This January, our total utility bill should be about $35. That's the difference going tiny can make.
What keeps us warm here on the mountain as the temps drop?
A woodstove. When we told one friend we paid more than $4K for our woodstove, he told us that was more than he paid for his car. Do you have to pay that much for a woodstove? No. Are sorry we did? Also, no. Ours is a Kimberly woodstove from Unforgettable Fire. It's pretty (that matters!), it's efficient, and it's easy to use and clean. An added bonus: we can cook on top of it. We supplement wood found on our property with kiln-dried logs we cut down to size. (That adds another $10 to our monthly "energy" bill.)
Radiant space heater. The Kimberly keeps things as toasty as we could want. But. We can't keep a wood stove burning when we're not here (nor would we want to!). We keep a DeLonghi oil-filled radiator (aka space heater) running at around 60 degrees when we're not here. A little higher when we're just stepping out (64 degrees) and higher still when we're here (as high as 70). When the Kimberly's running, the space heater doesn't kick on. This has been a cold month; monitoring the heater reveals it's costing us close to $30 a month.
Convection heater. We just ordered the Envi panel heater, which is designed to be an efficient room heater for up to 130 square feet. We're hoping it's going to replace the radiant space heater and use less electricity. We'll mount it in the bathroom—the opposite side of the house from the woodstove.
Sunlight. On the south side of our house, 8 windows and a sliding glass door allow winter's low midday sun to warm the house, while roof overhangs block much of the sun when it's higher in the sky in summer. (Our Jeld-Wen windows and door are double-paned with gas between the panes to improve thermal performance.)
Rugs and slippers. We put a couple layers of rigid foam insulation between the floor joists. Still, the floor is by far the coldest zone of the house. Rugs on the floor make a big diffence. So, do slippers. We can also use the ceiling fans to circulate warm air down.
Wool blankets. We keep a thick Pendleton blanket on the sofa, where we usually sit. Putting the blanket across our laps means we don't need to heat up the entire house when we want a little more warmth. Another wool blanket and a down comforter let us keep the heat lower at night, too.
Hot water. A hot shower is just the right ticket on a cold damp day, but we don't keep our hot water heater on all the time. It just takes 30 minutes to warm the water, so we flick on the heater a half hour before we shower. Even then, we don't heat more water than we need. Our 12-gallon Whirlpool tank provides a six-minute, hot, full-pressure shower. We've found that's enough time for a satisfying shower. We keep a smaller heater (2.5 gallon Bosch) on all the time under the sink, so there's always hot water for washing.
There's always more we could do; I'll save that for another post. Please click on the pictures below for additional details.