How can we stay warm in this brutal winter without going broke and without looking like a fugitive from Vermont?
There is no simple solution, but there are better ways than layering to the point of immobility and dropping the thermostat to 58 degrees. Yes, I know people who do that!
I believe that most of us are probably living in homes that have more space than we need. Is there a way to turn off the heat to certain rooms and only put it back on when kids return for visits? If you have electric heat or zoned hot-water heat, the answer is “yes.” If your oil heat is not zoned, get a quote from your plumber that will permit you to turn down the heat in certain parts of the house. The expense could be worth it in fuel savings.
That said, if you have a fireplace or woodstove, use it. During the very cold weather, it’s great to have a focus of heat. It also adds to the quality of indoor life. And it’s good exercise to cut, gather and haul wood inside. As the saying goes, “Wood warms you twice.”
And if you are not up to cutting your own, there are many companies on the Island that can supply and stack good dry wood. You’ll still get exercise and fresh air bringing it inside.
Fresh air and exercise outdoors, no matter how cold the temperature, is very healthy and makes the return indoors seem so warm at 68 degrees.
Also cook and bake frequently. Why waste the BTUs your oven generates? When the baking is complete, turn off the oven and open the oven door so the heat pours into the room.
I have also found that long underwear is a necessity for both indoor and outdoor comfort. You do not want cold temperatures preventing you from having fun sledding at Goat Hill with your grandchildren or ice skating in Greenport. I lived for a long time way upstate and cotton long johns helped me get through those winters, whether skiing or watching outdoor hockey games. A coat and tie are also easy to wear over them. You will not feel like you are wearing a space suit.
The cold snowy days have a way of bringing on what many call “cabin fever.” An antidote for this depressing feeling is to dress for dinner at least once a week and set the table with silver and good china.
Invite someone over who is in the same predicament to share the meal with you. This activity can positively punctuate an otherwise dreary week and bring a certain amount of civility to the wilderness.