We are starting slowly at this. Right now, our main actions have been:
- lower the thermostat in our house to 60*F
- learn how to dress in fricking layers in our house (it's really not that hard)
- don't turn on the A/C during the summer
- perform the summertime "dance of the windows"--more on this when summertime rolls around
It does take adjustment, though. If you're used to 70*F, you cannot just drop the temp by
10 degrees and expect to be hunky-dory about it. The best thing we did, in fact, was not turn the heat up in the first place. So far this winter, I've not set the temperature over 62*F, and that was something of a concession to my Gigi for her visit over Christmas. I've found that if I push the temperature below 58*F, my nose gets cold inside, and for some reason this bugs me more than I can say, so I'm compromising with 60*F (until I figure out how to knit a nosewarmer--or make one of these! [youtube video] Oh, I love Beaker and Bunsen!).
The main way we deal with colder indoor temperatures is, as I said above, to dress in layers. All of us wear at least a t-shirt and overshirt during the day. My husband and I both have thermals under our pants. I try to get the kids to wear pajama pants under their regular pants (although since my older son is at school during the day, he'd get too hot that way and I try get him to add clothes when he gets home). I am also continually amazed by how my children just don't seem to notice the cold. Yes, I do try and keep them covered, but I'm always looking over and seeing that they've taken their socks off, or their overshirt, or who knows what. So keeping their clothes on at an appropriate level is a bit of a struggle, but one I won't concede.
We also sleep mostly together, and often with hot water bottles. The boys have opted to sleep in the same bed, and we're fine with that, and my husband and I sleep together. Now, I should say a few words about hot water bottles. Those words are "GET" "ONE" and "NOW". My favorite luxury, by a long shot, is to sit on the couch with a hot water bottle under my feet, and maybe even (bliss!) one on my lap, with a book or knitting, and a cup of hot tea. This is the sort of luxury one cannot experience in a 72*F house--it's just not possible. We've got four water bottles--two for our bed and two for the boy's beds. I bought some cheap fleece and sewed some bottle covers for them, just to make them a bit more pleasant to have against the skin. Everyone loves them. I will probably buy a few more this year, and maybe even knit some cutesy covers (although fleece has much to recommend it, not the least of which wicking away the odd stray droplets of water that the outside of the bottle might have on it). And remarkably, even after a full night in bed with us, I've found the water bottles to still be warm when we get up--not hot, like they were the previous night, but still warmer than body temperature. And naturally, we have piles of quilts & blankets on our beds, too, which we can layer as we will.
What about when we're up and around? Well, honestly, if I'm up and doing, I don't notice the temperature at all (except for that whole 58*F cold-nose thing). We still dress in layers, but activity warms the body very nicely. I've also completed my first set of fingerless gloves, which I've been wearing around to keep my hands warm while also being able to do work (like right now).
But if we can hack 60*F with relatively little adjustment in our lifestyle, how much further could we push it? Now I start laying in plans. Here are some of the things I'm planning/hoping to do either this winter or next to go even lower:
- Sew blanket barriers to section off our house--and heat the part of the house that we're actually in.
- Try out a space heater or two rather than using central heating. Now, I'll admit I'm a bit lukewarm on this idea, because I've been given to understand that space heaters are spectacularly inefficient. But even an inefficient space heater might be better overall than very efficient whole-house heating, so I'll give it a shot.
- Make a kotatsu. I got some great inspiration on this topic today from Colin Beavan over at the No Impact Man blog, including making a japanese kotatsu: http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/2009/01/how-to-cut-out.html I'd never heard of a kotatsu, and in some ways it's just another version of a space heater, but options are always good.