Saturday, January 10, 2009

Um, George, do we have a plan for getting out of this?

"Sure we got a plan, boys. *giggle* They ain't never seen ord'nance like this before!"

Sorry, I've been lapsing into and out of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? for days now. This is the line that went ringing through my head, though, as I read over our gas bill for December. Despite my previous post, and our varied efforts to reduce our heating energy consumption, our bill was over $200 (ouch). So now the stakes have been raised. And no, I'm not currently planning on blowing anything up (despite my mention of "ord'nance" above).

Why is our bill so high? As far as I can see, there are two basic reasons. The first is that we have 10' high ceilings. Now, these ceilings save our butts in the summer--we didn't turn on our A/C at all last year (well, we did once, but that's a long story best saved for later). But our salvation in the summer is our damnation in the winter--all our heat rises above our heads. The second reason for the high bills is that it's fricking cold outside.

So now I will embark upon Stage One Preparations, as per the schematic below:

Okay, you may need to click on it to see it better--sorry. The relevant changes are in red. First, notice the barriers between the left (East) side of our house and the right (West) side of our house. We spend almost all of our time on the West side of the house, so why not make it official? I will be constructing some kind of blanket or multi-layered-sheet barrier to put up in these two locations to keep the heat in the West side of our house. I'd like whatever we use to be multi-layered, but I'm not wanting to break the bank here, either, and the one to go between the family room and living room will need to be king sized, I think. One option I've been kicking around is picking up some used king-sized sheets from Goodwill and sewing them together with some cheap batting in between them--sort of a poor woman's quilt, as it were. We'll see what I can scare up.

Moving right along, we have the Kotatsu! This will be in the living room. It will be for the express purpose of our weekly roleplaying game, which is held in that room, and for the somewhat regular "no, I really need to be in a different room from y'all now" moments. The coffee table that is currently there is a glass-topped model, so I will be putting an electric blanket on the table and then topping it with the glass. The gamers, who pretty much sit right around the table, can stay toasty-warm!

Third, I will be installing a kitty door in the door between our sunroom and our kitchen. Why? Because despite what the room is called, there is no significant sense in which the sunroom is, in fact, a sunroom. It might be more aptly described as a "cold room" or maybe an "ice box". At any rate, it's fricken' freezing in there, but it's also where Calvin the Cat's food, water, and litter are (and it's where they'll stay). Being able to keep this room even nominally closed off from the rest of the house will do wonders for our heating bill, and it will have the added bonus that installing the kitty door means I'll finally have to learn to use my jigsaw.

So there you have it. Please note that these are our Stage One operations. We don't actually have a Stage Two yet, but it will probably involve a space heater or two (and thanks to Anne for posting that website about kerosene heaters! Okay, yeah, the guy who wrote it is a bit of a zombies-are-coming nutjob, but the advice on heaters seems sound.) And, as usual, suggestions are welcome.

(BTW, we did have an energy audit done last year, and he found the house to be quite tight, and very well insulated, so working on those points will probably be shelved for later.)

1 comment:

  1. The Sheet/Batting thing will work very well with space heaters. In our apartment, we have several old comforters hanging (one from an old boyfriend that I couldn't throw away because he has TONS of life left in it, but wasn't appropriate to have it ON THE BED anymore) and they keep the place toasty. On the other opening, we have an adjustable shower curtain rod (that we needed for last apartment, but not this one) and we hung drapes from it (that again, no need for in this apartment) and that works as well.
    Didn't think about an electric blanket for the kotatsu...good thinking!