Saturday, December 1, 2007

Battling the brrr

Wow, did we ever get close to doing something rather hasty. We were --this close-- to moving just because we have some ideas about simple living and thought that we HAD to live in a tiny tiny cabin to live simply--and mostly, because our gas heating bills were so high last year and we thought with our big, old, inefficient furnace, and our long, big (for us) drafty house, there was no hope. But we can do simple living here, and we have made lots of strides in this area, even if all the work has been majorly curtailed by me working most nights, we are still on track. It costs about $2000 to move and we dont have it. Plus it is really really really alot of work to re-set up a home life. With little children, it is so much more than just unpacking stuff when you can. It is major disruption of schedules and lots of negative fallout as a result that takes months if not longer to recover from. Sounds kinda like a nightmare right now.

So here is my new stance on the heat-bill thing: The Man cant chase me from my home. Can I honestly say we did EVERYTHING we could last year to keep the bills their lowest? No.

The new plans:

We will discontinue all use of our "3 season room" which connects our driveway to our home. You can park in the driveway but then you have to come to the front door. There is no overnight parking on our street, so oh well. Walk 100 feet and get over it. (These mean words being directed at myself not my visitors!)

We will lock and put down blankets/towels in front of the door that leads to this room and will not go in there unless extremely necessary. For those of you who remember me saying it was going to be our homeschool gym, well, we just cant afford any play toys at all although we got a slide a few months ago, we can put it in the kids' bedroom and be "fun-parents" until spring.

We will put on the storm windows AND the blow-dryer plastic treatment on EVERY window in the house. We will put down rolled up blankets in front of every door that leads to the outside. We will lay down rugs and wear shoes and socks or slippers from the time we wake up until bedtime.

We are going to start using space heaters, as well. These are not dangerous as people are lead to believe, they are small and cheap and efficient and they all have no-tip sensors inside so they instantly turn off when and if they get knocked over. We only use 2 bedrooms for sleeping, so we could theoretically turn the heat OFF at night, or way down. Daddy gets up early to go to work and, like the olden times only much much easier, he could be the one to turn on/up the heat.

We could theoretically use 4 or 5 little space heaters at different times and not use gas heat hardly at all. I already use cold to wash clothes and we don't have a dishwasher. So it would be heating our baths and showers only, and somewhat our home. We are on a "payment plan" with the electric company anyhow, we pay $104 a month so we could use the electric space heaters without too much worry.

I think back to what people used to have to do in the mornings in the way of chopping wood out in the snow, using outhouses, milking freezing cows and goats, lighting fires, and I think we are wimpy pathetic people nowadays. I have no interest in "freezing" all day, nor wearing hats in the house or anything so sad or extreme. But with the money saved from not living the way we did last winter, we could definitely afford six pairs of slippers or a fireplace guard (we only do fires at night because Charlie can walk right into our fireplace, it is right at floor level.)

Thank you, Mom for helping us out last year when we got our gas bill for $800. It won't happen again!


harmony said...

You may want to look into thermal window coverings. You can home make them or purchase them pre-made they are suppose to cut way down on the draft and cold seepage from the outside...and they can be made to look like cute roman shades...just an idea.

Trish said...

Okay, first I have to say that I LOVE that picture you have on this post!! I would love to frame that - too cute.

I think that harmony is right about the thermal drapes. I wonder if any thrift stores ever get any? I have a panel or two - I'll check around and see if I can find more. Plastic and the thermal drapes will make for a cozy room!

I don't blame you for not wanting to move. As much as I like a change, etc, packing and moving and unpacking is SO disruptive! Especially with children!

Anyway, I'm thinking that if you still want to use the "gym" room - for when it's just too bitter to go outside but the kids need to be active, maybe they could enter it from the outside? Maybe the thermal drape could go over the door that connects that room to the rest of the house?

Whatever, this is getting long :-)

Rixa said...

I am making thermal window coverings (well, I BOUGHT everything but haven't had time to actually SEW them together) from Warm Window for the worst windows in my house. That's a project for after Christmas...

You could always make quick & cheap versions by buying old quilts/comforters/wool blankets from thrift stores. You mount a 1x2 or 1x3 above the window and attach a piece of velcro to the wood. Then you sew the other side of velcro onto the quilt so it's easy to take up and down.

For extra fancy-ness, you could buy magnetic tape (the kind that has side A and side B that are magnetized to stick to each other) and stick one side on the blanket and the other on the wall or window trim, so it "seals" the blanket against the window and stops drafts. That's how Warm Window does it. Cool idea, huh?

Rixa said...

I second the use of space heaters. Our downstairs has radiator heat, but the upstairs has a forced air gas furnace. I hardly ever turn it on, though, because I have a few oil-filled electric radiators that I use only in our bedroom and bathroom, and the other rooms are unheated unless we have guests. Our bedroom is fairly cool during the winter (gets down to around 60 at night and 62-63 during the day) but it's really only for sleeping. On sunny days it warms up nicely, though!

I use microwave rice socks and blankets a lot during the day to keep me warm. I keep the downstairs around 65-66 degrees. Last winter it was more like 68-70, but I am trying to conserve energy more. There are some people who keep their house at 50 or 55 but I just can't do it. brrrrr....

If we ever more somewhere permanently (or at least 10 or so years) we will put a lot of money into renewable energy for the house: solar, geothermal, wind, etc, depending on where we live. I'd love to be off-grid, or at least closer to that! The first thing I'd do is install solar electrical panels that hook into the power grid (with a reversible meter) so on sunny days you can even earn some money back from the electrical company. Plus it eliminates the need for batteries to store the power.

Joy said...

Such cool ideas everyone, thank you for your help!

Now I need to get my sewing machine fixed...