In a classic analogy, if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll immediately jump right out. If you drop the frog into comfortable water and gradually heat it to boiling, the frog will be boiled.
Side Note #1: My husband thinks the frog in the pot scenario is a bunch of baloney, but we’re too nice to test it out.
Whether or not the frog story is accurate, most of us would agree that gradual, subtle changes are more easily accepted than sudden, drastic changes.
I want to use the principle of the frog analogy (in the reverse) to explain how we save on heating costs.
When people hear how low we keep our thermostat during the winter they think we’re nuts! They can’t imagine changing their homes from 78 to 58 degrees in January.
Neither can I! Like a frog placed in boiling water, I would hop right out!
Our secret to saving on heating bills is that we wait as long as possible to turn our heater on. Like the frog who gradually gets used to increased temperatures, our bodies gradually acclimate to a lower temperature.
In addition to normal acclimation, we dress appropriately to increase our temperature stamina. We wear sweaters and slippers around the house. In the evenings I blog with my hoodie on. For Christmas, I made the kids warm fleece robes and bought them quality hard-soled slippers.
Side Note #2: Just so you know, our kids aren’t suffering. They handle the cold (and heat) far better than grown-ups (especially me). They run around our cold cement floors with bare feet and it doesn’t even faze them. I have to constantly remind them to wear their slippers or put on a sweater because they say they aren’t even cold.
We love challenges and competitions, so seeing how long we can go before turning on the heat is actually fun for us. (Maybe we are crazy.) When we do turn on the heat, we don’t crank it up to 78. We just turn it up a wee bit from the temperature that we decided was just too low. If the temperature starts to dip to that point, the heater kicks in and we’re fine.
Side Note #3: I know there is an observant reader who is thinking, “Wait! I thought that you didn’t pay any utility bills with your sweet hook-up living in your in-laws’ unfinished basement?” (I’m really impressed if anyone wondered that.) It’s true. We figure that my husband’s parents are saving us loads by letting us live here for free, so we are happy to do what we can to help keep their bills down. Besides, we also challenged ourselves like this during our law school years when we did pay for heat.
There are lots of ways to save on heating costs, from putting plastic on your windows and a rolled towel to stop drafts under the front door, to blowing new insulation into your attic. No matter what efficiency strategies you employ, waiting as long as possible to turn on the heat and keeping the thermostat low when you do will only increase your savings. Each day you wait to turn on the heat will save you money and provide a fun challenge as well.
How about you?
- How long do you wait before turning on the heat when the weather cools off?
- Do you dress warmly at home in order to keep the thermostat set low?
- Do you think the frog would really get boiled?