This will be the first winter in my new home. Although the summer months were pleasant, I have recently developed a substantial fear of the heat bill, which is apparent upon stepping into my 60-degree home. Honestly, I haven’t been this paranoid since my mother allowed me to watch my first “Chucky” movie at age seven.
Needless to say, I have cold feet. Blankets are stacked high and dressing in layers isn’t just an attempt to be trendy. In fact, dressing in layers has not only become a habit but a necessity. However, despite feeling like Martha Stewart‘s evil sister when friends accept an invite to my residence, I’ve surprisingly been able to deal with the less-than-tropical conditions without much trauma.
However, my roommate is having difficulty adjusting. Since he resides in the basement, I could understand why his shorts and miniature blankets aren’t cutting it anymore. He has joked, hinted and even asked nicely to turn the heat to a more tolerable temperature. After a few quarrels, he resorted to turning up the heat sans my approval.
Noticing an unusual comfort, I quickly put the kibosh on his plan. I can’t blame him for his actions. When basic survival instincts kick in, ya gotta do what ya gotta do (unless, in his case, it requires putting on few extra sweatshirts).
While I’m okay dealing with cold hands and remorsefully wearing socks to bed at night (which notoriously get stolen from Chucky before the morning comes), I’m in a cold sweat worrying that my roommate is freezing in the basement. The guilt has begun to chip away at the ice around my heart (or brain, rather) which led me to check out other options.
Since transporting my home 980 miles south didn’t seem to make much sense financially, I began researching and discovered a programmable thermostat might prevent walking on thin ice with my roommate.
According to the EPA, homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting a programmable thermostat. These nifty pieces of equipment cost anywhere from $25 to $100 and apparently save homeowners a hefty load of energy and therefore money. Since a programmable thermostat allows regulation of a home’s temperature when you are home, away or asleep, it is possible to remain comfortable while saving a few bucks.
Excited about the warm possibilities a programmable thermostat might bring, I called my sister (who has also been bundling up to save a… bundle) to ask whether she had considered a programmable thermostat.
Of course the naysayer brought up some interesting points.
“I don’t think it will help because then your furnace has to work extra hard to heat the place after you let the temp drop!”
Hmmm… Good point, sis. Glad one of us isn’t naive.
So I did more research and discovered an article by a guy who refers to himself as Consumer Man. With a title like that, the guy has to know a thing or two. Consumer Man said a new programmable thermostat is “almost certain to cut your heating and cooling costs. Despite what many people think, keeping the house at a constant temperature all day long does not save money.”
He informed readers that by lowering the temperature inside your house by 5 to 10 degrees at night or when the home is vacant, you can cut heating bills by up to 20 percent a year.
However, Consumer Man emphasized that these thermostats only help save money when properly programmed. He wrote of a Consumer Reports test of 25 models which found that “confusing controls on some can make it easy to burn more energy than you bargained for.” Hence, homeowners need to understand how to program the thermostat.
Consumer Man’s warning puts me back at square one. These programmable thermostats don’t seem to have the same benefits my sweaters do – free, simple and already in possession. Then again, if your roommate is unwilling to put one on and the situation leads to heated debates throughout the winter, maybe we don’t have anything to worry about.
Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.