Heating costs: self-experiment – how do you survive cold days without heating?

Heating cost explosion
Self-experiment: How do you survive cold days without heating?

We don’t appreciate the invention of blankets enough

© Julia Gerasina / Getty Images

Do you have to heat up now? Our author believes: no. She would like to delay switching on the heating this year for as long as possible – for known reasons. A field report.

Well, didn’t we say over and over again over the past few winters that they weren’t “real” winters anymore? Hardly any snow, hardly any ice, so mild, and so on? Then it can’t be that difficult not to turn on the heating for a year – actually. Or? Given the horrendous energy prices at the moment, my husband and I decided that we would like to delay this for as long as possible, at least for one season. After all, we don’t live in Siberia here, but in a modern city apartment. And with a few tricks, you’re sure to last for a while?

Well, we still have the beginning of October. With a bit of goodwill, you could still call it late summer, on the better days it still has up to 18 degrees in Hamburg. On the worse ones you get a feeling for the deepest, dull cold autumn. And that’s when I noticed it for the first time: what you don’t get with the heating on is that nasty, clammy feeling in the air. This doesn’t directly cause frostbite, but it is uncomfortable. The opposite of cozy.

Through the winter without heating?

I quickly feel the need to light candles everywhere. On the one hand to increase the comfort factor, on the other hand because the sight of the small flames gives the instinct-controlled Neanderthal in me the good feeling of sitting next to a heat source. Okay, maybe that also plays into it that I basically mutate into a candle fan in the fall and have left the nearby Ikea too often with a kilogram of scented candles that I didn’t really need right now. A little bit, if only for the feeling, helps.

The second trick I had to quickly resort to was – whoops, this comes as a surprise – more clothes. However, you must know that you are dealing with someone who has always been referred to by his parents with the term “Frösteköttel” borrowed from the most beautiful Lower Saxon dialect. And rightly so. While my husband is sitting on the couch in his t-shirt, I have long since taken the warm sofa blanket out of the closet and am planning to buy more thermal leggings.

Children, keep your feet warm!

Everyone has a body part that freezes first. And which, as soon as it gets cold, causes whole-body chills and discomfort. For me it’s my feet. Everything about me can be toasty warm – as soon as my feet freeze, I’ll shiver and say something like, “Brrr brrr.” There are actually physiological reasons for this: on the one hand, the feet are not as important to the body as the heart or liver, for example, so it makes less effort with blood circulation. On the other hand, cold feet actually have an effect on the immune system, and those who keep them warm stay healthy for longer. I don’t have to be told twice: the thick wool socks have been in constant use for a long time.

However, warm socks alone are not the non plus ultra – because as with clothing for trekking, the layering principle applies here. In order to optimally insulate chilly feet, it takes two a pair of socks. A thin and a thick pair have worked well for me. And in the apartment, sexy Birkenstock slippers are also used to reduce foot-to-floor contact as much as possible. Maybe not a visual highlight, but a hearty recommendation. What you should definitely have as a heating skeptic are at least two warm, fluffy and long(!) cardigans that fit comfortably. You can put them on or take them off as needed.

Blankets, socks, cats

Blankets of any kind are also a great thing. In bed, a thinner sofa cover under the normal duvet provides extra warmth (see the sock principle above) and if you are not afraid of cable fires (and are not unduly proud), you can upgrade even further with an electric blanket. In our case, I can warmly recommend a slightly overweight tomcat (haha!), because since the underfloor heating is not switched on, the people present are suddenly the warmest objects within reach, which is why the animal mainly lies around on them and you feel like, win-win situation, give off heat to each other.

Otherwise, a bit of other power consumption occasionally has to compensate for the heating energy saved: the kettle, for example. It is often used here, both for hot tea and for the next filling of the hot-water bottle, which I carry around with me all day when needed. And a really nice, hot shower in the evening is also a must if you’re brave enough otherwise. And as I type “bravely,” I’m looking out the window at this beautiful 18 degree warm fall day with sunshine and feeling a little silly. It’s not really winter yet. Whether we can hold out in sub-zero temperatures – I have no idea.

But normally we would have turned the heating on long ago without even thinking about it. It’s a really good feeling that it’s been possible without it so far. Not only because of our worried wallets – also because of the environment. On the other hand, many people in Germany do not have the option to turn the temperature control if necessary – the money is simply not enough. For many, this is not an interesting experiment, but bitter everyday life, even for families with children. And that is the opposite of a good feeling. And sending warm thoughts is just not enough in this case.

But since I’m not Olaf Scholz, just a Hamburger with cold feet, here are my tips for delaying heating:

  • Always warm the part of your body that usually freezes you first
  • Two layers are better than one – especially with socks
  • lots of hot tea (or coffee, or cocoa)
  • burning candles at least warm the mind
  • Hot water bottles are a great thing, use them!
  • Blankets, blankets everywhere
  • owns a long, warm, cozy cardigan
  • Slippers are not sexy, but practical
  • hot showers are allowed if you already save energy otherwise

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