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Heating your home (or not)


Sophelia
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Lot of people (in the Northern hemisphere at least) are going to be wondering how or whether to heat their houses very soon - due to high prices, environmental reasons, not wanting to use Russian gas etc..

I have two homes - one in a warmer country and one in a colder one, and have just had to go back to the colder one (UK) for work. I have a decent wage and gas central heating, but for all of the above reasons I would like to try and use the heating as little as possible.  But I dislike the cold and find it hard to work on the computer with cold hands, so I am in danger of giving in to temptation.  It's already today one degree lower in my house (17 centigrade) than the temperature I have kept my thermostat at (after moving it down gradually to acclimitise) to in previous years, and nowhere near winter yet.  I want to try and get through at least another month without heating, but it's daunting. I now don't think I'll be able to do it (might allow myself on cold days a small electric heater just for the room I work in - or else go in to a shared office and risk coronavirus instead). I thought it would help to have some moral support, but also it might be useful to pass on any tips about how to stay warm, as some people may not have the choice to turn the heating on. Going out to look for some fingerless gloves now.

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Last year our baby was really young so the heating was cranked up to 21. The wife will not be happy about it being 18.5 this year.

I'm just fanatical about heating the people and not the house, so during the day the heating will only be on in the kitchen where my wife works and she needs to keep the doors closed to avoid wastage (we have a few different thermostats so it's fairly easy to do). The biggest ball ache is I get up for work at 0530, so it takes a fair bit of energy to get it up to a decent heat in January and Feb. Luckily it's quite an efficient house with really big south facing windows so we get a lot of natural heat, and as its a townhouse we benefit when the neighbours put the heating on. 

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Personally, I prefer a somewhat lower room temperature (and have a dislike for overheated rooms, as I feel the air feels more used, and bah). So I have always tended to heat very little during winter. 

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My neighbours heated so much during the last winter that I had to let cold air in regularly or it would hit 25-26°C. I prefer 21-22°C in the living area and blow 20°C in the bedroom. Switched the heating off when I moved in in November and that was it.

We will see how it goes this year but it is a fairly new building that is well insulated.

Edited by Luzifer's right hand
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Open the blinds (or curtains) during the daytime, and remember to close them during the night to prevent radiative heat loss. You'd also be amazed how much warmer you feel just sitting in the sun's rays during the daytime.

Here in the US many utility companies offer smart thermostats that you can fiddle with on your phone remotely (for instance, Consumers Energy in Michigan provides Google Nest thermostats for free) where you can change the temperature when you are at work, for example, but pre-heat your house on the way home. I dont know if those thermostats work for houses heated by radiators rather than central air, for example....but its worth looking into. Overall its more energy efficient for the community as a whole, although you give up some of your 'liberty' by giving the utility company some access to your house.

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2 hours ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

Open the blinds (or curtains) during the daytime, and remember to close them during the night to prevent radiative heat loss. You'd also be amazed how much warmer you feel just sitting in the sun's rays during the daytime.

Here in the US many utility companies offer smart thermostats that you can fiddle with on your phone remotely (for instance, Consumers Energy in Michigan provides Google Nest thermostats for free) where you can change the temperature when you are at work, for example, but pre-heat your house on the way home. I dont know if those thermostats work for houses heated by radiators rather than central air, for example....but its worth looking into. Overall its more energy efficient for the community as a whole, although you give up some of your 'liberty' by giving the utility company some access to your house.

Those windows should be low-e glass to maximize heat  loss in winter.

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My hands don't do well in the cold at all (not even cold but just lack of warmth makes them go numb), and fingerless gloves wouldn't help me - it would just leave me with blue fingers. So I wear touchscreen gloves - similar to this minus the snowflake patterns. They wouldn't help in genuine cold, but for the intermediate stages they're good. 

Hot water bottles are great. If you use one to keep your stomach warm, it's supposed to make your body more willing to distribute heat to the limbs. Probably a myth, but a hot water bottle is still better than sitting there freezing. I like the idea of microwaveable heat pads, but have never tried one. 

As far as clothing goes, layers are key, though layers plus a gigantic thick fleece is best. I was in an unheated office last March, and wore two pairs of socks to work everyday. People laugh at thermal underwear now, but that's probably because they're from middle class homes and have never known life without double-glazing and affordable central heating. 

When I briefly lived in China, people used to keep a gigantic thermos flask full of hot water at home, and the thermos could continually be used to top up your tea container. That could be another way of having a continuous source of warmth close at hand. Obviously you don't have to use it for tea! (Whiskey toddy would be the tempting but very wrong path there. Things haven't got so bad that we're drinking to make our living conditions bearable yet, have they? :unsure:). 

I once overwintered in the capital of a land famous for not existing with a live-in landlord who was invulnerable to the cold and didn't believe in central heating. To be honest, when I wasn't at work I mostly stayed in bed under the duvet because it was the only way to keep warm. Or I went to cafes though this was a rather expensive solution to the problem. Or I hugged the big fluffy resident dog and felt slightly less sorry for myself.

Edited by dog-days
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Luckily we don't have gas heating. But so far the heating stays off. But we usually never start before October. My office is never heated and I also have issues working with cold hands. I have one of those massage and heating things you can put on the chair. That kind of works with the small inconvenience of having one of those massage nubs in a slightly awkward place. Add to that a generous supply of hot water and it becomes quite okay. The main source of heat are the two big screens in front of my nose anyway. If I need some extra heat, I can just close my eyes and lean forward for that awesome kissed by the sun feeling.

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Slightly off topic but my office is so old it's heating system needs to be changed in spring and autumn as it can only be set to blow hot or cold air, not both. Every 6 months an engineer comes out and replaces a part so I  can either heat or cool my office. It is the most inefficient thing I've ever seen. 

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Living in Sweden, heating is not optional. Fortunately my new house has a geothermal heat pump which is one of the more efficient solutions. Coupled with additional insulation in the attic and triple-glazed windows, it’ll be ok even if the electricity bills will be high this winter.

I’m thinking about installing solar panels on the roof to further reduce the electricity costs. The ROI is faster than ever. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks to everybody for all the tips. @dog-days I took your advice and bought a fleece rather than fingerless gloves and so far this has been really effective!  My feet are still cold but I am going to experiment with compression socks.  I also have a microwave heat pad which I use to warm up my feet in bed - it's really not as intense as a traditional hot-water bottle but if patient, it does the job eventually.

However I did succumb to turning my heating on when it dropped down to 7 centigrade outside - so I failed my resolution.   @IheartIheartTesla - I do have a Nest for my gas central heating.  So I am gradually trying to reduce my thermostat temperature further.  I've managed to get down another degree to 17, and have reduced to 16 in the main stretch of the day.  I've also shaved a bit off the start and end of the day to reduce the hours in which I have the heating on - hoping this will drive me to go to bed earlier but so far has only made it harder to get out of bed in the morning!

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