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How warm is your home?

I had hoped to blog about something interesting today, but nothing is coming to mind because all I can think about is how bloody cold I am.

It’s 34 below zero outside with the wind chill. That’s -29 Farenheit. I’m FREEZING. And I’m not even outside – I’m in my house, which is 18 C, or 64 F.

My programmable thermostat is still set to what it was when I was working, which is pretty chilly during the day and overnight (17 C), but warmer first thing in the morning and evenings and weekends (19 C). (How warm do you keep your home?)

When I was a kid, I was cold all the time. I lived for about five years in an old brick schoolhouse which was very cold and drafty and expensive to heat. My bedroom was in the basement at the end of a hallway, and it didn’t have a heat vent going into it. I promised myself, as I lay shivering in my bed every night, that when I grew up I would live in a nice warm house.

But then I grew up and lived in a series of apartments, most of which allowed me no control over the temperature. Some of them were hot, some were cold. My cumulative life experience was that I had no more control over the indoor weather than I did over the outdoor weather.

Until three years ago, when I bought a house. Now that I finally have control over the temperature, I’ve discovered I tend to be kind of cheap when it comes to home heating. I’d rather wear three sweaters than crank up the thermostat. I think subconsciously I interpret warmth as a sign of waste. Maybe it was because I was raised that way, I don’t know.

My last gas bill was about $65. It’s a small house, in the middle of a row, but still. That’s pretty low, isn’t it?

24 comments to How warm is your home?

  • Carmen

    Yes, that’s quite low!! We, too, keep it cool, especially at night, but sometimes I do pamper myself and raise it a bit…like today…

  • Ma’am, that’s low. Even Casa Coyote, tiny dog-sized den of iniquity that it is, doesn’t do much better…

  • I either have my heat turned off, or have it cranked on max. Mostly because 1: I’m extremely lazy, and 2: by the time I get around to turning it on it’s really, really needed. Fortunately I’m in an apartment, with electric heating, and even so my hydro last month was only… maybe $30.

  • John

    Programmable thermostats are really great – when I bought my house, I installed one 6 months later and it was a very smart move (and pretty straightforward to do). That said, I’ve noticed that it takes very little time for the furnace to heat the house, so keeping it off when not home and then blasting it when you first come in might be a good approach too if you’re stuck with mechanical means.

    What I’m trying to do is to find and solve air leakage. At the elevations between the floors, there can be strong drafts. I have an old home (1910s) that I’ve spent a lot of time and money insulating and re-insulating, but I’m still having those issues. Anyone have any recommendations about who I might contract for help in plugging leaks?

  • Heat is a constant conundrum between me and Dave. I’m perpetually cold, he’s perpetually hot. But since it’s my house and I pay the bills I usually win (unless he sneaks open a window…) The heat in my house, overnight (because I have a big warm blanky and three toasty snuggly cats) and when I’m not home, gets turned down to between 60 and 65. When I’m home it’s much warmer. I’ve been good this winter and so far, thrown on warmer clothes and kept it around 70 or 72 most days, but there have been a few days when Dave’s not home and I’ve cranked it up to 78-80 and run around in my underpants!

    I think your gas bill is pretty cheap – I’m in a 900 sq ft two-storey, end unit and in the winter my bill varies between $80 and $120… but maybe I’m just paying for those glory-filled underwear days….

  • XUP

    I don’t have to pay for heat, but I keep the thermostat pretty low – around 65 F. I don’t like it too warm. I find most people homes, workplaces, buses, shops, etc. are way too hot in the winter and way too cold in the summer.

  • Libra

    Programmable thermostats (baseboard electric heating, so one thermostat per baseboard heater) are set to 18 degrees celsius while we are normally home and not asleep, and to 13 at all other times. We override the set programs when we have visitors (higher setting), when we are home and normally shouldn’t be (higher setting), when we deviate from our normal sleep patterns (higher setting) or when we leave on trips (lower setting). Although most people can only find faults with electric baseboard heating, there are several advantages too: (1) we heat using Bullfrog Power, so zero greenhouse gases to heat our home; (2) if we are home when we shouldn’t be, we can choose to only set the thermostat in the rooms we are in to the higher setting; (3) if we are down with a cold or something and need heat at night, we can heat the bedroom only. Cheers!

  • I rent in a poorly-insulated old (1930’s ish) house and I have electric baseboard heating. The good thing about that is that I don’t have to heat the whole house. (I don’t use A/C in the summer, though last year I bought a window fan to help with circulation)

    I keep my bedroom at 22-23C, and it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve found the sweet spot on the heater dial to keep it there and not too hot or too cold. My other rooms I keep as cool as I can tolerate.

    I also use lots of blankets and comforters, even in the summer, so don’t chastise me for keepin’ things hot!

    – RG>

  • I have a programmable thermostat – 64F at night and while I am at work, 70F otherwise – but when I am home on a work day, I override it and set it at 70. My house used to be really uncomfortable in the winter, too hot while the furnace ran and too cold when it didn’t – but I had a new two-stage furnace installed a couple of years ago and now the temp stays more even. To warm up the house a bit, you could do what I am doing today: bake a pie!

  • Arden

    We go down to 16 overnight, and I find I still overheat in bed. It’s set to go up to 18 in day, but I sometimes override and bring it up to 19… I find I’m cold in the house most of the time I’m up, since I have crappy circulation, and don’t move much, but at night I overheat like crazy, and when I overheat I get stress dreams and nightmares. I often leave my bedroom window open through much of the winter.

  • Nat

    I was working in my kitchen today, and I was freezing, I thought it was because of the sliding door letting cold air in… turns out the thermometer was set to 15 because of the warm weather last week… no wonder I was cold.

    This year my toes seem to be cold all the time.

  • My thermostat goes to 19 when I should be home, 15 when I should be at work. When I was a kid, my room was in the basement and I was always cold when the heat was turned down at night, so I have a severe dislike of being too cold when I’m sleeping. Of course, I was laid off a few months ago, and some days I get far too cold and have to turn up the heat when I’m home during the day.

  • grace

    About 18 but I cranked it to 20 tonight because our bedroom measures 16 at the warmest time of the day — and it was nowhere near that last night. I slept in flannel pj’s and wool socks and was still uncomfortable.

  • Holy Icicles!

    I don’t have central heat. I have a little wood stove in a little (and inviting) park model trailer about 40′ long, 8′ wide with 2 curved “tip-outs” One holds my loveseat in the living room and the other almost holds my double bed. It’s my sweet little hobbit house, with curves, golden walls, stained glass lamp, lots of windows to connect me to the outdoors and bamboo flooring.

    The walls are thin, but the Maritime Pacific NW is a moderate climate. And I love the radiant heat and dryness of the wood stove since we get so much drizzle and grey. If I’m gone all day it takes a while to heat the place up so I usually use an electric space heater to take the chill off until the stove heats up. I do that on some mornings as well.

    I stay comfortable without thinking much about it. If it’s colder I add more wood more often. It’s mild tonight so I’m letting the fire die down some.

    The fire goes out most nights but I stay snuggy in bed with flannel sheets (year round) and 9″ of down comforter and I have one of those magic foam pads. That keeps me warm underneath as well. It is my favorite bed of all time. My last GC who visited often for a couple of years moaned every time he hit the sheets, “Oohhhh, this is sooo comfortable.”

    Most winter nights I preheat my bed with a hot water bottle heated in the microwave. If it’s really cold (like in the mid-20s or below here), I heat rice bags as well and sleep with socks on.

    Mostly I’m as snug as the proverbial bug.

  • Deb

    Our house is about 2000 sq ft and our Enbridge Gas Bill averages about $160/month. We have a programmable thermostat that is set for about 16 at night and during the day, and for about 19 when we are home at night. Plus we have the fireplace. My internal thermometre isn’t working right now … that 50’s thing.

  • Carmen, me too – I ended up overriding it yesterday.

    Coyote, I’ve always wondered how you dogs keep your houses warm, since you don’t have real doors.

    James, that’s pretty good that you can heat your apartment for $30 a month.

    John, I have leakage too. I can feel the wind coming through the front door. If you figure out how to fix it, let me know.

    Valerie – I love that phrase “glory-filled underwear days.”

    XUP – I agree most people keep their houses too cold in the summer. But there’s nothing I like better than a nice warm house in the winter. I’m too cheap to do it myself, but I love visiting warm houses.

    Libra, 13, wow, that’s cool. I thought I was doing well with 17. How does Bullfrog Power work?

    Grouchy, I’m often freezing when I climb into bed, but I warm up quickly, and frequently get too hot during the night. And that’s with the temperature set to 17. I think I’d perish in a 23 degree room!

    Abby, I think your settings are closest to mine. I like the idea of supplementing gas heat with pie.

    Arden, same with me – I’m plenty warm during the night.

    Nat, just your toes? Handknit socks will solve that.

    Colette, me too, I sometimes have to over-ride the pre-layoff thermostat settings. I try not to, but I sometimes do.

    Grace, more quilts!

    Cheryl, I can’t even imagine living somewhere that didn’t require central heat. I do love wood stoves, and your home sounds very cozy.

    Deb, that’s interesting. You keep your house a little cooler than mine. I thought I kept mine quite cool, but it seems lots of people are a degree or two cooler. (Or, in Libra’s case, FOUR degrees cooler.)

  • Ask a cold-blooded person how they sleep at night, and they say “with lots of blankets and a 24-degree bedroom”. Why else would I have a pointy goatee?

    – RG>

  • megabytes

    My thermostat is set for 21C when we’re up & at home, and 16C when we’re away & asleep. Since we’re the middle unit in a row we benefit from the neighbours’ warm walls, and my gas bill is fairly low. It’s only at this time of year, when it’s über cold and the wind’s blowing from the north-west, that we feel the chill. I’ve installed window plastic and insulating gaskets on the wall switch plates of exterior walls, and I’ve done some caulking along the baseboards and window frames.

    I’m also a fan of many blankets – duvets, quilts & afghans – and pillows. And piles of cats.

  • I have to admit to having it at 22C because 1. I’m old and suffer from cold, and 2. I have arthritis and suffer from cold. I do turn it down to 19 at night when I crawl into my bed covered by a nice electric blanket, sigh…

  • Gillian

    The house is set at 20C, (18 at night) but I wear at least 2 layers, and bedsocks almost all year. I also have flannelette on the bed and an afghan over the duvet. In the summer I bring the temp up to about 23. DH really feels the heat so it’s a compromise.

  • mosprott

    Funny you should ask…(ours isabout $125/mo during the coldest months, @ 65F, 800sq ft underinsulated house). A coworker came in the other day and announced that, because of the holidays and snow, her bill was higher than usual because it was for five weeks. But she wasn’t at all concerned about the $1000 total(!?!). Seemed to think that was perfectly reasonable for a house kept at 65, with some rooms blocked off. I nearly spit out my tea. So, yeah, you’re apparently doing pretty well…

  • Libra

    Hey Zoom,

    Bullfrog is an electricity retailer that offers green zero-emission electricity in a number of provinces, including Ontario. All of their electricity is powered by wind or small hydro-electric projects that have been certified as having a low-enviro-impact. The way it works is that they inject into the grid an amount of green electricity that is sufficient to power all of their clients’ needs (they are audited regularly to ensure that they have covered the electricity needs of their clients). In essence, it means that I pay about $10 to $15 more each month for the lighting bill, and in the colder months, about $35 more per month for heating (separate meters, a relic from the 1970s). Here’s their web site:

    As for 13 degrees at night: I like to be buried in comforters, with just my cold-to-the-touch nose sticking out. 😉 Cheers

  • Rob H


    I was told that 18 was too low. I have been climatized to it now, and I know when the heat it up to 20.

    Is 18 too low to keep a 1900sf house warm? I believe in
    “easy on the pocketbook”.

    Let me know.


  • This is my first time reading your blog, but I can already say that I love it! Keep up the work!