I’m welcoming Libby to the blog today to share her secret to saving! Her post earned third place in the My Secret to Saving contest that I recently hosted!
Living in New England, where it is not uncommon to have nights at -11 F in January and February and where snow comes as early as Halloween and can last through Easter, heating costs are a MAJOR expense.
Then add in the old-house factor… in my town people are living in houses built as early as the late 1700’s. My “new” house was built in 1952 and the walls have minimal insulation.
During these frigid New England winters, the thermostat limbo dance comes into play – how low can you turn the heat down and still be comfortable?
We have a programmable thermostat and I thank the person who created this brilliant and practical item. Our heat goes down to 58 degrees at night and comes up to 68 degrees 30 minutes before our alarms go off in the morning.
So…how come we aren’t popsicles during the night? How are we comfortable with the house down to 58 degrees at night?
The secret is air pockets!
Trapping air that is warm creates insulation – specifically on our beds.
The first layer is a set of flannel sheets. They are WARM to the touch when we get into bed.
As a side note, after I graduated from college and had my first apartment – where I was paying the heating bill for the first time in my life – I had regular cotton sheets. They were icy cold to the touch, which was lovely in the summer but painful in the cold weather months. When I went to bed in the winter I used to lie on my back and “make snow angels” under the covers trying to warm my sheets up as quickly as possible!
What a HUGE difference it made to upgrade to flannel sheets.
Now good quality flannel sheets aren’t cheap. Portugal produces the best quality flannel in the world and this is the material that L. L. Bean, Lands End, The Company Store, etc use for their sheets.
When I buy flannel sheets, I try to find them on clearance during the summer. They still end up costing about $180 per queen-bed-sized sets. The sets I’m using now are 8 and 10 years old and are still going strong. So they last.
Flannel sheets are on our beds starting in mid-September through the end of May/early June. So the cost per night is pretty low.
For the math lovers: 8.5 months x 30 days = 255 nights x 10 years 2,550 nights. $180/2,550 = 7 cents per night. It will go even lower because the sheets haven’t worn through yet.
But I digress – let’s get back to learning how to create layers and trap warm air. The second layer – and this is super important – is a cotton blanket with a loose weave. This creates air pockets.
The cotton blanket is then covered by another blanket. I use a wool blanket on my bed but my son prefers fleece. Wool is heavier than fleece and I like the weight. Either way, this next layer is trapping the warm air in the pockets created by the cotton blanket.
The final layer is a down comforter, which has lots of air pockets created by the feathers.
Using this sandwich layering technique to create air pockets, we stay toasty warm all night long. The only hard part is if I need to get up in the middle of the night to pee!
I do want to note that when my son was very little and tossed off his covers during the night, I kept the temperature at 62 degrees during the nocturnal hours.
So what does this save me?
My house is heated only with an oil furnace. Heating oil varies but the past last winter it was $2.599 a gallon. We used 171.3 gallons total for the entire winter!
The other houses on my street are about the same size and my neighbors use double and triple the amount of heating oil.
Creating our air-pocket beds helps us to save $445 – 897 each winter… more when the cost of heating fuel goes up.
How about you?
- What’s on your bed?
- What do you keep your thermostat set at in the winter?
Libby was a single parent for 13 years, learned to squeeze a penny until Abe cried out, and has deep roots in beloved, gorgeous, frigid New England. If she wins Stephanie’s contest she is buying an ice cream maker, because she can’t get enough of the cold?! Well, rumor has it that New Englanders eat more ice cream per population than any other region of the country… go figure!
Burt Silver says
These are some great money saving tips for your heating bill. I’ve been considering this as an option because our heating unit actually broke down last winter. Maybe I’ll have to get it repaired in case it gets too cold because we might live in an area where heating is required because it might get too cold without at least a little bit of a heater.
Kurt Wetzel says
The easiest way to lower your gas/heat bill is to lower the temperature. Lower it enough where you must either wear a long sleeve shirt, sweater, or sweatshirt to be comfortable. Without wearing one you get cold. If you get cold wearing a sweatshirt then turn the heat up a little. Wear socks and slippers too. Almost everyone has these kinds of clothes so wear them.
Its easy to turn the heat up when you get cold but that will coast you money wise. Follow my tip above.
I am trying the sweatshirt method out for a month. Lets see how much lower my gas bill will be.
OMG I’m in CANADA and it get to -30 plus Celsius so -22 Fahrenheit for you Americans. I will be trying layering our beds lol.
Julie- Logger's Wife says
We live in Maine so totally get this! We hit -30 a number of times last winter. We hit with wood that we get for free so the only real heating cost for us is the electric to run the blowers on our wood furnace. So we keep it toasty all winter. Growing up heating with oil, we did do what you are suggesting and it worked so well!
Costco often has flannel sheets for great prices too! Thanks for the tips 🙂
Greetings from rural, mountainous NH, fellow winter sufferer! We have a woodstove in the basement of our 1400 sq foot ranch that we run in the winter. We leave the basement door open, and the warm air wafting up keeps the main living area (kitchen, dining, family room) around 70 degrees except for the coldest of spells when it might get down to 64. The 3 or 4 cords of wood we go through each season are far cheaper than the amount of oil we would burn through to keep it that cozy. Our bedrooms are set to 62 or 63 in the winter, which can be a bit chilly, but proper blankets make all the difference! I adore flannel sheets as well, and while I must confess I have probably never spent more than $30 for a set on sale from one of the Big Box stores, they have always done the job and lasted for years. A down comforter is a MUST in colder climates, really makes a difference. I have found that the same ‘air pocket’ principle that works on the bed also works on those cold winter footies! Throw some socks on before you stuff those tootsies into those slippers (even the taller, furry kind) and you will fell much toastier over all in no time flat. Somehow combining the two works wonders over just one or the other.
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
These are such great tips. Thank you so much for sharing!
We set the temp at our house at 68 degrees in the winter and 76 in the summer. We also wear sweaters and even jackets in the winter so that we don’t have to turn up the heater. It helps lower our utility bill!
Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom says
Oh my gooooooosh!!!! Did you say negative 11?!?! I would die. Like, literally. Die. This Cali girl moved to Virginia and I whine when it get downs to the 40s. But I can attest to flannel sheets. So comfy and warm!
I love this! I love having lots of layers on. We live in the south now, so winters aren’t rigid, but living in the northeast is a dream of mine! I’ll be remembering this tip!
Thank you again Stephanie for this opportunity! And I ordered an ice cream maker last night from Amazon 🙂
Can’t wait to experiment!
I will be trying out th total layer things this season. I would like to dd that we added an old top quilt to the bed before adding th flannel sheets. It was extra cushy, delightfully warm and allowed us to eliminate one of the top blankets…..a win, win for us ..and th 3 cats who found th new softness to be a great place to curl up for th nite, adding even more warmth….lol..
The quilt underneath the sheets sounds heavenly!
Money Beagle says
I still like the crispness of a cottons sheet, even in the winter. I tried flannel for a while but it wasn’t my thing.
can we have a link to her blog?
Hi Shannon! Libby isn’t a blogger (at least not yet!). The “My Secret to Saving” contest was open to all of my readers regarless of whether they have a blog or not. 🙂