Chilly Creativity: 4 Ways to Prep for the Flip of the Furnace Switch

This guy was born ready for the cold.

This guy was born ready for the cold.

I don’t want to turn on the heater.

I’m sitting here at my workstation shivering, knowing for darn well sure the cold is upsetting my Monday productivity. Outside it’s 55 and overcast, ready to rain any minute. Last night was in the upper 30s/low 40s. The house is quiet, cold after having made it through the night; it’s still warming up, so to speak, but, without direct sunlight, improvement is slow. It’s 55 outside, and 56 in here. I guess my body heat and the incandescent light bulb hanging in a chandelier above my dining table can account for the one-degree offset.

I don’t want to turn on the heater.

I’m just happy we have an upstairs, and happy heat rises, because downstairs… well, it’s gotta be in the 40s. I’m almost curious enough to take my husband’s thermocouple (yep, he teaches me big words) down there to be sure. But I won’t.

When I lean over to pet the bunnies, even their ears are cold. And they’re wearing fur coats.

I don’t want to turn on the heater.

Cranking on the furnace means a variety of things, most of which I don’t count as positives. I think first not of immediate comfort (I’ll just layer more sweaters, add another pair of socks, and–HECK!–maybe even don a beanie while I’m in here!), but rather that…

  1. …itchy, dry skin, chapped lips, static-y hair, and contact lens misery are just around the corner.
  2. …we’ll be eating even more quickly through our pre-paid tank of propane and–“waste not, want not”–it seems more reasonable at this point (my fingers are merely chilly, not frozen, mind you) that the propane go toward making my every-other-day showers twice as hot and doubly enjoyable, rather than mildly warm and less-than-exciting.
  3. …the undoubtedly thick layer of dust, dander, and what-not that’s accumulated in the air ducts since April–the last time we used the furnace, because where we live doesn’t have central A/C–will billow out with unrelenting force at the instance of their disturbance. (In other words, “Hello, tormenting household allergens. Happy freakin’ autumn to you, too.” **grumble::grumble**)
  4. …if I turn on the heat, then that makes the outside seem even colder than it is. That makes me a wintertime hermit. No good.
  5. …warmer at night ruins all my excuses for cuddling my cold feet up to the hubby at nighttime. (He whines, but I know he likes it… and it makes me laugh.)

I don’t want to turn on the heater.

But, I will. It’s inevitable. Once things get to be around mid-40s outside all day long (hopefully not for another couple of weeks), I’ll cave. I’m a weakling like that.

Luckily, I’ve already mentally and physcially prepped myself and the house for the daunting flip of the switch by doing the following

 

4 Things to Do Before the Winter Switch

1. Check doors and windows for proper sealing.

If need be, and if you can (as in the case of a rental, sometimes landlords are less than eager for tenants to take these matters into their own hands), remove cracked, squished, or otherwise “not working” draft seals and install new ones. Some are adhesive-backed; other, more technical kinds are nail- or glue-on. As an added bonus, install some clear window “shrinkwrap” insulation. My dad swore by the stuff for the hot Dallas summer. I’m sure it couldn’t hurt for winter, as well.

2. Change the furnace filter.

Yes, even if you’re “sure” it’s clean, pull it out anyway and give it a check. If it’s lookin’ not so hot, toss in a new one. I like to buy the 3M Filtrete Ultra, because I want to filter out viruses and bacteria from the air, as well as allergen particulates like dustmites, mold, and pollen. Nobody likes getting sick, expecially around the holidays. (For other tips on prepping your furnace, look here.)

3. Cover ducts in unused rooms.

No sense in letting precious warm air get wasted in unused rooms! These magnetic sheets are super for diverting air to more precious spaces. I’m using them this year in our basement, which we generally just use as storage and not a living space. Plus, they cut to fit any sized vent, which is handy since the last house we living in had different sized vents than our current abode. Since the basement in our place now consists of nearly half the house’s square footage, that’ll save a bundle on energy and effort.

4. Heat in Moderation.

That’s probably what Grandpa would have said. Sure, a balmy 80 might feel nice, but that’s pricey in heating terms. Hubby and I are generally over-thrifty when it comes to utilities, so we set the thermostat to about 65 during the day (I “crank” it to 70 if I’m in a less penny-pinchy mood) and a Scrooge-like 55 at night (yay, cuddle time!). If we have visitors, they’ll receive the honorary 70-degree setting for the length of their stay. We’re may be misers, be we’re not unmannerly!

FINE. I’ll turn on the heater.

There you have it: a quick to-do before settling in for the season. Add to that pulling out the box of scarves, hats, gloves, and extra-cushy winter socks, and I’m all set for another Polar Vortex.

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