We’re having our first big snowfall today, and it is hitting me – not the snow – but the fact that it’s officially winter. I’m not a total winter hater, I love sipping mugs of hot drinks, cozying up with a blanket and a good book in front of a fire (oh, how I wish we had a working fireplace!), warm sweaters, wool socks and snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. Okay, maybe not that last one, I’ve just heard The Sound of Music soundtrack a few too many times over the past few weeks.
Anyway, I don’t mind winter, the trees do look really pretty covered with freshly fallen snow, but I really don’t like being cold. I would much, much rather be hot than cold. And so, this simple step is not one that I am jumping up and down to do, but just like saving energy by turning off your lights which we talked about last month, turning down your thermostat, even by just a few degrees can make a big impact on the amount of energy you use, as well as on your heating bill.
This month’s Simple Step is to turn down your thermostat at least 2 degrees during the day and 5 or more degrees at night.
And, if you want to take it a step further, you can install a programmable thermostat, if you don’t have one already, which will make this step even easier, because you can program your thermostat to turn down automatically when you are away from home and while you are sleeping.
We installed a programmable thermostat this past year, and programmed it for the first time this fall when we turned on our heat. We are keeping our house at the lowest temperature we’ve ever had it, 62 degrees overnight, 66 degrees for a few hours in the morning, 64 degrees for most of the day, and then 66 again for a few hours in the evening before we go to bed. I know some of my friends keep their houses even colder than that, so if you can go lower – more power to you! (Or less, depending on how you look at it! Ha!)
I’ve found different statistics online, but basically for every degree that you turn your thermostat down, you will use 3-5% less energy and could save anywhere from 2-10% on your heating bill, depending on how much you turn it down and for how long.
From what I’ve read, the savings are most significant if you can keep your heat turned down for at least 8 hours in a row. That’s why we turn our heat up for a few hours in the morning, just to start off the day a little warmer, and then again before bed. But we’re at 64 degrees for 8 hours during the day, and 60 for 8 hours at night.
This is a big change for us, as previously we would usually keep our home heated to 70 degrees, 68 degrees at the lowest, during the day, and maybe 65 degrees overnight – like I said, I don’t like being cold.
Photo by kenna takahashi
But, I am adjusting to the cooler temperatures in our home and realizing there are lots of things that I can do if I am cold besides just turning up the thermostat.
- Make a mug of a hot, steaming drink. I’m working on coming up with more options than just coffee for this, because I don’t want to be drinking caffeine all day.
- Put on extra layers. There are days already that I’ve had on a short sleeve shirt, two long sleeve shirts, and a sweatshirt or sweater on top. I think my next step is to invest in some long underwear that will help keep me warmer.
- Wear wool socks and slippers around the house. I always like to have something on my feet anyway, but wearing wool socks and slippers on our hard wood floors definitely helps my feet to stay warm and cozy.
- Wrap up in a blanket. Often when I’m working at the computer, I have a blanket wrapped around me, or when I sit and read books with my kiddos or watch a movie with my hubby, I use a blanket to snuggle and keep warm.
- Eat lots of warm, yummy soup. We have soup at least once a week now for dinner, and I love to make enough so I have leftovers to eat throughout the week.
- Bake or cook from scratch. Working the kitchen means that I am staying warm when I’m making food, and also means more yummy homemade snacks and food for my family.
- Put on a scarf, and maybe even a hat. It’s amazing how just having an extra layer around my neck can help keep me warm. I haven’t worn a hat inside yet, but I’m definitely not opposed to the idea.
- Use a space heater. There are times when we use one of our small space heaters to warm up a space, like our bedroom or bathroom, for a little while when we’re feeling really cold first thing in the morning or right before bed.
I’m interested to see over the next few months how our gas bills compare to last year. It’s also important to remember to winterize around your house, and we’ll be covering some creative ways to do that next week.
What do you normally keep your thermostat set to in the winter time? Are you willing to turn it down a few degrees this winter to save both energy and money? How do you stay warm and cozy in a cooler house?
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