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!