Keeping Warm This Winter (II)

February 8, 2014     bird_winter_snow_213718

Last week, I told you about some things I’d done to bring my heating bill down this winter (and avoid a heart attack from opening future heating bills). Several readers noted things they had tried in the comments section and over at my face book page, several more readers left ideas there.

So today I’m going to tell you what I’ve done over the week and how it’s working, as well as posting the ideas left on the face book page at the end of this blog post.

I have continued to layer up each day – long underwear, top and bottom, sweat shirt, sweat pants and sweat jacket and, at the suggestion of one of my readers, my knit cap. I hung blankets over the front and back doors and a curtain across the living room doorway which leads to the rest of the house. This allowed me to close off the only two furnace vents that actually close, which seems to have forced the warmer air into the living room, (where I spend about 75% of my time,) keeping it warmer without raising the temperature.

Yes, I have taken on the appearance of a bag lady (thankfully, one with regular access to bath and laundry facilities) and my living room looks like the inside of a large (15 by 24 foot) Bedouin’s tent or Gypsy wagon, but I can sit at my computer quite comfortably, sipping hot tea or soup with the thermostat set at 60 degrees during the day and 65 in the evening.

Part of this, of course, is to lower my heating bill since – as I explained last week – the shock of opening this winter’s heating bills as I did last month could be hazardous to one’s health at my age.

There is, of course, another reason. We live in a declining empire on the verge of several nasty calamities that will feed into each other in ways that most of us in the U.S. will not be prepared for – especially those, like me, who are at the bottom of the economic pile. Most of the women in the last two or three generations of my family lived into their late eighties to mid nineties. Even at seventy-three, I may be around for a while.

It’s important to me, as I assume it will be for others of you who might find yourself in the same situations, to keep reducing my dependence on fossil fuels and the economic status quo before circumstances force me to do so in the coming “next leg down” of this slow collapse the Empire has entered.

It’s also the reason I wrote my series on “Doom and the Working Poor” (and, I might add, the retired poor), why I put up the buttons at the top of the blog linking to ideas to decrease dependency and increase community and why I’ll continue to add ideas as I find and try them out.

Whatever the next few years hold for us, (and there is increasing alarm in the scientific community regarding climate change, that we may have already crossed a human extinction tipping point,) we will not survive those years by pointing weapons at one another. We might survive these years (though the cheap oil dependent civilization we’ve built won’t) by working together to make sure as many as possible find ways to survive, until we can thrive in new ways.

So, with that thought in mind, here are the suggestions from my face book friends. I’ll gather them and the suggestions from commenters here on the blog and add them to the heating and cooling section at the top of the blog, too:

Kathi I – I have used a lighter to detect drafts around door and window frames and then caulked them up. An easy fix that doesn’t break the bank.
Wendy B – I put cup hooks on my door ways and hung blankets on them before the furnace was running and the woodstove was not keeping up with the temps – even here the crazy cold was exceptional….. I make door snakes with material and fill with sand….. they are nice and heavy and block drafts… mostly used for the inside to rooms i wasn’t heating (spare bedroom/studio)….. and yes to the wheat bags/rice bags.
Wendy B – Ooo just thought of something else…. if you run a dryer (not sure you do) but IF you did…. disconnect the outlet pipe to outside….. put a stocking over it to catch the lint and let the warm humid air INTO the house….. the stocking acts as a filter and just change it out once a week.(depends where one’s dryer is but mine is in the middle of the house so it is really effective.
Kathy H – You want to heat as small a space as possible. After dressing appropriately, consider a space heater. I use one when working at my computer for long stretches as it’s cheaper to heat the small space under the deck than the whole big room. I can heat up the bathroom just for my shower with it.
Lisa B – The first line of defense is always dressing appropriately. I heat with wood, and often when it’s -30 here, the woodstove has a hard time keeping up. It’s not unusual for me to wear flannel-lined jeans, thermal undershirt, turtleneck, and a heavy jacket-style sweater, plus hat, scarf and fingerless gloves, inside the house.
Wendy B – My bathroom in Australia was outside on the back veranda – and 85% of the year it was fine……but the depths of winter with two little boys to bathe and an outdoor bathroom….. i saved my ‘drying’ for just before bath time…. and i had the dryer in the bathroom. (though dryers are different there… the warm air comes out through a vern in the front into the room and the filter is on that vent. so easy to warm the room up with. xox here i have to undo a flexi pipe to do this.

So, until next week, keep warm, everyone. Only a little over a month until Spring arrives.

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4 Responses to Keeping Warm This Winter (II)

  1. graveday says:

    Familiar names there, heh. I have always felt uncomfortable with the notion of all that drier heat and humidity venting to the great outdoors. In a perfect world I would have it set up to vent into a small greenhouse. I don’t live in that world, but Wendy gave me an idea that might work in my world.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Grave, I never gave a thought to the dryer air, since I only use the w/d once or twice a month, but that is a great idea to warm parts of the house. Also like the idea of running it into a greenhouse if you use it every day (night?) It really is a waste of warm, moist air in the winter, isn’t it?
      If your idea works, please feel free to share it here.

  2. graveday says:

    Summers we lawn dry the laundry. It’s the only space with lawn left and when folks ask why I still some lawn I give them that little pun. It’s just a smallish oval with two lines running down each long side….good for about a load and a half.
    But winters not so much. There is a wheelchair ramp that runs along just where the dryer vents and even the outside vent flap deal impinges on that space. My wife has a wheelchair dependent niece who is about thirty now and when had that ramp put in I became uncle numero uno. It’s the only family house where she needs no more assistance than opening a gate. Anyway it occurred to me I could put an insulated duct that walkers could step over and wheelchairs could drive over in winter and run it to a small greenhouse past the ramp. It would be good for starting seeds, sheltering the potted avocado during freezes, and saving a few pads of cactus in case the freeze is hard and long. This would have much more of a chance passing spousal muster than blowing linty air through a sock back into the house, heh.
    Anyway, I got the germ of the idea here. Hear, hear.

    • theozarker says:

      Sounds great (and I agree that your wife might be more appreciative of that idea 🙂 ) If you try it, let us know how it works out. (And I think your niece is right, you’re a #1 good uncle.)

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