1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How to Triumph Over the Gas Company

After the painful blow of the tax bill, I needed some good financial news. Yesterday the gas bill came. I tore into the envelope with the kind of excitement usually reserved for birthday cards potentially containing cash. The bill could have been more bad news - that in spite of all our shivering under piles of blankets and layers of clothing, we still had to pay some crazy-high number.

But hurray! The bill was only $118! That's a savings of $230 over this month last year. It's proof that our frigid living is paying off!

In honor of our success, I'll share my favorite tips for staying warm in a cold, old house and I hope you'll share yours, too.

  • Wear warm, fuzzy slippers at ALL times ... with socks if you can stand it.
  • Buy electric space heaters with thermostats (though we haven't found timers necessary). Our cheapie heaters work better than the expensive one!
  • Leave the oven door open after you turn it off and stand in front of it, toasting yourself in the leftover heat.
  • Get some cats, preferably one for each human. Encourage the cats to nap on your lap while you watch TV.
  • Get a space heater for the bathroom and turn it on a few minutes before your shower. Shut the doors, and the room (and those wretched cold tiles) will heat up in no time.
  • Invest in good flannel sheets. They're not as cold as regular sheets when you first get in the bed, and they warm up faster.

    And my favorite:
  • Work vigorously on the house, so you're too busy (and sweaty and dirty) to get cold!

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    John said...

    Excellent tips. We have a not so old but half-ass built ranch house without central heat. We do everything you've mentioned here and it works.

    I would add baking bread or cakes is an excellent idea too. Most breads I bake cook at 400+ degrees so that really warms the house up.

    We also have an electric blanket on our bed with two thermostats (a his & hers set up if you like). On a 1-10 scale (ten being the hotest), I'm a 3-4 while my wife is a 6-9.

    Another tip some old timers gave us, is put your clothes for the next day in bed with you the night before (under the pillows or sheets) so they'll be warm in the morning. Not really my style (I don't like extras in the bed), but it works.

    3:07 PM  
    Sabrina said...

    So, Kristin, has your ELECTRIC bill gone up now, with all the space heaters? :)

    John, the clothes in bed thing made me laugh....I hate extras in the bed too but I was also thinking about how wrinkled the clothes would be by morning. :)

    3:12 PM  
    Kristin said...

    Everyone keeps saying we'll have a high electric bill, but we do budget billing, so I haven't noticed. It's gotta be less than what we used trying to air condition the place this summer!

    4:06 PM  
    halloweenlover said...

    Congrats on the lower bill! I'm taking you up on some of the suggestions!

    7:15 PM  
    Patricia W said...

    Great news Kristin!

    After my horrifying bill last month I turned down the thermostat and saved about $145. That is a big deal. It does take getting used to (especially after moving here from Texas) but it is do-able. Also, for those who hate to get into a cold bed, get an electric blanket and turn it on before turning in. It's very cozy.

    7:20 PM  
    Faster Pussycat said...

    PSA: Just watch you don't point the heater at the toilet - I read somewhere about a family who kept smelling sewage and replacing wax rings, but couldn't figure out why - turns out they kept melting the wax ring with the heater near the loo.

    9:56 AM  
    derek said...

    How about a setback thermostat? Our basically turns the furnace off at night, then turns it back on in the morning. We noticed the difference when we had the oil furnace and installed it. I think it saved 15-20%. You probably turn yours down manually, I just would forget all the time. We got a cheap one from Home Depot, they tried to sell us a new one with the new furnace, the cheap one seems to work fine though.

    2:37 PM  
    Kristin said...

    Good tip about the toilet! :)

    3:44 PM  
    C&C said...

    Another tip we put into use this weekend:
    Hang blankets over the rooms you don't use so the cold stays in them, and hang more blankets over the rooms you do use and pull your heater in with you. It gets very toasty! Then tell the gas company "Eat my Shorts!" ;) Warm wishes!

    1:40 PM  
    Amy Stewart said...

    We also live in a 1902 Victorian. We bought a Thelin pellet stove (very cool-looking for an old house) and we're keeping one room--my office--toasty warm with that. So that's also where we hang out most of the time since that's where it's warm. We also crawled under the house and wrapped the dutctwork in foil insulation, and we closed off all the heating vents except the kitchen, so when we are downstairs, we heat only that room. Works pretty well--our gas & electric was just under $150, which is a minor miracle compared to last year.

    8:59 PM  

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