Sunday, January 10, 2010

Socks and Fuzzy Slippers

How low do you keep your thermostat in the winter?

Growing up, I was accustomed to my parents' standard setting of 68°, a commonly acknowledged threshold between comfort and energy conservation. Now married, I face winters of perpetually icy hands as the standard was knocked down a couple of notches to 66° (this is Len's threshold of comfort and part of a compromise that means I freeze in the winter and he sweats in the summer).

Yes, the house is cold. I sure can feel the change made by those two degrees, but I can take it because they make an even bigger change in our utilities usage. And don't we all like tangible results, like smaller gas bills? I make up the difference in my comfort level by walking around the house wearing socks and fuzzy slippers. It works. Thick, fuzzy socks by themselves do not cure my toe-cicles; it's the layering of regular socks with thick, warm slippers that does the trick. When your feet are warm, your whole body feels warmer. (It works the same in reverse, too: If you're hot in the summer, take those socks and shoes off! You'll instantly feel a littler cooler.) Take it from somebody who hates dressing in layers, the sock/slipper combo is very comfortable—not at all restricting like wearing three turtlenecks.

Of course, my hands are still cold but I find that keeping busy, like moving around a lot, cleaning the house, helps get the blood flowing to the extremities. Wearing—or burrowing under—fleece is also quite effective. And burrow we do, for at night, our programmable thermostat bumps the heat down a few degrees more. We don't notice that temperature change because we're snug in bed, but we do notice the big chunk it takes out of our gas bill, yet again. The heat is programmed to go back up to 66° shortly before we have to wake up. It goes back down again while we're gone for the day. That's when the cat burrows.

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