Frugal Heating (misc) (long)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Most of us are going to get some shocking heating bills this winter unless things change in a hurry. The local paper has even run an ad from the local utility warning people that natural gas prices are going to be double last year and no relief in sight. The national and local TV news have been carrying similar stories. So, we need to button down.
First of all, turn down the thermostat and put on some clothes. We run our oil furnace at about 55-60F. The wood furnace runs the house up a little higher. We keep the bedrooms and unused rooms closed off. Draft stoppers under the doors can be as simple as an old bath towel or worn-out pair of jeans stuffed in the crack. Take advantage of solar heat gain and the light from the windows on the south side of the house, the east early and the west late. Especially on the upwind side of the house (usually the north or northwest) consider window blankets or plastic over the window. The interior shrink-on plastic "storm windows" underwhelmed me, especially for their price, but they might work for you. Windows on the north side of my house are mostly in unused rooms, so I care more about insulating them than I do about appearance or light.
Check the weatherstripping on exterior doors. Replace as needed. Make sure your windows are tightly closed. Use whatever door is getting less wind to go in and out of the house.
During another heating cost crisis, one of the local TV news stations did a bit on a single mother and her children. Mom was complaining that the welfare allotment for heating wasn't nearly enough to keep them warm. There she and the kids sat, barefoot, in T-shirts and light knit pants. DUH! Heavy socks, a t-shirt or turtle neck under a sweat shirt or sweater and heavy pants possibly with long johns or even panty hose underneath will go a long way in keeping you comfortable. If you're still cold, remember your head is losing heat at a tremendous rate. So drape a shawl over your head, or wear a hooded sweatshirt and put the hood up.
Do remember that some can't complain about being too cold (or too hot) so infants and some other people will have to be watched carefully. You may need to rearrange your house for the winter and set up a warm room for them.
And remember the expression "three dog night"! Gerbil
-- Gerbil (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2000
I live in a single-wide manufactured home made by a company which doesn't understand what energy efficiency is all about. Drafty and uninsulated as all get out. For example, the vent opening from the range exhaust goes directly to a weave vent on the outside, not even flatters. Basically a large hole from the inside to outside. I now have it stopped up and disabled the fan.
I have electric forced air. Wood stove is not an option. To take the chill off in the morning I use a kerosene heater with a blower attachment. Works nicely. However, I still don't complete trust it and will shut it off if I will be outside more than a couple of minutes. These also work nicely to heat just a single room. Mine sets up on a former TV table and is just the right height to stand in front of it and have the heated air hit my lower back.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), September 21, 2000.
Don't get me started about poorly built structures! It raises the blood pressure! They STILL build new houses that way and it makes me CRINGE..only 4" of insulation in the walls and not 6" or more! People want all the bells and whistles that break and are costly but not proper solar siting, super insulation, energy efficient heating, cooling nor appliances. It especially grinds me when they put garages on the southern side here in Michigan. I have tried to talk to builders about this but they actually turn and walk away. What's the problem? Not enough profit? We have insulated as much as possible without replacing costly windows as we hope not to retire here in the city. Our natural gas bill consistently averages $28 a month since we had the old furnace replaced with a new high-efficiency one. This includes all fees, taxes and a hot water heater. We never run the furnace at night but use a comfy sheepswool quilt. I LOVE big sweaters and warm sox (I've picked up over 20 pair FREE from free boxes at yard sales this season alone)...so cozy. I'm a winter person and these are my favorite months--now thru April. Great for cocooning and A LOT of reading! Can't wait for the new Countryside to arrive.
-- Sandy (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2000.
Oh, don't get me started about poorly built structures! It raises the blood pressure! They STILL build new houses that way and it makes me CRINGE..only 4" of insulation in the walls and not 6" or more! People want all the bells and whistles that break and are costly but not proper solar siting, super insulation, energy efficient heating, cooling nor appliances. It especially grinds me when they put garages on the southern side here in Michigan. I have tried to talk to builders about this but they actually turn and walk away. What's the problem? Not enough profit? We have insulated as much as possible without replacing costly windows as we hope not to retire here in the city. Our natural gas bill consistently averages $28 a month since we had the old furnace replaced with a new high-efficiency one. This includes all fees, taxes and a hot water heater. We never run the furnace at night but use a comfy sheepswool quilt. I LOVE big sweaters and warm sox (I've picked up over 20 pair FREE from free boxes at yard sales this season alone)...so cozy. I'm a winter person and these are my favorite months--now thru April. Great for cocooning and A LOT of reading! Can't wait for the new Countryside to arrive.
-- Sandy (email@example.com), September 21, 2000.
I have a draft house. I wonder at it because although it is 100+ years old it has been extensivelt renovated in the last 15 years..and yet the drafts are there! Oh well. What I do around our front door (which is unused in winter)is cram fabric into the gap around the door to stop the hurricane..I mean draft.:o) I use a butterknife to cram it in good and snug and deep. Its invisible from outside and noone notices inside (so what if they do?) and that draft is stopped! Did the same thing for a gappy window frame in an attic and it worked like a charm. Its no long term solution but does the trick in a pinch.
-- Alison Proteau (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2000.
Using kerosene lamps helps keep the chill off. I heartily agree with lowering the temp in the house and wearing more clothes You stay healthier doin that. I always tell folks that are coming to stay a few days to bring warm clothes...especially night clothes because we turn the heat down to 45 at night. Kinda thins out long stayin guests. I cook a lot of beans, soups, stews that give off steam during the day. Theres no better way to warm up after working outside in the cold than a cup of hot beans and a piece of cornbread. It usually tastes so good you hate to swallow. Blessings Peggy
-- Peggy (email@example.com), September 21, 2000.
Good information! Some of the posts made me giggle that we're all so 'alike', all of my 'guests' from Oct. on thru Apr., know to "...bring a sweater when you vist Kathy, unless her Mother will be over, for HER she will turn the heat up!" We like it cool! It's healthier. I rigged up a heat lamp for the bird, and the twins, who have the heated but really drafty basement, aka dungeon as their lar have to sleep upstairs on the coldest nights. When I was a housekeeper, I worked for a couple who kept the house so cold in the summer you needed a sweatshirt, and so warm in the winter a tee-shirt! They were sick-all the time! The husband was a Doctor! I tried to tell them, but hey, I was only the 'help'!
-- Kathy (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2000.
IMHO, the single most important heat saving device outside of weather stripping is a ceiling fan. Otherwise, all of your heat just keeps the bats in your belfry warm and does you no good. I never realized how much heat I wasn't getting for my money until I had to do something or the other to the smoke detector one winter day and almost passed out from the heat at the ceiling, even though my feet, on the chair, were quite cold and I hadn't been able to warm up all day. Well, duh....all of my heat was up there, while I was down there. Definately plan on upgrading our weather stripping and installing a ceiling fan just as soon as I get my bills tamed (too many too quickly these last few months). Luckily, I'm in NC, where winter weather is the least of my worries for a few more months.
-- Soni (email@example.com), September 21, 2000.
We are lucky though we live In a older home the former owners had p g and e come in and insulate. Thermal curtains and programable thermostats help to.
-- kathy h (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2000.
I agree with the ceiling fan. After reading all these threads I am feeling pretty lucky as my house is very well insulated. I do my best to always heat with firewood but when it gets down to -30below F, the wood stove needs a little help from the furance. (live in MN) I use the ceiling fan to suck the hot air off the vaulted ceilings. It works great. Had to laugh about the Oil Lamps. I thought I was the only one in the world that does that. Here is a little trick if you want to see the air movement in your house. It sounds crazy at first but if you take about a 4 foot piece of single ply toliet paper and hang it in the doorways and hallways, it will take the shape of the air movements. For example, In a stairways leading to the basement the bottom on the tissue will be heading downstairs and the top of the tissue will be heading upstairs. Should form a "S" curve Just thought I would pass that on. Hope you guys don't think I'm nuts but it works for me and I am always warm. Take Care
-- Bill (Sticky@2side.tape), September 21, 2000.
For my drafty 1800s house, I caulked around the sill plates, on both the inside & outside, I cut my heating bill by 1/3
-- Judy Genereux (email@example.com), September 22, 2000.
The most helpful single item that I can think of is my knit hat that I sleep in. I think we lose a lot of heat through our heads. If my head is warm and I am covered with my trusty army blanket; it will take a lot to wake me up.
-- Ed Copp (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 22, 2000.
Hold Hope, you world will not collapse because of lack of physical heat. I lived it, long ago, and far away. The World will end because you must suffer through some cold. Easy for me to say now, the bone cold I lived through, sought me trying to ink some measure of heat, out of my three year old sister. It was not most pleasurable of physical experience. But I have lived and survived. In a chicken house, with no insulation. Guess it depends on hope. Jeez it was alternate cold and hot then. I still exist. Good Luck to you.
-- Three Dog Night (email@example.com), September 22, 2000.
I understand that this isn't for everyone, but I let my dogs sleep with me, under the covers, and it is very warm. Daisy and Jasmine are Am Staff mix, with short, short hair, and hate being cold, so for me it's the perfect solution. I used to think it was gross that my sister allowed dogs in her bed, but really, they're as clean as you keep them. They are like little furnaces in the middle of winter here in NY.
-- Cathy Horn (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 23, 2000.
I'm not trying to sound flip, but it sounds like the one good thing about the energy prices going up is that we are all taking more care to waste less of our resources.
My son is having a house built in Florida. It's costing him about $200 thou to build, and guess what? The insulation on the ground floor is a layer of craft backed aluminum foil. The upstairs walls are insulated only with R11 fiberglass. The windows are single pane. I can't believe it. Sure, you might say, they don't have to worry about heat much down there, and you'd be right. But they will be running the air conditioner for eleven months per year, 24 hours a day, and air con requires a LOT of power.
I had no idea that there were states with such lax energy standards. Here in Oregon, we have to use at least R21 in the walls, R25 in the floors, R38 in the ceiling, and we have to have very efficient double paned windows and foam core doors everywhere but the front door. My heating bills are a joke, and my air conditioning bills amount to less than a dollar a year. All because of decent energy planning, including orientation of the house properly.
How about the rest of you folks. Do your states/cities/counties require adequate insulation in new construction? Do you think you should pressure the "powers that be" into requiring such, in order to preserve our energy supplies, fight air pollution, and simply to make our homes more comfortable?
-- jumpoffjoe (email@example.com), September 23, 2000.
Really enjoy these "Frugal Threads". My 50 y/o brick home has no insulation in the walls. And very little in the ceiling. And 21 single pane windows in this modest size home. I can't even think about what new windows would cost me.
The ceiling or attic is the single best place to invest in insulation. Thermal imaging shows that the bulk of the heat loss goes right out the roof. I used to know the % and I think it was some where around 50 - 60%.
I'm working on mine now (truth is, started LAST year). But remember to allow for air flow in the attic. If no air can move you will have a BIG moisture problem (wet, moldy, drywall falling off the ceiling kinda mess).
Since Queen Buffness had to have her female plumbing reduced, I'm probably the biggest offender of "I'll just bump the thermostat up a little". I better get to work and get some new long johns.
-- John in S IN (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 23, 2000.
We live in an older house and winters seemed to be so drafty. Our huge natural gas forced air furnace in the basement just didn't seem to keep the house warm. Last fall our local hardware store had a sale on last years models of ventless gas heaters. I got a large one for in the basement, a large one for in the living room, and a medium one for the upstairs. Do they ever make a difference! They are energy efficient since they are ventless. They have a "thermostat" on them so they cycle on and off. And best of all, our house is so warm in the winter with no drafts. I highly recommend these.
-- Michael W. Smith (email@example.com), September 24, 2000.
Jump Off Joe, increasing the building standards would increase fuel efficiency but would also force a lot of build-it-yourself homestead types out of the market. Lots of folks, especially in the South, cannot afford to start off that way with all the high priced building requirements. Eventually high fuel bills force most to upgrade their insulation.
-- Green (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 25, 2000.
We used to take turns with Trustee meetings from Church and have it at different homes each month. One December, they said it was our turn for January. I said "Oh no! You all can't take the cold like we can!! We did get some funny looks, but their houses are so HOT in the winter. It's just me and Steve, no small children, and our house is pretty cold away from the stove room. It has a blower but the house is so big, and it's old. But I love it so much here it's worth it. Our winters are short. But I do need an outside wood stove, looking now. I wear those insulated cover alls and a beanie. You know what's funny? We never get colds in the winter, everyone else at church is sick all winter with colds. It really makes you tougher. And when I come in from outside breaking ice, it's WARM in here. When I start to get chilly, I go outside for a couple minutes and come back in!!!
-- Cindy in Ky (email@example.com), September 25, 2000.
Cindy, part of the reason you guys don't get colds is that you don't have small children in the house! We didn't used to get sick a lot when we were home schooling, then we put the girls in the Christian school at our church and we all caught everything that came along. Once the girls were out of school and I stopped helping out at the school, we stopped getting sick again -- Juniper and I have hardly been sick in the last three years. Of course, we don't keep our house very warm in the winter either (can't) but that hasn't changed in the nine years we've lived here. The only thing that changed was the school situation.
Ed mentioned above that he wears a stocking cap to bed on cold nights, and that's something that we do, too. It helps a LOT!!!Also my cat likes to sleep either right at the top of my head, or in between my hubby and I (on top of the covers). Her body heat does help, though she's small. I wouldn't let a dog sleep with me, though, because I think it can confuse the pack dominance issues if there's any question in the dog's mind as to who is boss. Besides, I wouldn't want dog hair in my bed! The cat goes where she wants to anyway, mostly!!
And sometimes when we are out of oil (usually happens at least once in a winter) I will preheat the bathroom for our showers by drying a load of clothes. The bathroom is at the back of the house away from the woodstove, and doesn't get much heat from it, while the dryer (in the bathroom) throws off quite a bit of heat. I don't know how frugal that is but it sure beats being wet in a COLD room!! If the front door didn't open right into the living room, I've thought it would be nice to get a big galvanized tub and do baths there in front of the stove!
-- Kathleen Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 25, 2000.
When we started to plan our house the most important thing to us was that the house was sited to the south, I believe it was 15 degrees west of magnetic south. We have lots of big windows on the south side, in the winter we set the thermostat at 62 during the day. I enjoy looking at the thermometer and seeing that with the sun shining in it is 72 or more. That is here in WI! It doesnt get quite as warm when the temps are below freezing, but its unusual for the furnace to come on during the day unless its quite cold.
I did notice the mention about 4" insulation in walls. We only have 4" walls. They have R13 fiberglass with R7 celotex(foil panels) on the outside. We didnt use house wrap, instead we taped all the seems in the celotex. By the time you add it up with sheathing and drywall it ends up being about R21. We crammed every tiny hole with insulation(especially the corners -which many builders do not do). We could have used 6" walls, but the pay back is not even in my lifetime! Most of the loss is throught the ceiling/roof. The warm air raises up and out. Our ceiling is R60 fiberglass batts -2 R30 batts run perpendicular.
Unfortunately we had to comprimise on the heating system and have forced air LP with woodstove. If I had it to do over I would stick to my guns and use the infloor heat with an outdoor wood furnace and do some serious research on geothermal heat. We were just not confident that we had the ability to do the alternative heat sources ourselves so we use the less efficient conventional methods. As a side bar to that, I met a guy that did geothermal here in WI and convinced the power company to give him a rebate. Iowa gives rebates as well, according to him. We spend about $50 month in winter for water heater and heat a 3000 square foot house. Course we arent wearing shorts either, but you get used to it and its hard to go into warm houses. I feel like I am baking. It will be warmer with less fuel this year with the addition of the woodstove.
We also dress warm, I like my silk long johns(purchased at a Lands End outlet store) They arent bulky and keep me warm, couldnt live without wool socks either.
Tami in WI
-- Tami Bowser (email@example.com), September 26, 2000.
WEll, guess I'll let the cat outta tha bag. Lil Dumplin and I live in a new Amish built modular. Everything is on 16" centers with 2X6's on all the outside walls. A full 6" insulation on those walls and ceiling and 10" in floor. Not all manufactured houses are the same and price doesn't always have anything to do with it. We looked at a major brand and compared to this one, it was just junk. It had 4"walls with 2' centers and about $12,000 higher! It also had all kinds a "purties", made of plactic, that to us looked gaudy! We KNEW what we wanted and that's what we got. We're not dissappointed either. This one [Dutch] is so effecient and easy to heat that I don't even have an outside wood fired boiler--AND I SELL'M! We can run a full year on about 500 gallons of L.P. Thats heating, cooking and heating water! Oh yes, the price? About $42,000. House prices started at $90,000. -for the cheapies. Stay warm folks and be careful with your woodstoves. They are good heat but very dangerous if not taken care of properly. Ventless heaters need special attention to keep from mis-firing. EVERYGODY should have a fire/smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector in their house--that works! Matt. 24:44
-- hoot gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 26, 2000.
we live in n mich and it gets pretty cold here .we are being gouged by the gas and oil companies something awlful .so next winter if prices go sky high again we are just gona set fire to the home and move to arizona.i think thats what our goverment wants .to get rid of retired people so they can have more money to go to someplace nice and warm and buy nice homes and cars .what the heck we worked all our life now we are usless .so may as well try to get rid of us ...
-- robert donan (email@example.com), June 16, 2001.
mr. donan ..the goverment has every right to get rid of you .they do not have to support retired people .i thought you knew that.
-- frank covell (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 24, 2001.
Our house is almost 200 years old, log with siding. I was putting the plastic sheeting on the windows inside the first coupla years and then just did the putty caulking the last coupla years. I think I try both this year.
We have electric baseboard but do not use it. Terribly inefficient. We also have LP for a big old Empire heater that is centrally located on the first floor and the gas stove in the kitchen. We keep the house at about 45-50 degrees... unless company comes over and that is usualy just on Sunday nights. We all wear thermal underwear, sweaters, stockings (just the females actually). I pile bales of straw on the north side of the house in one spot where the pipes are close to outside and there is a place where there is a draft. We turn the heat off at night. Some mornings we can scratch ice off the insides of the windows. :) We can close off the bedrooms. There is no plumbing to worry about in the bedrooms. There is a doorway to the kitchen and one to a living room off the main room where the heater is, I hang curtains over these doorways to force more heat upstairs if need be. This year, I think I'll hang a curtain over the stairway opening too. The kitchen is heated by thinking up yummy things to bake. There are two ceiling fans: one where the heater is and one in the living room. They really help.
We would like to put a small vent free gas space heater in the living room but just haven't done it yet.
Since our house is old and was planned more for cold winters, there are no windows on the north side except for one small attic window.
Other than that......we close up the house for the day, leave the heat on just enough to keep the pipes from freezing, and then head for the public library.
-- LBD, Maryland (email@example.com), June 26, 2001.