Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

Energy saving ideas

I’ve never been a person that uses energy without thinking of the eventual cost.  My mind remembers that everytime I turn on something electric the little black stripe is revolving faster around the ring inside the electric meter.  When I decided to retire from full time machine quilting I knew my budget would take a hard blow.  My utility bill was only one of many things I considered before my retirement.  Retiring when the economy is going down hill fast was a scary move.  Yet, I knew I had to do it anyway.

We all know how the utility costs keep going up and up.  Every time we turn around it’s on the news that the costs are going higher along with just about everything else.

I keep thinking about my Grandma Mama’s house in the back woods of Kentucky.  The place where I spent most of my childhood.  We had only a pot belly stove in the center of the house and a small wood cook stove in the kitchen.  We didn’t have real walls in the house.  The walls were made of cardboard and paper over the studs and no insulation.  Yet, I don’t remember ever being really cold even in the coldest part of winter.  Well, darn it, if we could live without a forced air furnace back then… why can’t I be just as resourceful to use less energy now?

No, I can’t go buy a pot belly stove to put in my house.  There’s absolutely no place to put one even if I was tempted to do that.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  I have two bedrooms that I really don’t use at all.  Those bedrooms are where I keep all my hoarded stuff.  I’m not in the bedroom that I do use  except at night. I’m in the kitchen only when it’s time to cook or eat.  I’m in the studio most of the day but not at night.  So I ask myself….. Why am I heating all these rooms, all the time, when I’m only in them a short time each day?

I’m remembering and starting to do the things my Grandma Mama would do to keep us all warm even in the coldest of winters without the aid of a forced air furnace. Here’s what I’m thinking about using my furnace this winter.

My furnace uses both gas and electric.  Gas to produce the heat.  Electric to run the fan to blow the heat throughout the house.  It’s really not a good thing to block off the vents in rooms not being used.   It supposedly damages the furnace.  I certainly don’t want to damage mine.  It took me seven years to save enough money to buy it.  I don’t want to do that again.  Even if this isn’t true, the heated air would simply sit in the duct work if it can’t get into a room because the vent is shut off.

I kept thinking….. what if I heated only the room I’m actually using instead of the whole house?  Not by closing off vents but by keeping the thermostat very low and using small space heaters to heat only the room I’m actually in.  The small space heaters use only electricity and not both.  A small space heater in the room I’m actually in would be similar to the pot belly stove of Grandma Mama’s house.

This idea is the reason why I created the inside door snakes.  Air is constantly moving.  In order to close off a room and keep the heat generated in one room from drifting into an unused room the door snakes block the air flow.

Inside door snakes

Here’s the small heater I’m using in my studio.  It’s at the top of the shelf unit for now.

Small electric heater

Here’s the one I’m using in my bedroom.

Another small electric heater

I don’t know if these are energy efficient or not because I haven’t looked.  These will work temporarily until I can look into the cost of some that don’t use an exorbitant amount of electricity.   These small heaters do have a tip over feature that cuts them off if accidently turned over or tilted.   I have them placed where there’s no danger of anything accidently falling on them to cause a fire and little hands can’t get burned by touching them.

I plan to keep my furnace turned down low enough that I’m mainly using only the small heaters but high enough that it will click on before the water pipes freeze.  Anytime I’ll be gone from home the small heaters will be turned off and the furnace raised a degree or two for the fur kid.  I don’t want him to freeze while I’m away.

What do you think?  Is this a good idea?

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6 comments on “Energy saving ideas

  1. Dora, the quilter
    October 7, 2011

    When I moved into a lovely home I discovered with the arrival of winter that the furnace would not stay on long enough to heat anything. Due to horrifying medical expenses, there was no money to repair the furnace, so we used the fireplace and electric heaters until I could save enough money to repair the furnace (the previous owners had reversed the wiring before /when they moved out, and discovering exactly what the problem was and fixing it cost hundreds of dollars). Although the heaters I’d used were modern and safe, the furnace (natural gas) costs a fraction of what using the heaters cost (even excluding the cost of firewood). I really don’t know of a way to test it other than trying it, but for me, the little heaters were a lot more expensive.

    • Na Na
      October 7, 2011

      Yes Dora, I’m not sure it will actually be cost effective either. I’m testing my theory of heating only one room at a time instead of a whole house all of the time. The idea I have is that the small heater used in only one room at a time will use less than the hugh furnace for a whole house. I’m curious, did you have all of your heaters on all the time or just in one room at a time?

  2. lw
    October 6, 2011

    The main reason to keep a house heated besides the comfort of the folks living there is to keep the perishable stuff (cloth, paper, wood, etc) dry so it doesn’t mold or rot. If the winter is cold enough, there shouldn’t be much in the way of moisture, but when spring comes, I’d think about airing it all out and heating it again.

    • Na Na
      October 7, 2011

      You have a great point there. I hadn’t thought about that. Hmm…. Maybe that’s why Grandma Mama always aired out her house in the spring and put me to work cleaning everything. I thought she was just being a fussy house cleaner.

  3. kathi
    October 5, 2011

    Electric space heaters TERRIFY me. EVEN WITH the “up high” and “tip over” features. SO MANY “what if’s”.. and i really don’t think they are “energy efficient”.. i think you would end up spending MORE on electric than you would be saving on gas and electric. Just my opinion. I do have a small electric space heater in the studio.. i RARELY turn it on. David will. i then shut it OFF as soon as he leaves the room. Keep working on window quilts for all the windows. yes, the door snakes are an excellent idea. Wear a lot of sweaters and/or sweatshirts in the winter. . keep the thermostat lower. We shoot for 67 but others go lower than that I am sure. Use a LOT of quilts on the bed. I am TERRIFIED of FIRE. And i just do NOT TRUST those space heaters. ANY variety.

    • Na Na
      October 7, 2011

      Kathi, do you use a crock pot? These heaters work the same way. The heating coils are enclosed and a fan blows air over them. Not at all like the old kind with exposed wires. These heaters do not get any hotter than a crock pot yet they warm a small room. I would not want anything on top of my crock pot that could catch fire either. I’m terrified of fire too. Hmm…. I think these heaters work the same way those fake fireplaces do that are showing up in hardware stores these days.

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