Choose One Thing: Turn Down The Heat

Choose One Thing

Back in November, we started experimenting with trying to lower our heat costs. Because of my arthritis, I have always been cold intolerant, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage at a temperature lower than 75.

I was shocked to discover that after a month I was able to acclimate to a temperature of 70 during the day, though my experiment to keep it at 66 failed. I was freezing 24/7.

In February, we started dropping the temperature to 66 only at night, and again I was surprised to find it didn’t bother me except when I got out of bed in the morning. I even think I have been sleeping better since we made that change. I preheat my bed every night with the mattress warmer, turn it off when I get into bed, and settle in with my flannel sheets, blanket, and comforter, and feel comfortable all night.

The past two weeks, since it has been ranging in the 50s during the day, we dropped the temperature to 66 during the day. I still wear a T-shirt, flannel, and hoodie most of the time, but I am not as cold as I thought I would be. Perhaps it is because there are no extra Arctic drafts sneaking through the house, but it just doesn’t feel as cold as it did at the same ambient temperature during the depths of winter.

I am hoping this latest experiment brings a nice decrease in our next month’s bill.

How about you, did you manage to keep your heat costs lower this winter?

Choose One Thing: Turn Down The Heat

Choose One Thing

It is mid-January, and we are still cruising along with our heat challenge. We are keeping the heat set at 70 for the day and a little less at night. Temperatures are below freezing this week, and it is feeling colder in the house. I have broken out the extra layer and the fingerless mitts a couple times, but we have not raised the temperature. I am mostly acclimated to this new temperature.

We are finally seeing a reduction in our bill. Our bill was running at about $215 (gas and electric), and our most recent one was $165, a savings of $50. When I started this, I read that you typically save 5% off your bill for every degree you lower the temperature in your house. We lowered our temperature 5 degrees, from 75 to 70, and we saved about 24.5%, so that is very close to that figure.

We are now looking into a program our local electric company is offering called HoM. They will install a new digital thermostat that can be linked to our computer and phones, and we can control the temperature remotely. The trade off is that it is only free if we allow them to turn off the heat or air during a few peak hours a few days per year to help conserve energy. Some friends of ours have been doing it without issue. The typically number of days per year is 10, and it happens during the day.

Choose One Thing: Turn Down The Heat

Choose One Thing

We visited my in-laws over the Christmas break, and something rather surprising happened. For the first time in over 10 years of visiting them up in northern Ohio, I was not freezing my tuchus off. In fact, I was feeling pretty hot at night, and kicked off the comforter.

Usually, I am sporting multiple layers, including multiple layers of socks, and shivering under a blanket the entire visit. My in-laws are pretty frugal, and keep the heat setting in the 60s. My husband seems to think this is some kind of Christmas miracle, but I think it means that I have reset my internal thermostat and am now comfortable at a lower temperature.

As someone with arthritis who was contemplating moving somewhere warm and southern during retirement, this comes as great news. I did not think it was ever possible. I am finding that even at home, I am wearing a double layer rather than a triple layer, I am not needing my fingerless mitts, and I am getting too hot at night unless I turn down the heat below 70.

I know.

Maybe it is a Christmas miracle after all.

 

Choose One Thing: Turn Down The Heat

Choose One Thing

2015-12-03 21.04.24

We’re almost a month into my Turn Down The Heat challenge, and we are still hanging around temperature of 70 during the day. This week I spent my day off working on preparing to turn down the heat even more overnight.

A few years ago, before we were surprised by pregnancy #3, we were starting the process of a master bedroom redo. We bought the house in 2005, and never got around to painting. Our master bedroom has white walls and we were going to paint them blue. I made a Pinterest board with bedroom ideas, and I bought a down-free comforter plus a duvet cover from Ikea I found on clearance.

I didn’t even have time to wash them before I was felled by hyperemesis that lasted the next nine months, and went straight from that into that first year fog.  This week, after my new Land’s End flannels were delivered, I pulled those out of the basement and washed them.

We now have a mattress warmer, flannel sheets, and the down-free comforter with a pretty blue and white duvet cover. I have trialed it the past two nights and have gotten hot, which is nothing short of a miracle.

Next step: turning down the temperature to about 65 during the night. We shall see how this goes!

Choose One Thing: Back Off The Heat

Choose One Thing

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It’s been two weeks since I started my campaign of frozen terror. I tried a “back off the heat” challenge about four years ago, and lasted only  a few days before it really started to bother my arthritis.

The surprise this time is that my husband has started to complain that it’s too cold in the house. We’ve ended up bumping it up a notch to 68-70 instead of 66, and though I am still wearing a sweater and LL Bean slippers around the house, I am comfortable.

I am considering trying to kick it back down a notch at night, though. We have a faux down comforter packed away (can’t do real down due to allergies) and I am pulling that out and pairing it with our flannel sheets and mattress warmer. It will be a little brisk getting out of bed in the morning, but I think we can swing a full 12 hours of extra frigid over night to keep our heating costs down, if it means I am more comfortable during the day.

Yes, I envy you people with a warm metabolism.

Choose One Thing: Back Off The Heat

Choose One Thing

Not to beat this phrase to death, but winter is coming, and it’s getting colder here in the Midwestern United States. We’ve had some unseasonably warm days this week, but at night and early morning, I am starting to freeze my tootsies off.

I am someone who is always cold, except at the height of summer. Most of the time, I am wrapped in a blanket, and my husband can attest my feet feel like ice most of the time. To top it off, I have arthritis, and my joints can get stiff and ache more than usual all winter long.

For those reasons, we have always kept our thermostat on 75 during the winter. When I was pregnant, my husband loved it, because I was so hot I wanted it to be at 65, and our electric bill would drop dramatically. Sadly, that never lasted longer than the pregnancies.

Our bill has already started to climb, and this winter I want to try and see if I can make a dent in it. We already did air sealing and we do insulate our windows during the cold season.

If I prepare and find ways to stay comfortably warm, even if it means I walk around looking like the Human Cocoon, will I be able to last the winter with the heat turned down to 70 or less? Supposedly, for every degree you lower your heat, you will save 5% in energy costs.

I had to buy post-pregnancy clothes this year, and I have outfitted myself with flannels, hoodies, wool socks, Cuddl Duds, fingerless mitts, a mattress warmer, and shearling lined slippers.

On Saturday, I dropped the heat to 72. I definitely felt cold, but could be comfortable with a sweater, hoodie, and slippers. Yes, feel free to laugh, you cold-tolerant people! My mattress warmer kept me comfortable at night after a few adjustments.

Yesterday, I dropped it to 70. The kids did not complain, and I fared well. I was going to give myself a few days to acclimate more, and then drop it to 68, but last night I decided to drop it a bit before bed, overshot it, and it’s 66 in here today. We don’t have a digital thermostat (it’s on my husband’s procrastination list), so it was hard to tell where exactly it was.

How am I doing? I was chilly when I got out of bed, but I bundled up as usual, and I’m doing fine. My feet are a little cold, but I haven’t pulled out the woolens today (that might have to change). I work today, so I have my Snuggie at the ready. We’ll see how it goes for the next week, as the outdoor temperature starts to drop.

The good news: It’s really only 4 months until spring. I can do anything for 4 months, right?

How low do you keep your thermostat?

Choose One Thing: Eat At Home

Choose One Thing

We have an eggplant meal in the freezer, but I’m not the one who made it. I have everything I’ll need for eggplant parm, but my mother surprised us by bringing over eggplant rolls today when she came to watch my girls for a few hours. Those are now in the freezer, and I am prepping eggplant parm for tonight.  I don’t have enough room in my freezer for another large dish.

The falafel is another story. I do have room for a bag of falafel, so I am soaking chickpeas as we speak, and will cook them in the slow cooker overnight, with plans to whip up a batch tomorrow.

I had planned on cooking all this week, but my sister has decided to come over and stay the weekend for Halloween. I am going to prep some homemade pizzas for Saturday night, but we will be driving south and picking her up right at dinner time on Friday. I am reorganizing my menu and will throw either a chili or a meat sauce for spaghetti in the slow cooker, so we are ready to roll when we get home.  Things may be afoot at work that may make me unable to continue working in the new year, and we want to hold on to every penny possible.

Choose One Thing: Eat At Home

Choose One Thing

We made it through another week of avoiding unplanned eating out. This week, I have been researching vegetarian freezer meals. There really isn’t a lot out there, to be honest. Most recipes I have found are for burritos, lasagna, cheesy pasta, and different soups that are not appealing to me (like curry!).

I did find a couple things that piqued my interest however.

This weekend, I am planning on throwing together an eggplant parm and some falafel, and stashing them in the freezer. Hopefully they won’t turn out with an icky freezer taste when the time comes to cook them!

Any meat eaters want to chime in with your favorite freezer meals?

Choose One Thing: Eat At Home

Choose One Thing

This month we are working on eliminating one thing: unplanned meals out.

There were a couple times last week when we were deeply tempted. I worked very late Friday, and had a 7 PM massage therapy appointment. I almost caved, but I spent 30 minutes throwing together spaghetti with sauteed onion, zucchini, mushroom, and kidney beans.

On Saturday, we went to the Zoo, and I threw together PB & J, oranges, and water bottles so we wouldn’t be tempted at the Zoo. We planned ahead that we would buy Icees as a treat, and we did. My husband wanted to get pulled pork for lunch, and that was fine (we all have fun money to spend).

That evening, we went to my mother’s to bring some grandbaby snuggles, as she had been to a friend’s funeral that morning. We decided to bring dinner with us so she wouldn’t have to feed us, and picked up pizza. Totally worth it!

Looking ahead to this week, I work 2 days- yesterday and Friday. Yesterday I threw a meal into the slow cooker, and that covered us. Friday, I have a simple lentil and rice meal planned. If things get out of hand, we can throw spaghetti together or some eggs and toast. Saturday is eating in for the boys and the baby, and my daughter and I have a date at McDonalds after seeing a show. I have a coupon for a free Happy Meal when you buy an extra value meal.

We aren’t against small luxuries (within budget), but don’t want to blow it with constant temptations.

My homework for this week will be to research some vegetarian freezer meals, so I can have 1 or 2 as backup. Any suggestions?

Choose One Thing: Eat At Home

Choose One Thing

We’ve made it another week without having take-out for dinner.  This week, I knew I was working a rare three-day week, and planned to make a vegetarian lasagna that would last at least 3 days.

I have a few back-ups plans should we go through the lasagna too fast, however.  The frozen cheese pizza is still in the freezer, we have plenty of peanut butter, and I have some pasta and jarred sauce that I can throw together with zucchini and onion.

I have been making this Regency Toasted Cheese on my homemade bread for lunch, and think it would also make a great backup on a rough weeknight too. I calculated it costs $0.31 per slice, or about $2 worth for all 5 of us.

Some other quick vegetarian ideas I am eyeballing:

Polenta with Marinara, Egg, and Sauteed Mushroom

Red Beans and Rice

Mushroom Lemon and Lentil Salad (combines three of my favorites, lentils, mushroom, and arugula)