Winter (Part 1)

In theory, I think that winter is pretty. There is that calm that comes over you when there is enough snow on a weekend morning that muffles all the noises. You can start the morning slow, some music on the radio, a hot cup of tea in your hand, staring out at the snow falling. If I’m lucky, I can see some wild life.

In practice, winter is an evil succubus of heat. I am always cold. There are very few occasions where I am warm from October to May. I usually spend about an hour a day outside. Some of this is walking over a bridge. Let me tell you, if you haven’t walked over a bridge in negative temperatures, you’re lucky.

There are things that you can do that will help with your warmth in the winter. I have broken these down into “Home” and “Personal” (Aka Part 2).

Home:

Find the cold spots in your house and deal with them.

Also known as: Heat is good. Keep it where you want it.

  • Heat will leave your home. Knowing where these spots are and being able to solve the heat escaping can often be a reasonably inexpensive endeavor. For instance, while in my rented home, there are nice newish windows, whoever installed them didn’t insulate the sides well, and there are some breezes that flow through. I have plastic’ed the windows where this is a problem (there are 3). It takes me 20 minutes. It saves me money on the heating bill.
  • Doors are big, huge gaping holes in your home. Get a sash sweep, a draught dodger, or do some foam tape insulation so that a seal is made. Takes 10 minutes, tops.
    There are some lesser areas where heat can be lost such as outlet. Outlet insulators are just a sort of flat piece of insulation with the cutouts for the switch/plug. Takes negligible time per outlet to do.
  • You may have noticed that many of the ‘sealing heat in’ ideas also are keeping the air inside your house. Unless you have a heat source that isn’t combustion based (i.e. electric), there is a chance that your setup may be producing carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that will kill you. Now, I am speaking from experience here, as a child, our furnace, a flue, and a pigeon all conspired against my family in such a way that it killed the family fish, and we woke up in a hospital (thanks to the babysitter who came to our house when my mom didn’t drop me off). Symptoms include headaches, tiredness, and a stomach flu like illness. Buy a carbon monoxide detector. Remember to put batteries in it. Remember that they only last a certain amount of years and replace them when necessary. (I like to put reoccurring reminders in my calendar for this type of thing.)
  • Use a timed thermostat. I’m sort of amused that everyone hasn’t transitioned to this yet. They’re easy to install (I did my own). Sure, you can buy a fancy, phone controlled, thermostat, but you don’t need to drop $300 on something like this. I’ve had this one for a decade, and it paid for itself in a month.
  • I live in a small home, so while this may seem like a no-brainer, there are people that need to be reminded of this: your furniture will impact the flow of heated air in your rooms. Don’t put a couch in front of the vent. Don’t put a shelf over the air returns. I have what I call ‘summer and winter conformations of furniture’ so that in the winter the warm air blows into the room and not into the back of my couch and in the summer the sun doesn’t impair my TV viewing.

I’m sure that winter will be a continuing series for the forseeable future. I’m sure that you’re all interested in how I survive in a place that has winter and yet I set my thermostat for 58 at night. .

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