Winter, already?

Fall lasted for about a week, maybe a week-and-a-half tops, followed by two days of rain, followed by, eh? Not really fall, not quite winter. Much to my dismay, we ran the heat for a few hours on Sunday morning. I was hoping to make it to November without turning on the heat, but there we were, hovering just above 60 degrees in the apartment on October 11th. Ugh. Not only does running the heat use energy, in our apartment, it dramatically lowers the air quality.

Growing up, I always recognized the first heat of the late fall by that smell that gas furnaces make when running for the first time in several months. The key phrase in the previous sentence is, “for the first time.” See, after the first few cycles, the furnace burned up the dust or whatever was in there, and then, for the rest of the heating season, there was no scent.

However, in our apartment, that is not the case. Despite numerous furnace filter changes, we smelled that special furnace smell EVERY TIME the heat kicked on last winter. All winter long. Our landlord investigated and determined that there was nothing wrong with the furnace or the air ducts. Riiiiiiight. If we can smell something burning, our lungs are being exposed to less than stellar air.

So, with that in mind, here are some ways to run your heat less this winter. The planet and your wallet will thank you!

  • Set your thermostat lower: 68 degrees is a good upper limit.  At night, when you’re all snug in your bed, turn it down to the low 60s.  When you leave for the day, turn it down to 55 degrees.
  • Get cozy at night with flannel sheets and a good comforter or lots of blankets.  Our combination of flannel sheets plus a faux down comforter kept me overly warm the past two nights.
  • Wear slippers.  And a nice, snugly sweatshirt.  And pants.  Sadly enough, sans pants does not work for winter.
  • Check for any leaky spots around windows and doors.  Use weather stripping, caulk, etc. to fill in the gaps.
  • If you own your place, or can talk your landlord in to it, insulate, insulate, insulate.  There are many rebates available for this right now.
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