Thursday, December 15, 2011

Being Frugal During Winter Heating Season

Winter officially arrives on December 21st, but when you live in Wisconsin the word furnace starts popping up in sentences by late October or early November. At our home, a frugal home, we keep the thermostat set at 62 degrees. Yes, that is 62, not 72. This was the temperature we used when both our children were infants. When our son was born in 2008 I heard several people say, "oh, now that you have a baby you'll have to raise the set temperature." Being an anxious new mother, I asked our pediatrician. Her response -- "babies live all over the world in all sorts of temperatures and are fine. Your son will be fine with the temperature your family sets.: And he was -- just like his father, he is warm all of the time....especially at night. Our daughter who joined us in 2010 is just the same. So we are living proof that families with young children can survive a Wisconsin winter without running the furnace non-stop. Here are a few tips for enjoying a home when the furnace is set at 62 degrees:
  • dress as though it were winter -- oh wait, it is! T-shirts are covered with sweet shirts or sweaters. Socks and slippers are worn (by me -- the kids opt to go barefoot on our hardwood floors) while inside;
  • pull out the throws. You'll find a few festive blankets in the living room. When we curl up to read stories, a blanket helps keep us warm;
  • let the sun shine in -- open your drapes or blinds and let Mother Nature give you some solar warmth during the day;
  • enjoy winter beverages (coffee, tea, hot cocoa, Bailey's Irish Cream.....);
  • close vents in rooms or areas you do not use regularly. We have the vents closed in our finished basement because we are not down there enough to justify the cost; and
  • use space heaters. We have three; one in each bathroom and a third in my home office. The cost of each heater was approximately $17. There is no need for the bathrooms to be a toasty 70 degrees all the time. When needed, it is turned on to make showers more comfortable. As for my office, it is our finished basement. I use it two afternoons a week. There is no reason to open up the vents in the basement for this limited amount of time. I have a nice space heater at my feet. The savings from not heating the basement is huge!
We are frugal, but not crazy. When we have company we will turn the heat up because not everyone is comfortable at 62 degrees. How about you -- what temperature do you use to get through the winter?


  1. We also keep our house set at 62, and most people (including my husband) think we are crazy. We keep the bedroom at 55.

  2. I like the idea of using the space heaters in the bathroom. After Superstorm Sandy, we were without power for 10 days, and the temperatures were below normal. We survived very well with the fireplace for cooking and some warmth as well as the grill and camping equipment, but getting washed was a miserable experience. I heated our hot water on the grill, put it into a 5 gallon bucket, and we would wash in the bathroom, but it was unbelievably cold during and while drying. Obviously a space heater wouldn't work if the power's out, but my fear of turning into a popsicle if we lower the heat would certainly be allayed by this idea!

    1. Given that bathrooms are usually smaller rooms, a space heater can warm things up in no time. I love the approach, and am delighted to keep our heating costs low. But I agree, bathing and frigid temps are not ideal. Give it a try this winter and let me know if it works out for you! Thanks for reading, and commenting.