When Fuel for Heating Runs Short
IN MANY places fuel for heating the home—natural gas and oil—is in short supply. Regardless of what the economic or political causes may be, homeowners want to know what can be done to keep warm.
Ideally, the answer is to live in an insulated house that keeps cold air out and allows little of the warmth produced by valuable fuel to escape. Many persons, however, live in rented houses or apartments; they have little control over their home’s insulation. If this is your situation, what can you do to get maximum benefit from whatever fuel you do have available?
Save Fuel by Making Changes in Your Home
To keep cold air out, find all the leaks in your home. This can sometimes save more heating fuel than insulation does. The magazine Popular Mechanics reminds us: “Warm air leakage or cold-air infiltration can mean 15 to 30 percent of your heating bill is going ‘out the window.’” You may think your home is leakproof, but have you made an inspection? One way to discover leaks is to move a lighted candle slowly around closed windows and outside doors and in other spots where leaks are likely to be found, If the flame flickers, you have discovered a leak.
Storm windows are a very effective way of blocking window leaks, as is a professional weather-stripping job. But if your home has neither of these advantages, there is still much that you can do.
Inexpensive, easily installed felt stripping can be obtained for sash windows. Is new caulking needed around windowpanes? Old caulking gets brittle with age and allows air to enter. Additionally, good caulking can block air from entering underneath or alongside a window sash. Wide tape can be used to seal windows. Or, if you prefer it, use clear sheet vinyl over the entire window.
Heavy drapery can be helpful in keeping warm air inside a room, impeding its flow toward a cold windowpane where it will be dissipated. Of course, it is wise to have the drapery open when the sun shines on a particular window, to take advantage of its warmth. Be careful, too, that drapery or furniture does not block the flow of heat from outlets or radiators.
Doors, also, may have leaks around them. Rubber stripping, attached to the bottom of the door, stops a draft. Other leaks may be near fireplaces or around air-conditioning units built through the wall. Check for leaks near baseboards too. Proper steps can be taken to caulk or otherwise fill or cover these openings.
Remember, further, that fuel is consumed in heating the water in your hot-water heater. Do you have a dripping hot-water faucet? One drop per second, it has been estimated, adds up to 650 gallons in a year. That is a lot of water to heat and yet never use. You can save fuel by fixing that faucet. Also, you will be helped to get maximum benefits from hot water if you hold off washing clothes in your machine until you have a full load.
Have you considered an alternate source of heat in your home? Some families once used a fireplace, but stopped when they found that it sometimes smoked. Possibly a few adjustments are all that are needed to reactivate your fireplace. Smoking may be caused by the way a draft from a nearby entryway strikes your fireplace, or soot may build up because of the kind of wood you burn. If family members can cut wood for fuel, you may find that a fireplace is an economical substitute or supplement when oil or natural gas is in short supply.
This is only one aspect of the matter. There are also other secrets to help you to stay warm when fuel is limited.
Save Fuel by Changes in Your Manner of Life
Could it be that, by your way of life, you use more fuel than necessary? Why not investigate and see if that is true? To start with, do you heat the whole house? In some parts of the world, even in fashionable homes, only one or two rooms are heated. It saves fuel.
Is heat in your home thermostatically controlled? It might be beneficial to make it a habit to set the dial lower than you have in the past. Every degree of reduction may result in a 4-percent fuel savings. In a short time you may actually come to prefer a cooler home. One U.S. physician says that ‘in a temperature of 66 to 68 degrees you’re really more healthy than when it’s 75 or 78.’ Also, air in a heated room is drier and some people find this very uncomfortable.
Even if your home’s heat level is not automatically controlled, a similar principle applies: You can save fuel by living in a slightly cooler environment. Why, for instance, keep a kitchen radiator heating while also cooking? Further, if you are going to be in a room for only a limited time, why keep the heat on until you leave? A few minutes of heating will generally provide enough warmth for reasonable comfort during the time you will be there.
You can be aided to be comfortable and healthy when using less fuel if you dress properly for cooler temperatures. During the day one can become accustomed to wearing a sweater. One key to warmth seems to be in wearing several layers of clothes rather than just heavy garments; two lighter shirts will probably serve better than one bulky one. At night more clothing, like socks on your feet, may mean you can keep warm without heat.
Just as important as good dress is a good diet. A high-protein diet, as Eskimos in the far North show, results in higher metabolism, making it easier for one to combat cold weather. Of course, protein is found, not just in meat, but also in lentils and beans and in other foods. Hot drinks—coffee, tea, soup, broth, chocolate—will also help to keep you warm.
Patient repetition may be needed to make your children aware of the need to save heat. It would be worth while to teach them that doors and windows should be completely shut, so as not to allow the escape of warm air.
Stay warm, too, by remaining busy. Sew. Cook. Write letters. Repair furniture. That will aid you to keep your mind off any small discomfort caused by the cold.
There is something else that Christians in particular can do to save fuel: Share. During any emergency an elderly person or someone who lives alone may be able to stay with you temporarily.
Rather than become irritable because a fuel shortage is demanding special measures, use the opportunity to cultivate the godly qualities of love, long-suffering, kindness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Then, the application of some practical suggestions, and the knowledge that the winter will end, can aid you to get along with a fair degree of comfort even when fuel is short.