Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2011

So this year we joined in the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge over at The Crunchy Chicken. The challenge is to lower your thermostat to save money and energy. It turned out to be an unusual sort of challenge since the winter was so mild this year (famous last words).

When you’re lowering your thermostat there is a fine line between saving money and comfort. Everyone’s threshold is different. For us, 55 degrees overnight made sense down from 62, and we attempted 65 degrees during the day down from 68. Admittedly, the 65 degrees ended up being too low, and we inevitably bumped it up to 70. (We’re weaklings I know.) Most people feel comfortable at 68 degrees.

A good rule of thumb is to lower your thermostat one degree for every hour you’re going to be away from the house. So for many of us, that means 8 degrees while we’re away at work during the day. If your house is well-insulated it is unlikely that it will actually drop the 8 degrees during that time, but your heat certainly won’t kick on. Automatic or digital thermostats are also a God send. For a mere $30 investment your heating and cooling costs will be significantly lowered. If you don’t have one of these – go get one – now.

Things I’ve learned when lowering the thermostat:

1. Blankets are a girls best friend.

2. Socks and slippers make a big difference.

3. Pets are great snugglers because their core body temperature are higher than humans.

We have radiant floor heat powered by a gas boiler. Radiant heat is probably the most efficient heating available. This type of heat uses a fluid, in our case water. The fluid is heated, and then circulated through a piping system in the floor.  It kicks off when the desired room temperature is reached. However, the water doesn’t cool immediately, it takes time. In the meantime you are reaping all the residual heat from the pipes keeping you nice and warm.

So let’s look at the numbers and see what difference this challenge, if any, it made.

November 2011 – 92 ccf; Ave. temp.: 46 degrees

November 2012 – 85 ccf; Ave. temp.: 48 degrees

3 CCF savings incorporating weather

December 2011 – 210 ccf; Ave. temp.: 34 degrees

December 2012 – 116 ccf; Ave. temp.: 43 degrees

63 CCF savings incorporating weather

January 2011 – 249 ccf; Ave. temp.: 28 degrees

January 2012 – 202 ccf; Ave. temp.: 32 degrees

18 CCF savings incorporating weather

Total savings: 84 CCF or roughly $60 at the current rate.

Not too shabby. That’s a decent dinner out. We still have two more months left in the challenge, but since it’s been so mild I don’t expect the heat to need to kick on as much, and thus the savings may not be as dramatic.

Some people go pretty hard core with these challenges and opt to heat themselves rather than the space. They use things like small space heaters while at desks, which are quite inefficient, but still cheaper than heating a large room. Some even redirect computer heat.

Others fire up a heated blanket or mattress pad. I must admit, a heated mattress pad might be a luxury item worth investing in. A nice toasty bed? Yes please.

Habits can also keep you warm – like getting up and moving around every once in a while, or cooking on the stove or baking in the oven more often which will throw heat and warm the house.

What types of tips do you have to stay warm at home? Would you take on a challenge like this?

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  • Sebastian

    It hardly is cold enough here to do this challenge, but I guess keeping the heater off counts!
    Just found your blog and am enjoying reading back.
    Feel free to stop by mine: