How we heat our homes is a major contributor to global warming. Often we overheat our homes and walk round in T-shirts in the middle of winter and then wonder why we are so prone to colds! The ideal temperature is between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius (65 to 70 Fahrenheit). It is easy to get used to 15 degrees. Simply turning the heating down a bit and wearing more clothing is a simple way to save a lot of money and it doesn’t encourage germs and viruses. It will also make you feel all virtuous! There are many other things we can do to reduce gas, electricity or oil costs in our homes.
My partner Sarah loves wearing a hat inside in the winter, which is a source of great amusement as she has quite an unusual collection. Fortunately I am blessed with a good head of hair so don’t wear one until bedtime. I must however confess to wearing a hoody quite often – even a double layer! Most of the heat in a human body leaves by the head so this is a great way to keep warm – as is cuddling Sarah when she gets hot flushes!.
We also move into the spare room in the winter, which is smaller and more central in the house. We turn off the radiator in the big bedroom, shut the door and hang a curtain in the passageway leading to it. This creates a considerable saving, about 20% of the house heating costs.
As Sarah goes out to work and I work at home, I bought a small caravan to use as an office and installed the tiniest pot bellied stove you ever did see. It gets really warm in there and saves heating the whole house for just one person (and the dog).
Many people are converting their home heating to wood burning or multifuel stoves in response to increasing energy costs. Gathering, sawing and burning your own wood is just a really efficient way to save energy and cut bills. Firstly you get warm (and fit) collecting the wood, packing it and getting it home. Then you get warm (and fit) sawing it up. Then you get warm sitting near it as it burns!
Finding a good mixture of work types on winter days is a useful way to keep warm. Incorporating physical work into a daily routine, if you don’t do it already, helps keep the blood warm. But it doesn’t all have to be work. One of my personal favourites is dancing salsa !
Even little tricks such as incorporating ginger, garlic, warm spices and peppers into the winter diet help build up the body’s ability to keep itself warm. I love hot French onion soup with cheese on toast but whole, oven-roast onion has all sort of beneficial elements.
Back to the basics of heating a home! Prices fluctuate. Is oil, gas or electricity cheaper this year? Multiple heating sources can help to save money. Zone heating is also a good way to concentrate heat where you need it, like a low kilowatt electric heater (safely) under the desk at which you work. The closer you can zone the heating to the person, rather than the building, the less it is going to cost. Never underestimate the sheer brilliance of a simple hot-water bottle and a blanket – or a hot woman for that matter!