Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside!

Brrrrrrr. Here in Western Pennsylvania, it is downright chilly!! As I hear the furnace kick on, all I can think of is the astronomical heating bill that will be heading my way come January! Ouch.

While looking up ideas to cut back the heating bill, I came across the idea of zone heating. Zone heating involves turning the thermostat back to 55 degrees (double brrrr!) and using space heaters in the rooms you spend your time in. According to 10-Minute Energy-Saving Secrets by Jerri Farris, "Zone heating works best in homes where only one or two people are living. If there are more people in the house, you could be heating so many rooms at once that you'd be better off using the main system."

Well, Bill and I add up to two people living in this big ol' house. During the day, I spend my time almost exclusively in my second floor office. So I'm thinking it might be wise to use supplemental heat in here while it is just me at home. If I switch the direction of the ceiling fan blades so they turn clockwise, then I can redirect the hot air (that naturally rises) back down toward the floor, keeping my tootsies toasty. This just might be the answer to lowering my heating bills in a somewhat eco-friendly way.

Of course, the issue now becomes what type of space heater will I use. According to Farris, the most efficient type of supplemental heat would be a radiant heater with a thermostat that will power the unit down when the desired temperature is met. I wonder if it would take into account my occasional hot flashes? That would be dandy!

So here's my advice: turn down the heat a bit and plug in a space heater when needed. However, my advice comes with a warning. Please, please, please protect your little ones! If the heater gets hot on the surface, keep it safely away from your toddlers! But make sure you do not place it too close to drapes, furniture, papers, etc. Look for heaters that automatically shut down when tipped. Safety has to be the primary issue here!! And, for goodness sake, stay away from kerosene heaters (quite popular back in the 70s and 80s) and old electric heaters that use more energy than they're worth.

One final bit of advice here -- when you're not using the heater, unplug it!!!! As a matter of fact, you should unplug anything that heats up when not in use. This includes coffee makers, toasters, curling irons, hair dryers, etc. They are fire hazards when plugged in and unattended. And let me tell you, nothing feels colder than standing outside in the snow watching your house burn down.

Wishing your warmth while keeping it safe and green,



  1. Green Grandma, we did this last year & unfortunately were left with a $500+ electric bill after 2 mths of doing this. Please be aware that an electric heater on average costs $1/hr to run with the electric rates. We even bought the Eden Pure heaters that were supposed to only cost pennies to run.....which was a lie. Between the cost of gas or heating oil or electric, it's like being stuck between a rock & a hard place. Hope it works out for you & keep warm in this frigid cold.

  2. Whoa! I guess it could depend on how large a space you're heating and for how long. I'll watch the bills and see. It just seems foolish to heat a four-bedroom house when I'm basically only in one room all day.

  3. We do this wit our church office. I have a floor heater in my office and there is a main heater/AC in the upstairs office but our secretary uses a space heater to supplement the needed heat. The rest of the church is left relatively cold.

  4. we have a newish portable oil filled radiator. stands about 2 1/2 ft tall 2 ft long, gets nice and hot but less chance of fire since the element is internal. seems to be good on energy too, but it's hard to tell for sure, but ive never seen a jump in my bill.


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