Home Heating: Put Your Hands Up and Step Away from the Thermostat

waiting to turn on the heat

Photo by redwoodlaurie

I delay turning on the heat for the season for as long as possible. If you pay for oil or gas, you know what I mean. The longer we wait to turn on the heat, the longer it stays off and the more money we save.

My husband does not like that I am in charge of the thermostat. We live in the Northeast, and past September, the weather turns. Hardwood floors are extra hard on sub-40 mornings. And climbing out of a toasty shower into what feels like arctic temperatures can be ... difficult. He says he works hard, and what's it all for if he has to walk around the house with chattering teeth, blar de blar blar.

But heat is like potato chips, peanuts, and foot massages. You can't stiff the other foot. You cannot stop at just one. Once the heat is on, it's ON. All the time. And draining my wallet.


Last year I didn't fire up the furnace till November. I was so proud. That was on the heels of the big summer gas crisis of $4 per gallon (remember that?), when crude oil prices went through the roof and everyone was predicting a similarly dismal winter.

Then, for the first time ever in our entire homeowner lives, procrastination actually worked in our favor. We missed the deadline to "lock in" a price on our oil contract. We predicted doom, but then ... oil prices went down. Our big screw-up turned out to be ... right! All those poor conscientious people who actually pay bills and sign contracts on time got stuck paying close to $4 a gallon for heating oil, while we skated by with about $2 a gallon for most of the winter.

Luckily, no major oil increases are expected again this winter, so I may just have to procrastinate on that lock-in agreement again. (But don't rely on me -- do your own research!)

Whatever I do, I fully intend to keep playing my little heat deprivation game. Children today are too thin-skinned anyway. Walking around the house with their sleeping bags and earmuffs will help them relate to what the pioneers endured, build some character. Yeah, that's right.

I'll teach my kids my own mental strategies for turning cold into a positive: When the bathroom is freezing after a shower, think: "How invigorating!" or "This is a good time to do some exercises." When your breath starts forming clouds, think: "Cool game ... let's pretend we're fire breathing dragons!" When your fingers freeze solid and strt typeing wrdss lk this onn the keeybapard ...  well, I guess that's when I'll turn on the heat.

Do you try to delay turning on the heat for the season as long as possible? What is your final breaking point ... the time at which you finally flick the switch and blast the furnace?

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