About two hours later, just I was considering getting off the couch so I could brave the frigid temperatures outside and commute in to the office, Love trudged into the living room from the bedroom (must be nice waking up at 10 a.m.) and looked perplexed and parched.
"LOVE!!!" he said, as he rounded the corner into the room. I was so startled that I immediately thought something bad had happened, like he saw an ax murderer standing behind me or Lola had pooped on the carpet. Nope. He was facing the thermostat and I instantly knew the cause of his outburst.
"No wonder it's so hot in here," he said. "You've got this thing set to 87!!" Yes, I can't lie. I, like most girls, prefer being warm over cold, and lack the thick skin that I should probably have already grown by living through more than a few East Coast winters. Well there's more to the story too. I guess I failed to mention that getting "settled" on the couch for work also means wrapping myself up like a taquito in a blanket with just my arms sticking out, and putting my space heater on full blast in front of my legs. Hey I was cold, and I'm from California. Zero degrees fahrenheit (which was the temperature outside this morning) is not a part of my vocabulary. At least I can admit that of all my cavalier utility delights, I'm most guilty of consuming electricity for heat (as evidenced).
And so I'm stuck at the tail-end side of a giant region of the country that is currently swathed in sub-artic temperatures. It is currently -2 degrees here in downtown D.C., for example, and someone I know in Minneapolis recently lamented that the high there was -12 (the low? -32. He couldn't even start his car). If that doesn't make you, too, want to wrap yourself up like a giant taquito in a sleeping bag, then I don't know what would.
I like my thermostat on at 87, my myriad layers of blankets and foot heater warming my tootsies, thankyouverymuch, but I suppose I should be more budget-concious about staying warm and saving money. What better place to research energy info than the U.S. Department of Energy? I found some fabulous tips, and hopefully they'll help you all stay warm too!
- Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Cover Drafty Windows. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
- Adjust the Temperature. When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature. See ENERGY STAR's June 5, 2008, podcast for video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.
- Find and Seal Leaks. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Find out how to detect air leaks. Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
- Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly—approximately 1 inch—and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room. And don't forget to add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs. Water heating can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands. [U.S. Dept. of Energy]