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Thinker
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I'm trying to prepare for what looks to be a very cold winter here in South Dakota... I have a propane tank out back - the central heat runs on a furnace but doesn't appear to be very efficient. I have space heaters but am concerned they will use too much electricity. Because I rent, getting a wood stove or solar panels installed on the roof is out.

So, I'm wondering what are the best ways to heat a place without using electric, fuel oil, wood or propane? I thought I had seen somewhere a post about making solar window heating boxes - I have 5 southern facing windows (and 2 western facing windows) that may be used in that way, or I could simply seal them all with plastic and hope for the best.

Thoughts?
 

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Thermal longjohns ( x7 for the whole week ) and an extra layer of.clothing :D:
Blankets.

Since it isnt your property there is not much that you could really do.
Isolation, more efficient heating,wood stove,double paned glazing are all out.

You could do those acrylic insert windows that you put in the window frame inside the house.....not as good as real double glazing but it helps. The rest of the house could still leak heat as a sieve though.

You say that a woodstove is out, are you planning to leave that house soon ?
You could try to draw up a contract where you both share costs and he forgoes the "property returned in original condition clause", with some kind depreciation schedule for the costs on your part ( so you arent out of all your money if you leave after a year ). It could add value to the property from the owners PoV.
 

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Eat regularly and include complex carbohydrates, you'll need more then usual as it takes more energy to keep warm.

Get yourself loads of hot water bottles and use them especially around the middle area of the body to keep the core warm.

Layer your clothes and don't wear cotton next to the skin.

Put a hat, gloves and socks on.

Learn to breath through your nose and thus not loose heat through your mouth.

Have pets to share body warm with.

See to any draughts in the house now, seal it up, put excluders under doors etc. Hang curtains on outside doors to stop draughts coming through those.

Use candle/oil lamps as they give off heat.

Put reflectors behind any radiators to push heat out into the room.

DO NOT use outside barbeques inside as they give off carbonoxide. Make sure all flues in an open fire are cleaned and the chimney swept for the same reason.
 

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Electric blankets for the beds, I don't heat our bedrooms.

I prefer the oil style electric heater vs the ceramic fan heater. If you don't have zone heating but want to resist turning the heat on, one of these in the main bathroom is really nice for cold mornings.

Bake, or fire up the canner very cold days, Dry fresh fruits, or make jerky. A roast in the crock pot all helps to keep the kitchen warm, and they smell wonderful.

Heat pads for under seats or at a computer desk.

If your going to use a lamp at your desk, take out the low energy LED bulb and put a regular incandescent bulb in (or a heat lamp). Lower the bulb to get both the light energy and the heat closer to you.

Depending on your diy level. 1x1's cut just to fit into the frame of the worst windows. (like a window on the inside of your regular window) Use the plastic window glazing shrink wrap on both sides of your frame. Foam strip to seal to the inside frame of the current window. Then follow the directions as normal to add a 3rd (4th if you include the window itself) layer.

If you can't build, consider some clear packing style bubble wrap inside the window. Attach with double sided tape, Then add a normal glazing on the frame like above.

On windows that don't get much direct sunlight (heat energy) panels of cardboard can be layered in the window, though this does block the view. cut the panels of cardboard to fit snug inside the frame as close to the glass as you can, then start adding until you are at the edge of the frame. Duct tape all the way around the cardboard, to hold them together and close up the ends) and use foam strip to seal inside the window frame. As above, add a regular glazing or... leave open so you can take the cardboard out during the day.

Wool socks.

Hang a blanket over doors that don't get used, or that are not used often in the winter. 2x sticky tape to the door. Most times you can rig up something that fits into the top frame of the door to hold the blanket. Roll up a blanket and place at the bottom of the door (draft stop) some call them, holds the bottom of the hanging blanket.

3 layers. T-shirt, long sleeve shirt, then sweatshirt / sweater.

I don't have hair, so I wear a hat, or will pull up my hood on my sweatshirt.

If you spend lots of time at a desk, an under desk ceramic heater will keep much of the heat near you. Close up the desk with a tablecloth. Opening where you sit. ** FIRE HAZARD if your unlucky, or stupid.

Heated computer keyboard. Yea they make them.

For fun one day we decided to "go camping" in the family room. A tent in the family room will keep a person amazingly warm. Even with the tent door open to watch the game. ;-)

Grow a beard ;-) The best time to grow a beard was 6 months ago, the 2nd best time is today. ;-) My most sincere apologies to all arborists.



Wub
 

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If you can get ahold of supply of free or inexpensive firewood?
Why not ask your landlord if you can install a small woodstove?

I heated a fair sized single level house with one for a few years with this little jewel.

Jotul 602

 

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You mean these....I think

I've looked at them....but all my windows crank out. That won't ever happen again.


http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-a-Soda-Can-Heater/

Cheap and easy enough to make certainly. Why not give them a go.


I have large corner windows in both the living room and kitchen. I bought some moving blankets from Harbor Freight. Nailed them to the windows at the top. They stay down at night or on really cold days. I cut a slot in the bottom corners so that they could be turned up and secured on the top nails during nicer days. Fast thermal shades. Since you have more south facing windows, you could just pull them down completely during the day to get the most benefit of the sun, then put them back up before evening to retain heat.
 

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With the very low prices for propane this year, that is probably your best bet. Use fans to keep the cold spots warmer, or close off the registers in rooms you don't want to heat. In WI propane is around $0.60 per gallon right now, so unless you have a free source of wood, and an existing wood stove (which it sounds like you don't), electricity will be a much higher cost way to heat your house this winter. I struggle with the same issue. Do I keep the thermostat down (on my propane furnace), and use electric space heaters or not? 2 years ago, propane was $3-4 per gallon, so I used some space heaters.
This year it's propane since it's so cheap.

Good luck, looking to be a cold snowy winter from what I've heard.

D
 

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Close up and minimally heat most of the house/apartment!

Heat the main open area usually the kitchen/living room area. Keep the heated area very cool!

Put a thermometers up to monitor temps inside as your body will try to tell you it's colder than it is.

Space heat the bathroom so you can quickly warm it up for a few minutes in the morning while you getting ready.

While home dress warmly! Wool socks and good house shoes are a must along with at least two-three layers that should include a good hat.

Insulate what you can! Bubble wrap in the windows still let's light in but adds some insulation. Drafts around doors should be dealt with. Blanket or tarp over open doorways into areas not needing heat will keep heat in the heated space. Rolled up towels at bottom of doors helps too!

Keep blankets or quilts next to your chairs/couches and coverup when you sit down.

I have successfully used a ceremic heater under the edge of the blanket to keep the space around me warm! Putting a stool or something over or in front of the heater to hold the blanket up and away from the heater helps. I've actually studied many hours like this in a room I could see my breath in.

The bedroom shouldn't be heated! Sleep in good long johns or some such, wool socks and even a hat if needed. I like the 1/4 zip t neck tops for this.

Heavy blankets, quilts ect are a must! One of my single buddies just went with a good sleeping bag with great success.

A hot water bottle will make this work very well! A two liter soda bottle (some work better than others) 75-80% full of water with all the air squeezed out can be heated up in the microwave oven. A good bottle can be used all winter, but be careful the first few times to make sure the water doesn't expand too much and leak! You still want a little flex in the bottle once it's hot! A heavy wool boot sock should be pulled over the bottle to keep it from burning you if it gets up against you during the night. This will also insulate it so it puts out heat over many hours.

Once set you will know exactly how long it takes in the microwave and just warm it up and throw it in bed 10 minutes before you go to bed. Kicked to the foot of the bed you will stay warm all night even if ice forms in the room during the night. The bottle should keep the bed warm 12 plus hours!

The above is my favorite if I'm using it often. Otherwise I boil a tea kettle and pour a Nalgene bottle full of boiling water and shove it into a boot sock. I tighten the lid once more after its in the sock and hot and put it in bed.

Both work! The 2 liter bottle carries more heat and is simple once set up. The Nalgene is nice if your starting from scratch and only using it once in a while.

Oh and most seem to miss the importance of staying hydrated during the winter! It helps a lot! I tend towards hot drinks, but even warm/hot water hydrates without robbing heat from you.

SD
 

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Use ceramic catalitic red-flame (not blue-flame) vent free heaters, propane powered, thermostatic controlled and very efficient. The 5 panel model will heat a very large area. Get both carbon monoxide and oxygen depleting alarms (cheap).
Consolidate into fewer rooms of if possible to a basement which is usually easier to heat. Do not neglect your water in unused bathrooms, drain the waterlines and put anti freeze into the drains.
 

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LOWER YOUR CEILING HEIGHT WITH MINIMAL COST

My dad used to have a store in the Bronx, NY. One way he saved money in the winter was to tape large plastic sheets to his walls about six feet above the floor. So, instead of allowing the heat to rise to the 9 foot ceilings in the store, the heat rose only to a max of six.

It felt a LOT warmer due to his little innovation!
 

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More ways to stay warm

Find out if there are drafts coming around the doors. Use plastic grocery bags folded lengthwise to stuff in along the door edges and use rolled up old towels along the bottom of the door.

Check with the homeowner about fixing any cracks or holes on the outside of the house such as around water pipes that open to the outside.

Change your furnace filter. Make sure you are getting all the heat your furnace puts out. If the ducts are accessible, make sure they are not leaking hot air and if they are, contact the homeowner to repair that. I think you should consider talking to the homeowner if the furnace is seriously inefficient. Perhaps all it needs is an adjustment or cleaning. Check to make sure that none of your belongings is covering the cold air returns. More air in equals more air out.

Use throw rugs, especially if you are on a slab.

If the house has curtains, remember to open them in the day and close them at night.
 

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Bassmaster
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Not sure if it was mentioned but I keep a electric oil filled heater in my bedroom in the winters. I set my furnace to 52- 56 degrees at night and usually it never runs. I sleep toasty warm while those insects and creepy critters freeze.
 

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The price of propane varies a lot by demand and time of year.
Propane is not dry heat like wood. It puts plenty of moisture in the air, no need to add more with a kettle like you often put on a Woodstove.
 

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Solar window box heater and sun oven 😊

Check out this YouTube video:


http://youtu.be/r22AWgASnMk


She used some extra greenhouse panels and some wood, bought some little solar fans from Amazon (I got them and they work). It heats the room and is also a sun oven. Very ingenious idea. At least it will heat one room 😊
 

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reluctant sinner
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It was 50 in the house the other day so I built a fire. I'm in shorts and tee shirt at 60, I like the cold.

Generally the only room I heat electrically is the bathroom (65). I have baseboard electric, a big door flat topped brick lined wood stove, a ventless propane furnace, and a small electric ceramic heater plus the most important item an electric blanket.

Drink hot tea. Eat cayenne on your food. Dress in layers. A beanie hat and good gloves or mittens, down booties - the polar guard ones were better but hard to find and cost more.

Make cozies for several 2 liter pop bottles. Fill with really hot water and take them to bed with you.

So here electricity is 1/3 cheaper than propane (I haven't done the calculation lately) but sometime Idaho power doesn't have anything to sell. I think wood is around $150 a cord for break even, again I haven't calculated it lately. Lump coal was the cheapest winter heat I ever used but it stinks. This will be my 25 winter in my house. Winter 1 it was -25 in the house. No power or plumbing back then.

In the winter I keep the door closed to the Junk Room, its a bedroom 12'x15 except when the wood stove tries to run me out.
 
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