Journalism: Urbanism: How to Heat Your House on Oatmeal for $100 (Not Including the Oatmeal)

November 11, 2013

How to Heat Your House on Oatmeal for $100 (Not Including the Oatmeal)

By Zack Barowitz

Here is a partial list of what I have done or plan to do in order to stay warm and “save” money this winter:
– New boiler: $11,000
– Wood stove and chimney work: $1,200
– Attic insulation: $4,600
– Energy audit: $400
– Pipe insulation $150 (after paying to have the asbestos pipe insulation removed)
– Etc.

I could have done nothing and stayed perfectly warm for a single hundred dollar investment in a pair of insulated bib overalls. Insulated bibs are worn by skiers, snow-mobilers, and carpenters when they are work outside in the cold months, they trap air, block wind, and run on body heat.

With the overalls, a warm sweater, and a hat I could have left my thermostat at 50 and been perfectly comfortable throughout the season. If you have never worn an insulated suit it is far warmer than layering or even a good down jacket–in fact, he past several winters have not been cold enough for me to don my insulated coveralls–aka “a monkey suit”–outdoors. (Monkey suits don’t work as well in doors as the sleeves interfere with several domestic activities, like cooking.)

The cost of creating summertime temperatures indoors throughout the winter isn’t just financial. Living in a cold house keeps you in touch with nature and I swear it reduces the risk of colds as it seems healthy to breath cold air.

What’s more, overalls are not only practical but people look cute in them.
With energy assistance programs stretched thin, might it not be worth considering sending out vouchers for some warm clothing and save on the fossil fuels?* Granted a lot of people already live this way (most of the people I know who do this are single men).

At the start of WWII only half the households in American had indoor bathrooms and many of those were shared in urban tenements. People were not necessarily tougher back then but the standards for comfort were lower. These standards are however, arbitrary; and 73 degrees through the winter would seem a standard that is out of reach of the average Mainer.

I don’t drive a Rolls Royce, eat beluga caviar, and I’m not in the top 10% so why should I heat my house as though I am?

Because I am a sucker.

* No politician in their right mind would ever publicly support such a measure.