Keeping Warm This Winter

When I was a kid in the 1970s our family – like many Americans – followed President Nixon’s ‘Project Independence’ national energy plan, which included lowering our thermostat to 68-degrees during the day.

In 1977, new President Jimmy Carter went 3-degrees lower, asking Americans to cut the thermostat temperature down to 65-degrees. That was cold! We wore sweatshirts indoors, quilted “polar slippers” from the JCPenney catalog, and often had roaring (but likely inefficient) logs in the fireplace. My Grandma even sewed a pair of mittens to a pillow for my Grandpa to hold in his lap!

This year, natural gas and heating oil are up more than +25% and the Biden Department of Energy is recommending people heat their houses to 68-degrees. I don’t think that is probably different than what they have been saying for some time now. They claim this is “which will give a comfortable level of heat while insulating you against hefty energy bills.” Further, they recommend you lower it another 7-10 degrees at night or while you are gone.

Our energy bills (gas & electric) average between $400-$550 a month in the winter, but we haven’t done much to change our habits this year. I had to look in our Nest app to even see what our heating schedule is: 70-degrees during the day and 66-degrees at night. Occasionally we will turn it up a degree or two, but we never turn it down.

The radiant floor heat in our lower level is at 68-degrees 24/7, which is nice and toasty underfoot. We’re such energy gluttons, we even heat our garage – it’s set to 60-degrees during the day and 40 at night (although it never really needs to come on at night since it’s so well insulated).

I suppose, given the inflation, we are due to pay about $600 extra in home energy bills this winter. I hate to literally be burning so much extra money, but until we leave for Florida, that’s what I think we will do. At that point, I imagine I’ll set it down to the thermostat down to the low 60s while we are gone.

Have you adjusted your thermostats / behavior due to the change in energy prices?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Keeping Warm This Winter

    1. I’ve always wanted to get some of those flannel-lined jeans. The daily high temperatures are heading into the single digits next week. Maybe I should get out my LL Bean catalog and order a pair quickly!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. My house gets most of its heat from passive solar. I built my house in 1989 when energy was a great deal cheaper than now, yet had to go through an energy calculation where the guy did a great job. During the day, my house hits to 70 or above from Southern facing windows, and during the night drops into low 60s. We use sweatshirts and sweatpants during the early morning, and down comforters at night. You can hear my neighbors heat pumps cranking during days when ours is quiet. Sitting in the dining room with the morning sun coming in through the windows seems to make it seem warmer than the what the thermostat on the thermometer says. If I built my house again today, one of the things I would change doing extreme insulating and use low solar heat gain windows on the Summer side of the house.

    We are seeing some uptick in electricity prices that were already the worst in the mainland USA. The rates are time of use, which charge approximately 3X as much between 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM. I have scheduled my spa to start heating and filtering at 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Doing a little top-off on the heat at 6:00 am is relatively cheap. Year over year, I will be up $400, so not much to worry about.

    My memories of the late 70s in Wisconsin was be really cold wearing long sleeve sweatshirts and pants in the gym. I also remember the second worst President of my lifetime, Jimmy Carter, wearing sweaters when giving speeches from the oval office.

    And, Gavin Newsom wants everyone to start driving an EV?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your passive solar set-up sounds great for both energy efficiency and seasonal affective disorder! When we built, we installed big windows on the side of our house that faces West-SW. We pick up a lot of heat from the sun those windows. Not a formal ‘passive solar’ set-up, but very nice in the winter. (Blinds get pulled in the summer!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In my case the passive solar just worked out that way. I designed my house to maximize views of the ocean, mountains, and city lights, which all happened to be the south. Every room in my house has the majority of its windows facing south. The energy calculations were part of the normal building permit process. So I ended up with a lot of double paned windows that were facing south.

        One of the other steps I did for esthetics was having light weight concrete poured on the second and third story for sound deadening like an office building. The first floor is concrete. All this concrete provides thermal mass.

        With access to information on the internet, I could maximize the passive solar further without spending much more if I built my house today. I would up spec my insulation in the walls and roof. Glass technology has also improved. On the north, east, and west sides of the house, I would specify glass that filters out infrared light. I also have some large skylights that can be replaced with better glass for higher efficiency.

        You are spot on about the abundance of natural daylighting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As I’m sure you know from your time in Wisconsin, Midwest houses are pretty tight to begin with. in addition, we have the premium Andersen 800 windows & foam insulation. In all the walls. Tight & quiet! Yet no

        Liked by 1 person

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