Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Keeping warm when the cold hits

Living in Canada has lots of advantages; living in warmth is not one of them. So if you are having difficulties staying warm on a budget, read on.
If you do not live in residence or at home, you are most likely paying for your own heat, which means that you do not want to ‘crank up’ the heat and be hit by huge bills at the end of the month.  If you have housemates, it’s time to have a meeting so that everyone in the house is on the same page. 

First of all, turn down the heat whenever nobody is in the house: if you are all away for the holiday, keep the heat on low, so that the pipes do not freeze, but not warm enough to be walking in indoor clothing.  Assuming most of your classes are during the day, the heat should be turned down during the day while you are keeping warm in class.
Second, seal any place that would leak heat.  That means around old windows, under outside doors. and electrical outlets – if you feel a cold draft in these areas, there is air leak.  Search online for the best way to seal these areas and talk to your landlord for him/her to pay for the material if you do the work (this is a typical agreement between tenants and landlord since both have a gain). 

One place that houses lose heat is windows – the glass itself is only so insulating.  Blocking all windows is not a good option since you will lose both natural light (which saves you electric light costs) and heat from the sun.  However, once the sun is down, the only thing your windows do is leak heat – therefore, close the curtains and thick curtains, insulated curtains are best.  Quilts, duvet, extra comforters, or thick winter blankets can work.  Make sure you only use them once it’s dark outside.
Remember also that the temperature you keep your house or apartment at does not have to be quite as high as the home your parents live in.  Wearing an extra sweater and slippers (or indoor shoes) inside is not a great inconvenience and can save your money. Area rugs on (all or) most floors in your home will help your abode feel warmer (the temperature will be the same but the feeling will be warmer because a rug is more insulating than a floor): this is especially true of bedroom floors in the middle of the night!

At night, since you are under blankets and we typically sleep better breathing slightly cooler air, decrease the heat a little at night.  To keep your bed comfortable, wear thick sleepwear and use extra blankets.  Much body heat can be lost through the head, so wearing a cotton or warm hat or a hood is not a bad idea.  I find that having (clean) socks at night help me be comfortable in bed and I find flannel sheets to feel the warmest when I get into bed (fleece sheets are also available nowadays).  Warming up a rice bag in the microwave and putting it in your bed (close to your feet) will also keep your warm and help you fall asleep.
Keep the heat you produce: if you are using the oven to bake, after your turn it off, open the door wide open (you may want to make up a mechanism to keep the light of the oven off so you don’t waste electricity) so the remaining heat is used to warm up the inside of the house and not an outside wall.

If you are very strapped for cash and are living in a large house, close off some of the rooms and turn off the heat in these.  For example, you can share bedrooms from December to March to decrease the heat costs of the house you live in. The unused rooms can be used by all for storage of your summer stuff (bikes, rollerblades, etc.) so that the used bedrooms are more spacious.  Choose the least insulated room(s) to close for the cold season.
Finally, if one room is much colder than the others, do not increase the heat for the entire house because of that one room; either insulate better that room (find out why that room is colder – maybe it has 3 outside walls), or add a space heater (make sure it’s a very safe model) for that room alone.

Although these ideas will not cut your heating costs down to zero, they will make winter more comfortable – for you AND your wallet!

1 comment:

  1. I forgot one very important thing: if you have a furnace, ask the owner of the house/apartment to change the filter of the furnace every Fall - or now if you have not done so this season. This will do two things: give you more heat for the money (since the filter will be cleaner, more hot air will go through) and keep the dust away from your breathing.