Everyday Living, Money Saving Strategies, Reader Input

Staying warm on the cheap

My husband and I keep our thermostat set in the low 60s. Since it’s just us, we figure that we can wear layers of clothing around the house if necessary and if we have company, we’ll inch the thermostat up for their comfort, but we try to keep our heating costs down.

So what do we do when our main family room (which also happens to be our basement) seems a bit on the chilly side? I wouldn’t say it is the strangest thing in the world, but it’s pretty darn frugal – we’ve bought some decaf coffee and usually at some point in an evening, one of us will run up to the kitchen to brew a pot. It instantly warms us and lets us keep the thermostat down low.

What are your frugal tips for staying warm during the winter?

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8 thoughts on “Staying warm on the cheap

  1. Insulation over as many windows as possible, small electric blanket over the lap and shoulders when sitting, plenty of clothes, hot tea in a big thermos, keep the indoors humidified, open the curtains of south-facing windows on sunny days to let the sun heat the room, daily exercise to keep up the circulation!

  2. Make sure you have good air flow in your family room, and since it’s in your basement you may want to consider investing in a ceiling fan so you can push the rising warm air down to improve circulation. If you can’t install a ceiling fan a box fan on low may help some. Joan already mentioned humidification, dry air will make you feel colder and moisture in the air will help hold heat.

  3. I agree…a humidifier helps. We put plastic over as many windows as we can. It helps a bunch and I buy it when there’s a rebate offered at Menards. We have kids so our thermostat is at 70. I haven’t seen outrageous bills.

  4. LOL! I always drink far too much coffee in the winter as a result of trying to warm up. Cozy socks, a warm blanket and a cup of tea works great too.

  5. We have baseboard heating in the basement family room, but it dries us out too much – solution???? A fish tank, with a heater…. In our family room we have two doors so the room stays closed, the heated fish tank “warms” the room enough and we don’t have to turn on the baseboard heating. Our room size is 14 x 20 and we are very comfortable, and so are the fish! We never unplug the tank, obviously.

  6. We have a 2-level home (split entry – one set of stairs goes upstairs from a landing by the front door, another set of stairs goes downstairs). We have forced air furnace heated by natural gas (we live in the Western US). The downstairs, of course, gets colder than the upstairs. We’ve learned, though, to get along with a 68 degree Fahrenheit setting most of the winter. (Like I was weaned off of whole milk to 2%, then later to 1% – the others taste too rich for me now).

    A friend of mine some years ago used an insulating additive mixed with paint on perimeter walls (those next to outdoors) and the ceiling (if the roof is right above that). I felt a wall he had painted with the insulating additive, which was right next to a wall that had not yet been painted with the same insulating additive. The difference in temperature was incredibly big!

    I recommended this tip (just above) to a friend with a large (3-story home) who has been out of a full-time job for a year now (as of today, 2009.12.31). His natural gas bill is around $400 per month in the winter! His brother-in-law works at a coal mine in East Central Utah. The mine owners allow their employees to so much free coal to heat their homes. His brother-in-law is sharing some with my friends (who drove 150 or more miles each way to bring back a pick-up load of coal). They’ll probably need one more load to help them get through the winter. Coal, of course, can burn hotter & longer than the wood they’ve used in their stove.

    Closing bedroom doors, especially at night, seems to keep the bedrooms somewhat warmer, especially downstairs for our girls downstairs.

  7. Main tip is to spend a little money every year on energy efficiency improvements.

    Oh yeah, and I love fleece, down vests and lap blankets.

  8. Just wearing socks is a great trick to make your body “think” it’s warmer. A lot of body heat is lost to bare feet, particular in the winter.

    Also, a programmable thermostat can help save heating costs. We set ours lower during the day when we aren’t home, and at night while we’re sleeping. An hour or so before we wake up the heat kicks in, and just before we get home from work.

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