Shorter Days Mean Bigger Bills

by Katy on October 18, 2008 · 13 comments


Summer’s long warm days have come to a close, and with them go many of the money saving and green living opportunities.

Outdoor clothesline?


Nice bright rooms with sunlight streaming through the windows?


Fresh veggies from the garden?

I don’t want to talk about it.

And yeah, I’ve started running the furnace in the morning. (Otherwise no one was willing to get out of bed.)

Is it possible to continue energy conservation efforts into the dark, cold days of fall and winter?

Yes and no.

No, because nothing can truly beat the long hot days of summer for clotheslines, fresh veggies from the garden and sunlight that brightens a room.

Yes, because there are certainly ways to adapt conservation efforts to year-round use.

Here’s a few tips to help:

Add an extra layer of clothing before turning your furnace on. Why should we expect to wear T-shirts in winter months?

Throw an extra blanket on the bed. I actually prefer sleeping in a cool room anyway.

Lower the temperature in your house. I have a programmable thermostat that I gradually lowered without anyone noticing. I keep it at 60 degrees during the day and 57 degrees at night. Sound extreme? We adapted without a peep from anyone.

Be vigilant about turning lights off when leaving a room. Yes, even the compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Even if the days of summer are past, you do not need to resign yourself to abandonment of your green living goals.

How are you able to continue living green into the winter months? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Hydra October 19, 2008 at 1:27 am

Really enjoy reading your site and ideas. But 60 degrees during the day?! I can’t believe you even had to turn on the furnace to get it to 60 degrees. I’m not sure my body could adapt to that. It’s 67 in our house, and I’m shivering with a sweater and other warm clothes. I’m especially not looking forward to the start off the rain with the dampness that just seeps into my bones!


thenonconsumeradvocate October 19, 2008 at 6:30 am

Perhaps I should elaborate.

I keep the thermostat at 6o degrees during the day and turn it to 64 or 65 if we’re feeling cold. I had tried keeping it higher and turning it down when not at home, but always forgot to do it. So for me, it’s easier to to keep it low and turn it up if I’m cold. I wear an extra layer, (fleece cardigan or some such thing) and am usually moving around, which keeps me warm.

We adapted.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


steplikeagiant October 19, 2008 at 9:34 am

I put a wool blanket between my mattress pad and my flannel bottom sheet. In the house, I wear fingerless wool gloves, wool socks and wool sweater, wrap myself in a fleece afghan and wear a fleece hat (I sleep in it too.) We haven’t turned on the heat yet and it frosted last night. I am going to try to keep it at 60 in the day and 55 at night. My hub is from drafty old England so he doesn’t even notice. He loves to tell me about how growing up they had one coin operated bar heater for the entire house!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl October 19, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Oh, man! I don’t know that I have the guts to do 60. lol We keep ours at 67, although happily we have not had to turn ours on yet. I’m REALLY hoping to not have to do it at all in October.


esther October 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I actualy still use the clothesline in the winter…We heat the house with wood, and the waterheater has its own space, where I hang my clothes to dry…


CanadianKate October 19, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Our furnace is still off and I’m hoping to keep it off until Nov. 1 (an arbitrary date, I had hoped October 15 but that was no challenge at all this year.) Our house was 61 when we woke up this morning despite it being 28 outside (and a hard frost). It is now up to 66 just from the sun warming the house up during the day (it only got up to 50 today.)

I wear a sweater and shoes (keep my feet warm and I’ll feel warmer all over) and keep moving in the house (unless watching tv, in which case we have blankets to wrap ourselves in.) My dh uses a space heater for a few minutes every hour in the office, uses a blanket around his legs and we keep his room sealed off from the rest of the house to keep any solar gain with him.

I’m cooking more meals in the oven than usual (although tonight we are bbqing) and if I get really chilly I run the gas fireplace for a few minutes.

At night, I put a heated bean bag at the foot of the bed to warm my feet and have a heating pad to warm my back if I need it. We have a water bed with a feather-bed on top of it, so the bed is lovely and warm.


CanadianKate October 19, 2008 at 2:33 pm

I dry my sheets outside all winter. Last year my poor dh had to shovel over 4′ banks because we had so much snow and by March my sheets were dragging in the snow because it was so high in the yard.

I dry most of our regular clothes inside routinely on a drying rack in the spare bedroom. A load will dry in 12 – 24 hours. Towels, I pop in the dryer, along with jeans. So, in winter, my dryer is used by me for 1 – 2 loads a week. My adult son uses it for another 2 loads unless I’m doing his laundry for him.


Meadowlark October 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

I feel extra bad now!!! 🙂
I live with a family (Husband and babygirl) who are notoriously wimps! So the furnace is set to 63 overnight, comes on at 5:45 – 67, down to 60 at 7:30a, turns back on at 4:30p to 68 or so until 9:30. So it helps having a programmable, and it depends on who is going to be home when. Also, if we have a fire in the fireplace I’ll drop it back to 60, but since we haven’t had any firewood delivered yet this year, we haven’t had many fires.

OK, so I’ll be the resident slacker so everybody else can feel not-so-bad. 🙂 Ya’ll can thank me later.


jinger October 19, 2008 at 6:48 pm

I live in a climate where I rarely have to turn on the heat. Just today, I was swimming outdoors in 65 degree water with an air temperature of 80. Of course, in the summer, AC is a must, as temperatures rise to 100 and above and my energy bills reflect it during those 3 months.


Mrs Green October 19, 2008 at 11:02 pm

Like Esther, we heat with wood (which means our bills are pretty much constant throughout the year) and still line dry in the winter – if you get rid of the tumble dryer, then you begin to get very good at telling the weather LOL!

A neighbour has produce from her garden ALL year round; I need to take some lessons from her, but right now I’m bottling cooking apples because I know that in a few weeks time we’ll be importing them and charging a fortune for them in the shops.

I find winter quite cheap for food, as you can buy sacks of potatoes, carrots and onions and live off stews and soups for a few months. Add some home made soup and a few dried beans and you’re well away.


Wendy October 20, 2008 at 4:52 am

A setting of 60f during the day is easy. I figure that when the sun is shining and I am moving around, there is little need to set the thermostat higher. Sunless days prompt me to set it higher to 62f, however. When you get cold during the day, the key is to get moving! Home cooking also helps boost the comfort level inside and out. At night, I depart from others: my rationale, the sun is down and my body temperature drops when I am still. Setting my thermostat to 66f from 9p – 6a keeps it comfortable during shower hour and during early morning, as well.


Joy October 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm

That’s true, but I find we spend less in other ways during winter–we don’t eat creemees (soft serve for those not in New England) all the time, we don’t drive around so much because of bad roads, I cook a lot more homemade foods because it’s not too hot in the kitchen and like you, I really enjoy sleeping in a chilly room at night.

I have made a pledge to myself to try to use our outdoor clothesline until the end of November, freezing cold fingers or not. I’m also keeping my eyes open for an indoor drying rack.


Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks October 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I don’t have a washer, so even in winter I’m washing in tubs out on the porch. Really bad weather, things have to go on the drying rack. I’ve put broomsticks across chairbacks for temporary drying racks. We are real tightwads with elec – no tv, no computer at home, just some lights and kitchen appliances.


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