Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Staying toasty the Simple-Green-Frugal way

Earlier this month, when we received our gas bill, I totally freaked. We went from $21 last month to $52 this month! Surely this must be a mistake. But no, there was no mistake. The difference? Heating the house. That did it. We cranked the thermostat down really low (I'm not sure it has gone off in the weeks since) and braced ourselves for some colder indoor temps. 

This is probably a bit easier for Dave than it is for me. I get cold easily and can't seem to warm myself up without some serious intervention of direct heat (a nice cup of tea works well). During the day, I've been layering clothes, snuggling under blankets (Kelsey likes to snuggle under the blanket with me), taking walks, and sipping that nice warm tea. But bedtime? Well, that's a whole other matter. 

We've never been big on heating the whole house at night when it's just the two of us using one room all night long. So at least this thermal intervention wasn't without trial. We attacked the nighttime with two a two pronged approach - the one that works for Dave and the one that works for Heather.

Intervention #1 - The heated blanket. Why heat up the whole house when you can simply heat the bed? Some people get nervous at the thought of an electric blanket, having visions of waking up on fire. Not me. If I catch fire, at least I die warm. Gotta stay positive, right? No really, the electric blanket never really scared me, so it's a fabulous, very frugal solution to staying nice and toasty in the cold nighttime hours (yep, it gets pretty cold even way down here in Texas).

Intervention #2 - The heating pad. While the electric blanket is great, it doesn't take much to warm Dave up. And to be honest, the temperature setting at which he's most comfortable, I can't even feel the heat. Enter the heating pad. This little gem also plugs in (I must be a fireman's worst nightmare) right next to the bed and is placed underneath me so that I have the heat coming from below (the heating pad) and above (the electric blanket). This definitely does the trick. Then if I wake up at night and feel a little chilled, I just whip that heating pad on and within seconds, I'm warm and right back to sleep. (BTW, that's the temperature in our bedroom when we got up Tuesday morning, but we were toasty warm in the bed for sure!)

If you have children, or others in the house, heating the entire house may be your best bet, but keeping it local/only in the rooms you are using at night is a definitely a simple-green-frugal way to go. This time, I'm looking forward to our heating bill. Come on, gas company. Show me what you got!

P.S. If you're still freezing your tushie off during the day, bake! No one needs to know you spent your day in a lawn chair in front of the oven...


Jena said...

I'm a big fan of heating blankets too. My Mom got us the nice one with dual controls so I can have my side as warm as I want while he has his at 1 or 2. I do sometimes wake up and be too hot so I try to turn it down a couple notches just before I fall asleep. Glad you're staying warm!

Anonymous said...

We live in North Texas and rely on layered blankets for the evening. We have some old quilts made by my great grandmother with flannel backings, some wool blankets, and a few thermals. Each bed has about 6 blankets on it. The kids beds getting a few queen size blankets folded in half. I get shared body head with the dh. I don't like the cold either so dh gets up an hour earlier than me and turns the heat on (heat pump, so we haven't saved up for the pricy programmable thermostat). The heat stays on long enough for everyone to get read ready for work and school and then is turned off again for the rest of the day. During the day I rely on opening the south facing curtains for the sun to warm the house and and I stay in that part of the house during the day. On cloudy days I take that as a sign that I am supposed to cuddle under a blanket and read a good book or crochet.

Anna in Atlanta said...

I turn the heat down pretty low (59-60°) at night, and sleep with with big fluffy covers (I like the weight, too) and sometimes the heating pad. I just made myself a feed-corn-filled bedwarmer, which I LOVE! Four minutes in the microwave, and it heats up the mattress before I get in and stays warm and snuggly for 4-5 hours.

I got oil-filled space heaters for the kids. Their rooms heat up by the time the house cools off, and the furnace isn't working to heat the rest of the house while we're sleeping. So far, so good.

Green Resolutions said...

Your puppy is sooo cute!

I also wanted to tell you that my grandmother uses a cloth bag filled with rice and heated in the microwave to warm her feet when she gets in the bed. I've done this a couple of times and it is so nice :)

Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

This year I bought flannel sheets for the first time ever and WOW can they get toasty!! I am going to try a few of the other ideas because the initial shock of the cold bed really wakes me up.

Heather @ SGF said...

Jena - Ooh, you're blanket sounds nice! We've been looking at one that has dual control like that and it's a matress pad instead of a blanket. But we're waiting to get our new bed first. So you like the dual control? What brand did you get?

Anonymous - I like how you just go with the flow, enjoying the warmest rooms during the day, and resolving to snuggle and crochet when it's just too cold. I'm working on a baby blanket now. That might just be the thing to do :)

Anna - So tell me about your corn-filled bed warmer. How big is it? How did you make it?

Green Resolutions - That must be similar to Anna's idea. I guess it's just like the rice-filled sock we warmed up and put on my grandma's knee after she fell. Sounds cozy!

Oh, and Kelsey says "thank you" for the compliment :)

Wife to 1, Mom to 5 - we've talked about flannel sheets, but Dave gets warm pretty easily and I worry that it would be too warm for him. Does your hubby tend to run warm? And if so, the sheets don't bother him?

Anonymous said...

we got a whopping 200 dollar gas bill last month! after i picked myself up off the floor i phoned the gas company to ask if they had lost their minds....very politely of course. after all, we had been freezing our tails off for weeks and the bill hadn't been higher than 60$. seems the bill was estimated (no one can tell me why) but when i received the adjusted bill it was still 100 dollars. (there are 4 of us in the house including a teen who doesnt understand that 30 minutes is NOT a quick shower). since then we've been a more aware of using the heating. during the day it's off and at night, when the temp dips into the 30's and 40's i find them (pets and all) in my room so one space heater makes sense and works well. several years ago i spent christmas with friends in belfast, northern ireland. they had a roaring fire in the fireplace and the doors to all of the rooms were shut tight. the living room was cozy and warm. i started looking around at our open floor plan recently and realized that, in part, that's why we spend so much on heating and cooling.. it's just not possible to close off unused rooms. this spring we'll be putting up doors and making the house more compartmentalized. hopefully that will help to keep the house cooler in the warm months and warmer in the cooler months.

Chile said...

Our bill shot way up, too. We've been talking about an electric blanket or mattress pad. Glad to hear it's a helpful option.

Heather @ SGF said...

blondeoverboard - Two words... Holy crap! Two hundred dollars? I would have passed out!

Chile - we should be getting our new bed soon and when we door we'll order the heated mattress pad. I let you know how we like it. It's expensive, but if it's as good as it sounds, it'll be worth it.

Chile said...

Well, actually, we decided to go with an electric blanket instead. Sorry!

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - Hope you like it. We really like ours (although I'm really looking forward to having the dual side heating) :)