Heat Budget Guide
Credit: i kwan a.k.a dr.mafisto

Keeping warm in the winter months is generally a challenge on a heating budget, but it's especially difficult during memorably harsh winter seasons that almost seem to be neverending. Taking precautions to keep the use of your main heating elements to a minimum is the logical way to go, but there are some “keepers” (beyond sealing your windows in plastic) that can help you to save money without spending your winter evenings shivering beneath a pile of icy blankets.


Space Heaters

You wouldn't want to run them all night, but a lot of space heaters come with thermostats that shut off automatically when they reach a certain temperature. Running them only in one room when it starts to get nippy can save a great deal of money in nighttime heating. Keep your main heating element set to a very low temperature, even 50 degrees, while you sleep, and have your space heater keep the room at 68 or 70 degrees with your door closed. Bathroom visits might be chilly ones, but it's worth the sacrifice when your aim is to keep your bills down. Your heating budget will thank you.


Electric Blankets

It's amazing how many people forget to utilize these. Sleeping with an electric blanket can totally eradicate the need to run a space heater at all during the evening. Electric blankets do an excellent job keeping the sleeping area toasty, and quite a few models come with “auto-shutoff” options. You can even splurge on a double-sided model with dual thermostats and regulate your side of the covers as you see fit while your partner does the same for the part of the blanket under their dominion. It's the epitoms of affordable heating. Even sweeter, running one of these babies for ten hours is only likely to claim .15 to .30 from your daily heat ing budget (assuming your model, like most, consumes 200 watts or less). If you're running a modest solar generator, there's a strong likelihood it can power your blanket by itself for a decent amount of time before the battery needs more sunbeams – essentially costing you nothing at all (after your 300.00 solar investment).


DIY Madness

A bit of creativity goes a very long way when you need to tend an extremely tight budget that calls for the most affordable heating possible. Beyond turning the heat off completely while you're away from home and keeping your thermostat set as low as 50 degrees when you sleep, you can incorporate any of the following to prevent hypothermia (kidding):


  • Load up on slankets (blankets with sleeves).

  • Boil water, pour it into old water bottles, and place them around the bedding areas to raise the temperature (it's been done to good effect).

  • Put bread warming bricks in the oven, retrieve them when warm then bundle them in a sheet or thin blanket and set them around the bed to raise the temperature of the sleeping area.

  • If you need to, repeat steps 2 and 3 when the heat diminishes.

  • Engage the obvious and wear plenty of socks, thermal shirts and underwear.


A heating budget is an important seasonal factor that today's working families can't afford to ignore. With a few simple adjustments, the process can be mostly painless. Keep your head up, invest in a few extras, and you won't groan so deeply (or at all) when the utility bill arrives.