• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Steve Thorn
  • r ranson
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
  • Carla Burke
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • Mike Barkley
  • Liv Smith

31 ways to save on winter heating for $30 or less

 
gardener
Posts: 967
Location: Ohio, USA
195
dog forest garden fish fungi trees urban food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
31 ways to reduce heating costs in winter and for less than $30. If properly used, their payback is less than 1 year.

Quilted window coverings. Most windows, including double pane have an r-value of 4 or less, whereas  a modern insulated wall has an r-value of 15 or more. Quilted covers, or the like, can be made from emergency blankets, moving blankets, or fancier material, and will easily  double the insulation on your windows.

Make use of solar heat. During sunny cold days, you can still get the equivalent of a wood burning stove going full blast from the sun beaming in large South-facing windows (in the northern hemisphere). If you don't have large South facing windows, you can still get some benefit from East and West facing windows, if the curtains are open when the sun comes in and closed when it is not. Opening and closing windows treatments is free heating. Although still new technology, you may be able to find automated window treatments connecting to your smart home system.

Close off large North facing windows (in the northern hemisphere). Windows to the north mean an r-4 wall in your coldest wind direction. If you have large windows in this direction see if you can block them off with extra thick window quilts, window shutters, furniture, or if the have a bad view, turn them into a highly insulated wall and hang a picture. You can make working window shutters for a 3'x5’ window for about 20 dollars and thick window treatments for less than 10.

Use a heated blanket or mat instead of a space heater. A space heater is about 7x more energy consumptive than an electric blanket, and much more drying. Therefore, on average a heated blanket running 10 hours a day for a month will cost 9 dollars to run, but a space heater running the same amount of time would cost $45. Electric blankets can be found for as little as $20, new.

Comfortable warm clothes. A yummy soft robe and slippers out a cardigan and tall socks might not seem like a reasonable purchase until you realize you can drop the temperature of your thermostat a degree or two, lowering your heating bill 1-3% for every degree.

Properly place furniture. Outside walls, especially next to windows, are the coldest places in a room. They are great for book shelves, media centers, and other things people don't tend to hang around. Place the furniture people hang out on in the center of the house, especially next to heating vents, where it is warmer. Put the heated fish tank by the couch, where they will compliment each other's heat needs and provide entertainment. These rearrangements can cut make your home more comfortable, lower your thermostat, and reduce your need for secondary secondary heaters.

Cook food instead of take out or delivery. An oven can produce 10,000 BTUs of heat per hour, and a cheaper dinner than eating out. 10,000 BTUs is about ⅙ the output need to heat a standard insulated 2,000 sqft home.

Section off heated spaces. Close the vents in the guest room or other rarely used spaces. Keep the doors shut. Use a piece of elastic to spring the door shut if people are prone to forgetting to do so. When asleep, lower the house temperature and use smaller heating apparatuses to heat yourself and/or the room. A piece of elastic and the nails from door to door frame costs about $3.

Install a programmable thermostat. A simple programmable thermostat costs about $20 and can dramatically lower your heat bill by only heating to comfortable when you need it to.

Set your thermostat to only vary about 10 degrees. Over a ten degree variation takes more energy than it saves.
Insure tight gaskets around your doors and windows. Gaskets are less than $10 and stop or slow the breeze around doors. Heat loss around poorly gasketed doors has-been estimated to 20%.

Have a family sleepover. Most little kids don't want to sleep alone anyway and many cultures have a family bed and shared rooms. On especially cold nights, have a sleepover for your family in one room. This can include the dogs and cats. You can drastically reduce your overnight heating costs by only heating one room with many people.

Use lanolin and other high temperature body oils as moisturizers. High temperature oils become solid below room temperature, which makes them insulate. They become liquid above room temperature, cooling your skin. Using these to keep your skin moist in the dry, chapping winter air can make you just that much more comfortable and costs the same as conventional skin moisturizers.

Exercise at home. Heating yourself and reducing your need for additional heat.

Have friends over. With more people there's more body heat and more activity, meaning an easier time for your heating system.

Visit local hang outs so you can lower your thermostat ten degree while you're gone.

Block an unused fireplace. Even a fireplace with a damper can suck hot air out of your house. Closing it off with the same vigorousness you would other walls and ceilings helps reduce heat loss. Remember to clear the block if you want to start a fire.

Eat healthy, take care of yourself. Getting sick often means you need to turn up the heat. Reduce unnecessary exposure to illness and take care of your body. This is usually the cheaper option for medical expenses too.

Place a windbreak on the winter wind side of your house made of cheap fast growing trees. It will take them a while to grow, but in 5 years you will notice a difference. Fast growing bare root trees can be purchased for as little as $1 a piece. Insure they are far enough away from things that can be destroyed by roots.

Fill insulation gaps. Although many gaps are in hard to reach places and can be pricey, sometimes the gaps are easy to find and fix, like between the first floor and the walls of an unfinished basement, or around plugs on outer walls and window caulking. The materials vary, depending on the hole your pluging but usually way under $30. Plugging these holes can be more important than thickening wall insulation.

Adjust your furnace intake location with a bench. Sometimes the intake for the forced air unit is located by a window, pulling in cold air from outside rather than cycling the warm air from inside. A bench is sometimes all that is needed to direct the air intake towards the room, instead of the window, behind a curtain. A bench can be made out of a 2”x6” piece of wood cut in three pieces and attached with 6 long screws, and a 1”x2” for stability. Doing this project yourself can cost about $20.

Insulate ducting from an unfinished, rarely used basement. A roll of insulation can cost about $15.

Use thermal masses in areas with sunny days and frigid nights. A thermal mass is something heavy that absorbs a lot of heat before it changes temperature and releases a lot of heat before it changes temperature. Basically, a heat battery. They are usually rock, clay, cobb or cement. But can also be a house plant. Be sure your floor is capable of holding the weight of the thermal mass, as some are quite heavy. Set the thermal mass where it will get the most sun and then let it do its job.

Cover or pull in your window unit air conditioner. Air conditioners leak air. Covering them or pulling them in reduces that.

Protect air vents from wind. Some crawl spaces have air vents. These keep the space from building up moisture, but can also cause cold air to penetrate under a house and seep in, especially when exposed to wind. At ground level these can be blocked from wind with a stack of firewood, a big rock, or some evergreen bushes.

Avoid using the bathroom vent fan except when taking a long shower. Bathroom vents suck hot air right out of the house, exactly what you don't need in winter. For stinky situations, try a scented candle in a fire safe location.

Use heated lighting for your sitting areas during winter. They cost as much to run as a heated blanket, but give the feel of a nice summer's day. The bulb costs about $8, can fit some regular lamps or a $10 heat lamp fixture.

Take winter walks. Human bodies can adapt a little, so experiencing winter can help you be comfortable with less heat.

Make a thermos full of warm drink. With a short spurt of heating you have a hand warmer and body warmer. This is great for needing to warm up after the walk. Rather than hiking up the thermostat to defrost you, drink up.

Move to a smaller house or take on some roommates. Along with saving money on property costs and maintenance, smaller spaces are cheaper to heat.

Strategically place blankets. A warm blanket or two on a couch, several more on your need, one in the recliner can help keep you cozy without raising the thermostat.

When you save on heating you save on money. Even if you can only do one change listed here the first year, you'll be able to do two the next year and four the following because these projects, if done with thought for your situation, can pay for themselves in very little time, leading you to bigger projects with higher pay offs sooner than you thought. Spread the word.
 
Amit Enventres
gardener
Posts: 967
Location: Ohio, USA
195
dog forest garden fish fungi trees urban food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fixed it up based on comments and made it a wiki, since it's a reference not a question. Hope I did that right. Feel free to correct.
 
Posts: 167
45
homeschooling forest garden urban cooking medical herbs writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are great money-savers.  I would just caution those who are pregnant or hoping to be so against using electric blankets.  There's an increase (albeit, small) of miscarriage and infertility linked to sleeping with an electric blanket.

Rather than post something here that is applicable to a small number, just type it into a search engine.
 
steward
Posts: 17957
Location: Pacific Northwest
8408
7
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I keep seeing news articles like this:

Energy crunch hits global recovery as winter approaches

Associated Press wrote:Power shortages are turning out streetlights and shutting down factories in China. The poor in Brazil are choosing between paying for food or electricity. German corn and wheat farmers can’t find fertilizer, made using natural gas. And fears are rising that Europe will have to ration electricity if it’s a cold winter.

The world is gripped by an energy crunch — a fierce squeeze on some of the key markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels that keep the global economy running and the lights and heat on in homes. Heading into winter, that has meant higher utility bills, more expensive products and growing concern about how energy-consuming Europe and China will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.



I hope by bumping this thread, more people will be able to stay warm and cozy this winter.

(for those facing summer and hot weather, you might find these threads more useful right now 20 ways to REALLY reduce your summer utility bills and Cool the Person, not the Space and Natural Air Conditioning)
 
pollinator
Posts: 2571
Location: Bendigo , Australia
168
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great ideas, big read
 
Posts: 14
3
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some great ideas. We have a porch with sliding doors on the north side of our place, I'll be measuring it and hitting the thrift stores for an appropriate quilt cover. Can double as an attractive wall piece! We do some of the others already - our bike trainer is in the living room, a 15 minute ride can translate to 1-2 hours of not needing heat. And we keep our spare duvet by the couch in the winter, it's very nice for cuddling up under in the evening.
 
pollinator
Posts: 191
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
114
hugelkultur forest garden building rocket stoves woodworking greening the desert
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great ideas that I can use!
Here's one more for the list: when you're using the oven, put a few bricks on a lower shelf. They hold the oven's heat so baking is more steady when opening the door in a cold kitchen. When it's time for bed, wrap a still-hot-brick in a towel and slip it into the bed near the feet: instant warmth and comfort!
 
pollinator
Posts: 816
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
295
kids dog home care duck rabbit urban books building writing ungarbage
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As someone who lived without a furnace or wood stove for over ten years, I learned a few tricks... Many are NOT under $30, but most will easily pay for themselves within a year or two.

Electric Add-Ons:

Plug in throws for "living rooms" or office situations are fabulous, if the blanket alone finds you still chilly, 'turn up the heat' by clicking the throws power button.

Plug in mattress pads or electric blankets allow you to cut the heat to the bedroom entirely, or at least significantly. These have been used for decades and are not only a HUGE energy saver (heat the bed, not the room), but incredibly luxurious! Most have timers, even dual ones.

TIP: always go one to two "sizes" larger, this ensures there is no "gap" when turning over in bed where icy air rushes in. Same for regular top sheets, blankets and quilts; using 'king size' on a double or queen makes for a MUCH more cozy bed for not much extra up front cost (of course the fitted sheet must be correctly sized).  I hit the thrift stores for cotton top sheets/fitted sheets in lighter colors and batch dye them, along with pillow cases, so they all, at least somewhat, match

Plug in OIL FILLED RADIATORS are my go to for small rooms like the bathroom that NEED extra heat for comfort and safety of the plumbing. Super efficient, plus they double as a towel/clothing warmer!

These space heaters are my choice due to their high safety factor - with multiple animals, the heat source must not be a potential fire or burn injury hazard. Further, they have no "moving parts", and commonly are programmable. Mine have timers that turn them on/off at preset times, along with thermostats, three "power" levels " (500, 1000, 1500 watts) and an anti freeze feature that automatically turns them on if the temps drop dangerously (pipe freezing) low.

Plug in Dog bed warmers: the ones I use are from K&H Manufacturing (vinyl pads from 6x6 inches to 15x20+ inches - supposed to go into upholstered pet beds). They can be pricey, but I wait until they are on sale. The smallest use just 4 watts, but all are under 25 watts and warm to 102 F.  

I have three large ones on the futon Sofa, covered with a polar fleece fitted sheet (folds down into a queen size bed). Technically this was for the dogs, but we now each have one for each of our recliners, constant, soft, steady heat.

Invest in a Digital Laser Thermometer - we used one to discover our new insulation was incorrectly installed. Once the installer returned and we showed all the cold spots they redid the job ($500 to add a foot extra of blown in cellulose) for free. Just as easily it allows you to find and properly insulate the "locations" heat is escaping.

Ceiling Fans/Room Circulator: seems counter intuitive, but correctly placed units move/mix cooler temps near the floor with the warmer, rising air. Particularly useful in multi-storey (lofts) dwellings or ones with a single (wood stove?) heat source. Pricey, but I highly recommend the Vornado line of air circulator; practically silent and do double duty in summer for cooling - plus the VFAN Vintage line is absolutely gorgeous!

Close doors (and vents) to rooms seldom or only briefly used, and rooms only used for "certain" time periods (bedrooms/office) and only heat when needed.

Programmable thermostat: for less than $50, this can make a HUGE difference. Especially as you can slowly, degree by degree lower the temperature (preferably WELL below the 70+F (22+C) most folks deem acceptable) to the lower 60's (mid teens Celsius).

When and wherever possible, spend $$$ on upping the attic insulation; this is generally your fastest return on investment.

Check door and window seals for air leaks (a candle flame or smoke source will clearly show these), and don't forget gaskets for outlet and switches - if the walls are not well insulated, a lot of heat and or drafts can be found here.

Extra insulation for the ELECTRIC hot water heater can save serious $$$; as can regularly flushing debris/build up from the bottom valve. This can build up on the heating element and burn it out, or at the very least seriously limit it's efficiency.

Double paned windows, filled with Argon gas will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer. BUT return on investment tends to be much longer.

In cold climates the addition of an "Arctic Entry"; essentially (insulated but not heated) a vestibule which provides an "airlock" due to the second door between the bitter outside air and the heated inside air. Enclosing a porch, even seasonally, can do the job. Basically all you need is one door to the outside, a tiny room, with a second door to the inside.  

Thermos, or insulated cup/mug/tumbler: great way to keep a warm drink warm for MUCH longer when your room may be chilly.

Hope this helps!
 
pollinator
Posts: 2130
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
654
hugelkultur dog forest garden urban cooking bike
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here, as well as in earlier threads, a 'dog bed warmer' is mentioned. I went searching for such a thing (to put it under my cold feet). But I found out 'dog bed warmers' are not for sale here! At least not in the pet shops here in town.
Of course I don't want to order it online, with shipping costs more than the price of the thing
 
master steward
Posts: 6424
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1901
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Here, as well as in earlier threads, a 'dog bed warmer' is mentioned. I went searching for such a thing (to put it under my cold feet). But I found out 'dog bed warmers' are not for sale here! At least not in the pet shops here in town.
Of course I don't want to order it online, with shipping costs more than the price of the thing



I keep reading here on permies about a dog bed warmer.

Seems to me a heating pad like people use for sore muscles would be just a good and a lot cheaper.

Inge, do they see heating pads where you live?

I looked at an amazon link and the dog bed warmer sounds like the heating pad used for sore muscles.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 2130
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
654
hugelkultur dog forest garden urban cooking bike
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Here, as well as in earlier threads, a 'dog bed warmer' is mentioned. I went searching for such a thing (to put it under my cold feet). But I found out 'dog bed warmers' are not for sale here! At least not in the pet shops here in town.
Of course I don't want to order it online, with shipping costs more than the price of the thing



I keep reading here on permies about a dog bed warmer.

Seems to me a heating pad like people use for sore muscles would be just a good and a lot cheaper.

Inge, do they see heating pads where you live?

I looked at an amazon link and the dog bed warmer sounds like the heating pad used for sore muscles.


Hi Anne. I don't know. I'll have to find out how they call that 'heating pad' in Dutch. For sore muscles I only know an infra red lamp or a pad you'll have to warm in warm water (so that is not electric).
EDIT: I found it. It's called 'warmtekussen' (warmth cushion) and it's sold in town
 
Posts: 7
2
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great ideas. As Nicole can certainly attest to in the NW, they are very militant against any type of burning (there are numerous laws on file about natural heat) so rocket mass heaters might be a challenge. Question, how do you 'block' a fireplace? Is that just doing the curtain/blanket thing in front or something in the chimney? Thanks!
 
Amy Gardener
pollinator
Posts: 191
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
114
hugelkultur forest garden building rocket stoves woodworking greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rick has a great question about blocking the fireplace. I would love to see some pictures showing different strategies. Form + function =  an art project! The approach here with the kiva-style fireplace (like a sideways D shape) is to put a 4 inch thick upholstered cushion inside the threshold to the opening. The cushion is 1" larger all the way around so the cushion is held in place with the compressive pressure of the foam. It works well though I want to upgrade the look with new upholstery fabric. Show us your covers Permies!
 
Lorinne Anderson
pollinator
Posts: 816
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
295
kids dog home care duck rabbit urban books building writing ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The dog heating pads/bed warmers are specially designed to be low energy (4-20+ watts), and maintain a steady, 102F temp, 24/7.  

Human heating pads nowadays have auto shut offs and a tendency to fluctuate significantly in temp from barely warm to potential burn temps. Usually they come in a single, standard sizes, with three temp settings.

The ones for dogs can be pricey and are designed to be slipped inside an upholstered dog bed. To my mind they are safer as they are expected to be plugged in, and turned on, for months if not years at a time.

K&H Manufacturing is the brand I use and in 20 yrs, have never had a problem (dog eating cord/pad doesn't count!). I get mine off Amazon (check for sales and returns in the Warehouse store).
 
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Southern Utah
31
chicken building homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Insulating window film works great.  It isn't insulation but a clear plastic you put over the entire window that will hold the cold air to the window and keep drafts and cold air from cooling off the room.  They also have larger kits for sliding glass doors.
These work great and still allow light and will allow you to look out the window.  My parents used these about 40 years ago when I was a kid, they made a huge difference in keeping the bedrooms warm in the winter.
https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/p/d/cbgnaw011297/

A few years ago when I was still living in my travel trailer I put clear plastic on the outside of the windows with clear bubble wrap between the plastic and the window, the bubble wrap was a big improvement over the plastic alone.
 
master gardener
Posts: 3619
Location: southern Illinois.
1049
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation pig bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Michael,

Normally, I try to avoid plastic. But I grew up in a house that was one notch above a shack. When I did my homework, the wind would blow the papers off the table. The use of plastic on the windows was a blessing.
 
Posts: 90
14
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I, too, am trying to reduce my plastic usage as much as possible but I'm not above re-using plastic that others have already produced. Reuse doesn't count as causing (paying for) the production of the bad stuff. Anyway, I've found that most mattresses come to the mattress store wrapped a pretty heavy, usually clear, (or at least translucent), plastic bag. Most stores are happy to give them away (less trash for them) and they cover small greenhouses, windows, etc. quite well. They don't last forever since they're not UV resistant but, hey, they're free and going to the dump anyway. Any secondary use is an improvement on just junking them immediately.

This is a great thread. I've used most of these strategies in the past but will definitely be looking for a dog bed warmer. I have a rabbit's nest box warmer which is the same concept - extremely safe and low power usage - but it's quite small. And I expect to be living off grid in a very theivery-prone area when I finally get to my property so I don't expect I'll be able to use solar panels until the long-active neighborhood thieves are caught and/or removed. My grandson just finished cavalry scout training and he thinks he can catch them. I sure hope so. They even steal any and all hidden cameras within a day or two. Anyone want to start a thread about unconventional security on the homestead?
 
Their achilles heel is the noogie! Give them noogies tiny ad!
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic