I usually love the fall. I love the crisp bite in the air, the scent of burning firewood and the breezy days. I also love the fact that here in Georgia, I don't usually have to use my air conditioner or my heater from about mid September to the first of November. That's not to say it doesn't start getting cold here, because it does. Right now it's down to 38 degrees outside! It's only October 18 and my house is only down to 66 degrees, so I haven't turned on my heater. I keep the house at a relatively chilly 65 degrees all winter long. Some people might read that last statement and think I'm insane and that 65 degrees is WAY too cold. I'm going to tell you about the ways we stay warm and keep our winter utilities at around $150 a month (gas and electric) in a 1750 square foot house.
The first thing I always do to stay warm, is I wear thick socks. I can't even describe the difference this makes. My mom got me two pairs of woolen slipper socks last winter and they really helped a lot. I even wore them to bed when it was especially cold. This may seem obvious, but I also wear a sweater in the house. A lot of people I know keep their thermostat set at 72 or even 74 degrees and then complain about $200 or $300 utility bills! These same people hang out wearing shorts and tee shirts all winter, while in the artificially tropical environment they've created and are now paying through the nose for. It's winter...It's supposed to be cold!
Another way I stay warm, is I use a heating pad when I start feeling tempted to turn up that thermostat. The heating pad is especially helpful at night, when I'm first trying to fall asleep and the sheets on my bed are still cold. I use a heating pad to warm up my kids' beds as well. Another way to keep your bed warm, is to use flannel sheets. I bought mine on sale in the spring, for like $15 a set.
I also drink hot beverages to stay warm. All winter my oldest daughter and I drink herbal tea and my younger two drink hot chocolate. One of our favorite winter activities is to pile on the couch together under a blanket and watch a movie, while sipping our hot drinks. On the same vein, I make a lot of hearty, warming meals. For breakfast I make oatmeal instead of cold cereal. For lunch I make soup instead of a cold sandwich. For dinner I might make a hearty stew or chili, or lasagna or pot roast, all served with hot, crusty bread.
I know not everyone has a fireplace, but if you do, it's a great way to cheaply heat up your house. I'm talking about a wood burning fireplace, not a gas one. Here in Georgia, I pay about $150 for a cord of wood to be delivered to my house and loaded into my wood shed. If you've never seen a cord of wood, know that it is a huge amount. I usually only have to burn one cord of wood for the entire winter. The cold weather here lasts for about five months and during that time, I burn a LOT of wood. If you live in an area where firewood is really expensive, this isn't a good option for you. Here in the South, hardwood happens to be all over the place!
Those are the ways that my family stays warm in the winter without busting our budget. It can be hard sometimes (especially when my parents visit from Florida and my dad walks around making comments like, "You could store meat in here!" and my mom just sits huddled in front of the fire, speechless and shivering:P) It's all worth it, though, when Spring comes and I haven't had to drain my savings, or go into debt.