you, hardwood floors, 2 bedrooms, mid-Atlantic)

I'm wondering if part of my problem is that keeping it at 55 has my water heater working harder? My water heater is located on the coldest floor of the house, last year I experimented with raising the temp to 60, but the bottom floor never got above 50... the cold air just leeches in, somehow..

Guest's picture

Love, thy name is programmable thermostat.

If I lived alone I would always keep the thermostat at 60 degrees during the day, but as a parent, I worry that the kids (and their friends) would get cold. So instead, I keep the thermostat at 64 degrees while he kids are getting ready for school and in the late afternoon when they get home, and at 60 while they're gone. But I have noticed on the odd weekday when there's no school that they're perfectly content and deny any chilliness. (This, despite their insistence on wearing T-shirts in the dead of winter.)

In fact, I get uncomfortably warm when I go to people's houses that are set at 68 degrees.

Your article has inspired me to challenge myself a little further and to ramp it down another notch to 63 degrees.

Let's see if any notices . . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

Guest's picture
Ginny

I decided to work on the gas bill this winter, so I'm set at 61 in the daytime, 57 at night. I wear a sweater, socks and ankle-covering slippers at home. I have a little portable space heater for when I take a shower. It has worked fine, and my highest bill so far has been $100, compared to around $175 last year.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm game to turn my thermostat waaay down--but in addition to fearing frozen pipes, I've realized that my fridge doesn't run if the temperature is under about 57 degrees. I've been forced to keep my poorly insulated condo at around 60 all time, or run the risk of perishable food going bad. The condo is pretty much open plan, so this means I'm heating a huge amount of space all the time, even when I'm not there. :b

Guest's picture
MDale2

I lived just south of Erie, PA a couple years ago in an older home - the insulation wasn't so great. Here's an example of how turning back the thermostat just a small bit truly affects the bill. For reference, the home used natural gas forced air heat (age of furnace - 60 years old!), typical temps in the winter range from 10-35 deg. F, and the bill also covered my hot water heater.

NG Bill January 2007: $278, thermostat temp: 65
NG Bill February 2007: $174, t. temp: 60
NG Bill March 2007: $156, t. temp: 58

I don't recommend EVER living in a home with a (forced air) furnace that old or poor insulation. Another lesson learned on my part...

7 degrees made a difference of $122/month on the bill. Considering you can expect fairly high heating bills from November-April, turning the temp back was INDEED a big savings. I turned it back even further to 55, but the difference wasn't enough to justify the cold.

Now that I live in a slightly warmer area and use purely electric heat (heat pump), with all home electric usage - heat, hot water, appliances, etc. - an affordable bill ($150ish) is attained keeping the heat at 60-65 range.

Guest's picture
Jim

"NG Bill January 2007: $278, thermostat temp: 65
NG Bill March 2007: $156, t. temp: 58
...
7 degrees made a difference of $122/month on the bill."

Its much colder in January than March. So much of the difference in your bill was simply due to it being warmer in March.

Guest's picture
mdale2

Have you lived in the Erie area?

March can easily be just as cold as January, if not colder. We also get "heatwaves" in December, so honestly, it averages out.

We get snowstorms into mid-April.

Guest's picture
Stefanie

i live in portland too, and i try my best not to heat my condo apartment. i just can't afford it - if my electric bill goes beyond $70/ mo., i have to seriously start cutting back on food to make up the difference. this year has been pretty good so far (knock on wood!), but last year with several major snowstorms that had us stuck in the house for days, we were not nearly so lucky.

we layer up here - there are several blankets on the couch and the bed, and we have a plethora of slippers, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and sweaters for hanging out and sleeping in if necessary. it makes life cozy :).

Guest's picture

I work at home and don't turn on the central heat during the day unless I absolutely have to. I dress in warm layers and wear a hat or scarf when needed. I also use a heating pad on my office chair, positioned at my lower back.

I had been running the heat only at night until I discovered an electric mattress pad a couple of months ago. Greatest invention ever. I turn it on about an hour before I go to bed and slip between toasty sheets. Keeps me warm all night, and lowered my electric bill.

Guest's picture
Carla

While my husband is at work, I often turn the heat back to 63º or even lower. However, he positively shivers at 66º and I'm just not sure he's going to be a willing penguin with me. The really bad drawback is being in public places where the heat is sometimes 10 or more degrees higher than I've accustomed myself to. It can be miserable.

Having said all that, the real challenge here in Northeast Texas is not heat but air conditioning. A brick house, facing south and with few trees can climb into the 90s inside without air. The air conditioning will run nonstop at the height of summer. Makes me LOVE winter!

Guest's picture
Rosa

55 is not that cold - I was raised in a 55 degree house, and we keep our heat between 58 and 62 (64 sometimes for guests). When my son was an infant we layered baby longjohns under footie pajamas and he was always fine.

The thing that's hard is switching temperatures - it's hard for your body to get used to a new temperature, and it's hard to be acclimated or dressed properly if you're going from a 75 degree office to a -20 outdoors to a 65 degree house.

Guest's picture
Rosa

For cost savings, I found this (about programmable thermostats):

"By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill"

I found it here: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/my...

I have read that the closer you are to the ambient temperature, the less energy per degree you are spending/saving - so a drop from 68 to 58 saves more for us (at 0 outside right now) than for someone living in a place where it's 50 degrees outdoors, and saves more than a drop from 58-48. Which makes sense, but i couldn't find a source just now.

Guest's picture
Guest

I live in the Bay Area so not *cold* but it can get chilly in the winter but I can honestly say I've never turned on a heater in my life. Weird huh?
I am very warm blooded!
My house was built in 1926 and my husband thinks it's freezing ("you can hang meat in here!")
Not looking forward to menopause! :)

Guest's picture

Seal the gaps can really pay off. Go around and feel you will find out where your heat is leaking. Since we in out home spend a majority of our time in one room we simply turn the heat way down and use an electric space heater in that room. The cost per BTU for electricity is not much more than propane.

Guest's picture
alex in central minnesnowta

heating my 2 story farm style house with $675 worth of saw dust pellets and $ 270 of hard wood and staying toasty.

keep it at nice 74 degrees
if i want i can have it at 78 degrees lol.

fuel oil use at a minimum.

havent burned 100 gallons in 2 winters!!!

and ill still have some fuel oil left!!!

Guest's picture
ND

It is 6 below zero actual temp and due to be 35below zero with windchills tonight, so I am going to have to pass. We have actually had to plug in a space heater in the great room because the cold is seeping in from everywhere. Thankfully we have electric blankets, but not turning the heat off or down until it gets to the point where your wet hair won't freeze if you step outside.

Guest's picture
Guest

Frankly I don't go below 65 during the day(I work from home). Even at that temperature often all I want to do is curl up under a blanket and stay warm. Layering clothes doesn't change that. So some of us tend to go into hibernation mode based on the ambient temp in the house:-)

Guest's picture
Meria

Right now we just got a programmable thermostat today! but we keep it at around 73-75 :-( wish we could go lower. ...

Guest's picture
Anna

Right now, we have ours at 71. My right hand is cold and pruny here. I don't know why.

Guest's picture
Em

There's a huge difference between radiant and forced air heat. Our last house had a furnace and 65 degrees was pushing it. The new house has radiators, and we keep it at 60 and are comfortable. We did a heat challenge earlier this year and stuck it out to about 54 degrees. The problem is that what's comfortable when you're wearing layers doesn't work when you're showering. Our long-term plan is to heavy up the heat in the bathroom with radiant in-floor heating and a heat lamp for nakey time.

Babies are not just fine but better off with cooler air, barring unusual respiratory problems. You need to dress them warmly, but it doesn't take a lot, just lightweight cotton under and a fleece coverall and something on their noggins.

Guest's picture
Claudia

I know this is bad but I hate freezing. I grew up in Africa where we never heated and now in Austria I am cold. I have how ever set the thermostat to switch lower in the night and i sleep with more clothes and thick socks - so sexyah this house is old I'm sure it looses a lot of heat.

Once the heating system broke down and the technician could only come 2 days later and damn it was cold. But still mankind has survived thousands of years in cold weather, even before he invented heating so it must be doable. Brrrrr....

Guest's picture
Julie

Although I'm very frugal by nature, heating is one thing I won't budge on. For one thing, I live in upstate New York where it gets around 0 degrees F in the dead of winter. For another thing, there have been studies that show that the colder your house is, the more likely you are to be depressed, anxious, and otherwise unhappy. And it's been my experience that depressed people spend more money ;)

Sierra Black's picture

Julie,

This is always a balancing act for me: how much can I cut back on heating without making myself *feel* cold. I have a pretty low tolerance for being cold, and find myself getting seriously depressed, anxious and edgy when I'm chilled. Which leads to less productivity, and so less income. Plus I'm no fun to be around.

 

Sierra Black - embracing the wild heart of parenting at www.childwild.com

Guest's picture
Eleanor

Circumstances forced us to reinsulate our attic and to install a new HVAC system, at which time we also put in a programable thermostat. We also use a space heater in my husband's workshop, and we close the vent in the guest bedroom.
I believe that it is easier for some people to turn the thermostat down in the winter, and that for others, it is easier to turn it up in the summertime. I live in Atlanta, where winters are relatively mild, and summers can be scorching. Our A/C died of old age in late July. Since we were experiencing the mildest summer in over 25 years, we challenged ourselves to wait until fall to replace the entire HVAC system. Thanks to shade trees, ceiling fans, and a window box fan, we made it through the rest of the summer in relative comfort. We waited until December, when we began experiencing the coldest winter in many years before we replaced the HVAC. Personally, I have learned that I can live without A/C easier than I can live without heat in the winter. I look forward to this summer. Perhaps someone will initiate a "no air conditioning" challenge.

Guest's picture
Kristina

We lived without a heater for years, before installing central air/heat, mostly for the air conditioning (which we also didn't have) when my brother married a woman with MS. Summer here in central California lasts about 8 months, about 3 of them really, really hot, so cooling is our main expense.

We still mostly heat with wood in a fireplace insert, which keeps the main room between 65-68, sometimes warmer. But the outer regions of the house stay pretty cool. I prefer beetling around a cool house doing chores, and then going by the fire to warm up when I get too cold. Once we got the central heat, I found that keeping it warm enough for when I'm being still made it far too warm for when I'm busy, which is mostly always.

I read the NYT article, and what struck me most about these people going without heat, was all the people in NY who would prefer not to survive at 15 or 20 degrees and can't afford heat. Frankly, the tone of the piece rubbed me the wrong way, more like some sort of affected puritanical ideal, rather than mere sensible frugality.

Guest's picture
Guest Suzy1

We live in the Bay Area where it gets chilly but rarely gets below freezing. Our home was built in the late 70's & has very little insulation. My husband has never paid attention to costs & in years past I would often come home to find the heat set at 80! He of course never listened to my pleas regarding turning the heat down. It has been between 53 & 60 degrees in my home all winter.

In 2009 we both had been unemployed so money has been very tight. We heat with propane which means we must have our propane tank filled in order to have heat & hot water. I informed him in Nov. that I would not be paying for propane so we could not use the furance in order to make the propane we had last longer. It is now the end of January & we have not used the furnace at all this winter. We do have a fireplace which helps to keep the living room warm. I will need to have the tank filled next month but in past years I have had to fill it in late November or early December. We have saved at least $400 on propane. The bigger picture may be that he now sees how much he had been wasting & the need for insulation.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

After growing up in Michigan, the winters here in Texas are almost balmy most days (seriously, 70 degree days in early January). So most of the year I don't heat my house. I will turn it on (60 when I'm not home or am asleep, 63 when I am. The cats aren't thrilled with the 60, but I leave fleece blankets around and they snuggle with each other and survive).

The harder part for me is going as long as I can without air conditioning. I've made it to Memorial Day weekend the past two years and plan to try again this year, but it all depends on when the wind shifts and the 100 degree days start.

Guest's picture
Ginny

I cannot say enough positive things about goose down comforters.

Guest's picture
catastrophegirl

this is my first winter in my own home and the house had an addition put on in the 1970's that caused a need for second dual stage heat pump. i tend to keep the addition a little warmer anyway because that's the room my old arthritic dog sleeps in.
the main part of the house only gets a little airflow from the addition due to the angle of the single connecting doorway.

i came home wednesday to find that the thermostat in the main part of the house had finally failed.
i already own the replacement programmable thermostat but just hadn't put it in and i still can't until the weekend.
for a couple of hours i thought about moving to the sofa in the addition for the remaining nights of the week but after a little time getting used to it, it turns out i am pretty comfy in the unheated part.

outside is in the 30's at night here but the main part of the house is about 60 degrees and the addition is at 67. the first night i wore my coat in the house. but tonight i'm wearing a t shirt and feeling quite comfy.

we are expecting possibly up to a foot of snow the next 48 hours though so i may end up sleeping on the sofa for the weekend.

Guest's picture
Lisa

Hi! We have no heat on now. We live in Ohio in the upper half of a house. If people weren't living downstairs I would have to turn the heat on. It is 50 - 60 degrees in each room. Our bedroom is the coldest at 50 -55 degrees.Be careful, the pipes will freeze. The landlord didn't have it turned up enough last winter, when no one living downstairs & pipes froze , then water started running out the side of the laundry room when they thawed. The electric baseboard heat will NOT come on like someone said when it gets too low , if not turned on to at least 55 degrees at least . It is cold in here.We sleep with 2-3 down comforters & we put fleece blanket over head with a hole left to breath out. By morning I'm usually sweating .It is 12 degrees outside right now. This house doesn't have insulation, except some in attic, none in walls.here is an excellent site on electric usagehttp://michaelbluejay.com/:
I was reading an article on heating in Europe this past week. They have to put money in a meter attached to their house for heat. Like you want heat for 5 hours , put in the money. Lots more of us would be hurting if it was that way here.Here is the link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/17/eating-heating-furniture-cold-weather
WE keep it off except when gets colder than this or taking bath to keep the bill down. Last winter the electric bill was $200 & it never got above 62 degrees in here. So far it's been highest $84.

Guest's picture
Croatian1

Here in MN our home is set at 70 degrees across the board on our programable thermostat. When it gets into the minus degree weather, we go up to 72. Natural gas prices are low this year. We have a 3 bedroom home and to keep it nice and warm it costs all of $58 a month. This also includes our water heater and stove which are both gas. We are on a budget plan so it is the same amount each month that we pay. Come summer when we do not use much we get credit on our bill. I just cannot subject family, friends and especially our 2 year old grandson to freezing temps when they come. And yes, I do avoid going to some friends houses who insist that 60-62 degrees is fine. I will not wear a hat or gloves while I am at home. Do we layer, sure. I love my sweats and fuzzy socks in the winter. But scarves, gloves, hats and longjohns are for when I am going to be outside, not inside! Oh, and the friends who do keep their houses cold, everyone of them has perpetual colds all winter, so you will never convince me it is healthier!

Guest's picture

"Wearing a t-shirt indoors while it's sub-zero outside is a luxury whose time has passed"

Uh, no. Have fun freezing your asses off people.

Guest's picture

global warming. lol. what a crock. It's like saying Al gore invented the internet. Also not true. :0

we set our heater low to save money. not because of global warming. no such thing. We had record breaking snow fall this year. 50+ inches. Dont tell Al.

Guest's picture
Guest

We have a 3 story total 1240 square foot townhouse, built in 1985, all electric no gas, we keep our heating between 70-72 degree, before we get all window replace it's $240 last month, after replaced all window it becomes $195 this month, we are in northern VA. We use 400-800 watt space heater as well.

Guest's picture
Guest

We hang both blinds and curtains on every window and also curtain on the entrance where doesn't have a door, added wind blocker on door end and seal the side of entrance door, and it keep our room much warmer.

Guest's picture
Steve

I have a programmable and keep it set at 55 during the work day and 68 for awake hours and 62 at night. I have city based steam heat. Save money monthly.

I do not understand turning up the heat when it is colder outside. The thermostat is there to keep the temp at constant no matter what the outside is. It call comes down to how important saving a few bucks is to a family. Call people names and poking fun at those who are trying only exemplifies ones state of mind.

Guest's picture
j

I can't speak for a home/condo heat, but in the office, the A/C kicks in to maintain that constant temp you are talking about. The AC is not only a waste of money but also means blasting freezing air right on employees heads. Hardly comforting or environmentally friendly. People coming in from the outside when it's cold, expect the inside to be warm, not freezing cold.

Guest's picture
Charlie

Here's a challenge for next year. I live in a 3 bedroom 1200 sq ft ranch in wisconsin. I use indoor window film and tape to close off my living room, one bedroom, the hallway to the bedrooms(use it like a curtain to reduce air flow) and the forced air heat registers in those rooms and the other 2 bedrooms. Sealing the registers didn't really matter much because I NEVER TURNED ON MY LP FURNACE LAST WINTER because the thermometer doesn't go down low enough. I live in the kitchen and dining room. I use a heating pad to preheat my bed before going to bed. I have an electric heater on a timer to heat my bathroom so that it is warm when I need to use it in the morning. I have another elec heater for the kitchen/dining room and while I am in there I wear several layers of clothes, a hoody and cheap cloth gloves. I have a thermometer that rings when it gets near freezing but my water pipes only got into the upper 30's(I have my own well). It has been as cold as 34 degrees in my bedroom in the morning and it is usually in the lower 50's where I spend most of my time. My avg monthly elec bill(includes heating) was about $70 for Dec/Jan/Feb. Elec goes down some because the fridge doesn't work as hard..grin...and I've switched all my lights over to CF's.

Guest's picture
Charlie

Oh Ya...never had one cold or the flu. Did not get a flu shot(either type). I was unemployed and spent almost every day at home and since colds and flu are caught from others who catch them from animals(bird/swine/etc.) not from low temps, my lack of illness is not surprising. Plan on doing again next year. Global warming is an outdated label as the true name to describe what we are doing to the planet is Global climate change. Some people seem to have trouble understanding that but eventually natural selection will take over. Those that prepare for it will survive and those that don't....well.......weaker members of a species that don't adapt go extinct.

Guest's picture
David

LMAO, I have hit 45 in my house once. My average winter temps in my house at 55. You can go very low and save money.

Guest's picture
Guest

We live in NW montana but stay toasty year round since we have a wood stove and can gather wood from all around us. Usually our utility bill (including all electricity) is $50 on a high month. More often it is about $35 which is nice because we can use the savings to pay for groceries up here (which are very high compared to other parts of the country I have been in!)

Guest's picture
Guest

I TRY NOT TO TURN ON THE HEATER
I COOK/BAKE IN THE EVENING TO WARM THE HOUSE
I IRON/VACUUM TO WARM UP (ALOT)
I USE AN ELECTRIC BLANKET
I PUT UP SHOWER OR REGULAR CURTAINS WHERE I DON'T WANT TO HEAT/COOL IE: HALLWAYS ETC...
LIVE ON SECOND FLOOR, NEIGHBORS DO WARMING FOR ME, FREE
HAVE FRIEND TURN OFF THE PILOT LIGHT:CAN'T TURN ON HEATER THEN FOR SURE

Guest's picture

this is my first winter in my own home and the house had an addition put on in the 1970's that caused a need for second dual stage heat pump. i tend to keep the addition a little warmer anyway because that's the room my old arthritic dog sleeps in.
the main part of the house only gets a little airflow from the addition due to the angle of the single connecting doorway.

Guest's picture
j

all fine and dandy, but cold air is hard to breathe, and people prone to sinus infections and other respiratory problems can't deal with cold air.

I refuse to be cold, plain and simple. But then I deserve this little luxury, I don't drive a car and I don't use A/C.

Guest's picture
Guest

46 degrees in my house now

Guest's picture
Anna

My fingers get pruny as I type here. What to do about that?

Guest's picture
Aaron

I'm in Nebraska and haven't used my furnace yet this year. So far, the lowest temperature that I've seen on my thermostat was 50 F, and that was just a couple days ago. Living in a 600sf apartment, this isn't a huge challenge because some heat transfers from my neighbors through the walls, ceiling, and floor. I imagine the building would get quite cold otherwise. So, partly at my neighbors expense, I've been paying about $25 a month for electricity this winter.

Guest's picture
guest111

This would be impossible for many people living with arthritis or other ailments. If you get cold your joint become very painful and achy. I think there is a big difference between walking around your house in a t-shirt in the dead of winter and having it warm enough to be comfortable with a sweater on. I will not freeze just to save some money. There are many other areas to cut back on but heat is not one of them!

Guest's picture
Guest

I wouldn't take that New York loft guy's lack of heating seriously. There's a possibility that he had people living in apartments above, below, across the hall, both sides of him all setting their thermostats at appropriate temps. He may only have one side that actually faces the elements. With all that "insulation" surrounding him, he could probably get by just fine most winters. I'd almost consider him a leech. He's stealing the heat from his neighbors without providing any of his own. I guess that doesn't matter since he's saving the world.

Guest's picture
Guest

Comfort aside, it is simply not possible for anyone in a detached house to keep the heat off completely in a climate which dips below freezing during the winter. The pipes would freeze and burst. It is much more doable for someone in an apartment to not turn on their heat - they are partially heated by the apartments around them, and do not need to worry about pipes freezing. My brother used to wait until mid-winter to turn on the heat in his apartment - his daytime temps never dipped below 55 or so, despite living in a cold northern climate. Now, if none of his neighbors turned on their heat, that would be a different story. That would be quite disasterous for the building.

I don't go so far as to never turn on the heat (in a detached house in New Hampshire, I simply have to have the heat on durng the winter, even when we're on vacation) but I do keep it at a moderate temp. 67 is the highest we'd ever set it, and it's set to 55 during the day when we're not here, and we often keep it at 61 during the day when we are here. 61 is also a very good sleeping temperature.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow, Im shocked that there was a "challenge" to not turn your heat on until November 1. This is my fourth heating season as a homeowner and not one year have I turned my heat on before November 1. And last year my roommates and I employed a new strategy for saving money on heat.

We kept the house thermostat at 46. Yes, that's right, 46. Then, we bought two 1500 watt oil-filled electric radiators and simply heated each out of respective living spaces and that was it.

Setting my oil furnace to 46 kept the house from freezing and we only heated the rooms we were in which is his bedroom and my basement living room. Worked GREAT! And saved us a TON on using expensive oil.

The only downside is when you venture out to other parts of the house it was very chilly, but this is only done to use the bathroom or kitchen then we go straight back to our individual living areas.

Guest's picture
Guest

I live in a 5300 sq ft brick building built in 1883, with lathe and plaster walls, wood floors, and 12 ft tin ceilings.....ALONE. Do you really think Im going to be keeping my temp at 70? hahahha. It is 54 degrees in my house right now my friends, and its only nov 1. I sleep with 3 blankets, I wear hat gloves scarf, layers and coats. Its not that bad, I am getting used to it. I simply cannot afford a heat bill the size of my mortgage payment. Id rather have looked back at the end of each month and had to have just bundled up a little more, rather than have to be shelling out over $1000 in gas bc I was too much of a pussy to bundle up and make some adjustments in my lifestyle. Man up, it wont kill you.

Guest's picture
swingingby

Glad I am not the only one. It's 56 degrees in here at 10am PST(it was 54 when I got up) and I have on 3 sweatshirts and my little space heater is keeping me warm. I refuse to shell out money to PG&E, who raised their rates. 65% of my income(I'm retired)goes towards my overhead which includes my mortgage, which I cant qualify to refinance.
Bundling up is no big deal.

Guest's picture
swingingby

I live in the Bay area of Calif and when the temp in the house goes below 55, the furnace goes on. But that is rare and only when my family visits me.
I use three space heaters in the areas where I sit and the rest of the rooms in the house are closed. Even though I have a fire place, I stopped burning wood because of the concern for air pollution. Sometimes the air outside and inside is the same temp
so it seems warm.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm from a warm climate, but I'm currently living in Japan. Apparently the Japanese do not believe in central heating, and you are lucky if you have a wall heater. During the day I turn my AC/heater off. But seeing as heating is expensive over here, I've learned many ways to stay warm.

1.Drink plenty of warm drinks. This helps keep you toasty from the inside out. Plus if helps keep you hydrated so your body functions better, keeping you warmer too.
2. Take long hot baths. As hot as you can stand. After a while, the heat really sinks in and you feel toasty even after getting out of the bath.
3. Dress like it's winter, even indoors. I've found that I get strange looks for dressing in short sleeves even indoors. (Not that I do anymore because the schools where I work don't have heating. And some of the classrooms even have the windows open when it's like 40 degrees outside.)
4. Change your socks. After awhile your socks get damp and makes your feet even colder.
5. Keep your body core warm. I find a lot of times I get cold hands and feet because my body is trying to keep the vital parts of me warm. So if I keep my core warm, my body doesn't have to work as hard to keep the rest of me warm.

All in all I rarely have my heater on. (Usually just on nights I have washed my hair instead of doing it in the morning and drying it then.) My favorite way to stay warm is with a kotatsu (a table with a heater underneath you can sandwich a blanket in between the frame and table top. The blanket traps all the hot air from the heater. This way you only have to heat a very small area and several people can stay toasty warm with this alone. ) but unless you live in Japan, that's not really an option.

Guest's picture
Guest

Parents expecially should keep in mind the sensitivity of their children; their comfort and health. It seems colder homes have started from a cold heart and not wanting to put their buck where it counts. God Bless our little ones.

Guest's picture
Andy

I keep my heat at about 50 degrees in Michigan in the winter. where a hat. Most heat escapes from your head.

Guest's picture
Linda

I live in a white winter zone. This winter I have my heat set at 58 degrees during the day and 56 at night. I dress warmly so I don't get cold when I am up moving around. I do get cold when I sit for long periods of time so I use a heated electrical throw at my computer desk and a wool throw for TV watching. I also use a space heater in my bathroom so I can shower more comfortably. Doing all this saves me about $100/mo. That is money I can spend on more desireable things than my electric bill.

Guest's picture
Guest

I like a cold house and only heat when guests are here or it is really really cold!! The motto in my house when we were young was "Just because you came inside doesn't mean you need to take off your coat!!"

Guest's picture
Guest

Denver area, this year I keep heat down very low. When it got very cold recently, below 0 outside, it got down to 32 degrees upstairs. I had to put a light under the kitchen sink, when the hot water froze. Luckily I caught it time and it started running again after a few minutes. I wear two hooded sweat shirts, sweat pants and socks to bed. When it gets real cold I turn on my electric mattress pad. Some times I wear gloves. I do use a portable heater in the bath room to preheat before a shower. I think if there was a power failure we would get along a lot better than most.