About four years ago, when our coldest winter months' heating bills were pushing $1000, we started experimenting with turning the thermostat of our ~4000 square foot house down to 63 degrees. We gradually bought electric room heaters for the rooms we frequent, but in truth, it was pretty miserable. I had cold hands and cold feet the whole winter.
We then started investing in energy upgrades for our home and for ourselves, partly for efficiency, partly for comfort. These all require outlays, but if they allow you to keep your thermostat down, they pay back pretty quickly. (Especially in our era of ever higher energy rates.) I was less aware of carbon emissions and climate chaos when we started this project, but I recently noted that as a result of all these changes we have lowered our fossil heating fuel consumption by nearly 50%. Our Monster House heating bills are still high, because the cost of natural gas just keeps on escalating, but had we not embarked on this, our bills would now be $2000 a month! I have learned two basic principals:
- If you're not comfortable, you will not stick with this.
- It's much more efficient to keep yourself warm than to heat the whole house!
On the personal front, I have discovered silk long johns. I particularly like WinterSilks offerings. They add warmth without bulk. Another great product is CuddleDuds; they are smooth on the outside and fuzzy on the inside. I gradually bought enough of all these items so that I always have clean ones! The right socks help, too - I hate super bulky ones, they remind me of ice skating in below zero Fargo winters. My favorites are Wyoming Wear, also smooth on the outside and soft on the inside.
But the all time top luxury which is worth it is - ta dah! - a heated mattress pad! It's the same principal as an electric blanket, but underneath you. Just like in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, where Almanzo's family heated the beds with hot pans from the fireplace, you can turn it on ahead of bedtime to preheat the sheets. We also experimented with microfleece sheets, which are amazingly warm, but I haven't found any more like them.
Lastly, sometimes you have to take off all the warm layers in a cold bathroom. Since our house is old, there is no built-in bathroom heater. This was the most dreaded part of the whole new regime. Eventually it dawned on my to buy a room heater for the bathroom. If I am really organized, I turn it on an hour or so before showering and the room is noticeably warmer. It seems extravagant, but it's only relatively extravagant, since it's just extra heating in one room, not the whole house. For awhile I set the bathroom heater on a timer so it would go on an hour or so before I woke up in the morning, but I dropped that eventually.
Another obvious solution to this challenge, of course, is to buy a smaller house!
Please share any of your strategies for keeping comfortable with lowered thermostats in cold climates.