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Old 10-26-2016, 01:21 PM
99 posts, read 164,382 times
Reputation: 106


I live in a two story house with a basement (some call this three story) and I think the whole house is around 3600 sq. ft. I have one 28 year old thermostat and heat pump to heat the entire house. There's some type of auxiliary heat that cycles on and off if the outdoor temp. is below 40. The auxiliary heat is more expensive because it uses some type of electric heaters.

Typically, during the winter, I have the thermostat set so the downstairs is around 64-66 with it dropping as low as 62 on a particularly cold night here on the east coast. Upstairs is anywhere from 66-70, depending on the room. The NE side is about 66-67 and the SW side varies from 67-70 depending on if the door is open to the room. I don't know what the basement is as I don't use it. These temps. are fine for me and I wouldn't mind if it were a little bit colder. My December electric bill is usually around 1750 kWH and January is the highest at around 3180 kWH ($315). I figure holiday baking and oven usage plays a part in that. It's also usually colder in January too. February is often in the middle at around 2300 kWH.

This year is totally different. My Grandma lives with me now and she freezes if it's 76 in the middle of summer. It was 38 outside this morning with the indoor temp. at 70 and she was cold with layered clothing plus a blanket.

Is there a way to keep the downstairs warm and keep the upstairs cold? I tried shutting most of the vents upstairs while opening nearly all of the vents downstairs. But I'm not sure this is wise. If cold air sinks, maybe I should open all the vents in the house. I don't know.

Then I think maybe I should open the downstairs vents, shut the upstairs vents and put up a curtain at the bottom of the steps to help keep the cold air upstairs. It would look silly, but if it works then maybe it's worth it.

Grandma is supposed to pay the difference in heating costs, but I'm still afraid of the bills. I'm 99.9% certain I'll have to buy two space heaters (one for Grandma's bedroom and one for the living room), but I'd like to figure out where my thermostat should be set first to keep the heating costs as low as possible.

Any suggestions?

I don't think I want Grandma to use electric blankets because she has incontinence, especially at night. She sometimes wets her bed and she wears those adult diapers all the time. So I don't feel comfortable with her using electric blankets. If I get space heaters, I'm leaning towards the oil kind as I heard they're the best (most efficient and economical). Even though Grandma wears layers, she still gets cold. She often complains of her fingers being cold. I don't want to have her wear gloves, that doesn't seem right.

I'll also point out that I don't think my heat pump and/or duct work is very efficient anymore. Most houses of this size are now being built with two or three heat pumps and thermostats.
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Old 10-26-2016, 01:27 PM
Location: Central IL
13,362 posts, read 7,121,412 times
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Fingerless gloves are actually quite fashionable now - they are fairly lightweight and you can do just about anything in them you could otherwise. Some are almost like socks for your hands depending on what they're made of - not super bulky like "outside" gloves.

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Old 10-26-2016, 02:03 PM
Location: North Carolina
465 posts, read 265,916 times
Reputation: 1648
We use a self contained radiator type heater to take the chill off in the winter. There is no open flame or radiant tubes showing. I believe there is oil inside the radiator and as it heats the coils inside the radiator, it warms the room. Ours has a thermostat on it and so we can keep it low at night if needed, then program it to cut on early in the morning to take the chill off in the living room before we get up. Keeping it close to the person who is chilly isn't a problem either. We have found it to be fairly economical.
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Old 10-26-2016, 07:42 PM
473 posts, read 283,583 times
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I rented apartment in converted 1900s house. I did end up hanging up blankets on poorly fitting doors. If you don't use the door at all, cover it over with masking tape and then hang a blanket from trim boards with nails. Can put nails into top of door trim boards and won't have any holes that show.

Can experiment with temperature to see how low you can go, but would leave the faucet drip and cabinet doors open on any plumbing that is along outside walls. Frozen pipes are worse than big utility bill.

Lots of blankets/duvet on bed can help YOU tolerate low temperatures but probably not appropriate for incontinent elder.

Of all the draft stoppers I've purchased, I like the felt weather strips you NAIL onto door. These last several years and much better than styrophome.

Can keep a pan of water simmering on back of stove, it warms things up. Also adds some humidity to room to drip dry wet clothing inside during winter - humidity makes the room feel a little warmer.

Could try to clean/cook 10 minutes of every hour if you are able. This will keep your body temperature up and help you feel warmer.
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:25 PM
Location: Too Far from Florida!
149 posts, read 307,440 times
Reputation: 198
My mom is 93 and I just learned old people get cold easily. we are upstate NY so this is what we do.

#1 Buy Thermal curtains for all rooms
We noticed a Huge difference when we put it in the heat retention
It keeps heat in and cold out. We spend initially but we saved on oil and the difference is huge!
Trust me on this one.
We got them in overstock.com


#2 Oil space heaters
One for moms bedroom and one in living room
Got it at Home Depot. The best thing ever!

#3 Down comforter
This thing is a furnace, amazing. we got it at Macy's
Worth every penny

The rest is hats, Warm clothing and socks!
We hate to be cold and my sister insist in having the house comfortably warm.

Hope this helps

I will link to the products above
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:44 PM
Location: The Berk in Denver, CO USA
13,114 posts, read 18,715,776 times
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Spend the money ($200+) on an energy audit.
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:00 PM
9,821 posts, read 13,892,257 times
Reputation: 10708
1. you have modern heat pump and OUTDATED t-stat
2. Heat goes UP. Can't do much about it.
3. The only way you can do zoned HVAC is with mini splits. You can do any room you want to. I just had Mitsubishi mini splits installed into our ADU and they work totally great.
4. bite the bullet, get indoor oil furnace or electric radiator heater and set in Nana's room. Whatever is cheaper in your area - oil or electricity. Wood pellet furnace is said to be a miracle too.
In general, your worst obstacle is oudated t-stat.
Heat pump has auxiliary heat strips that kick in for fast warm up when system turns on or, when heat pump can't pull enough warmth in cold temps outside. Pending how old your furnace and heat pump are, you may need to have it checked by a good tech. I had ours fixed month ago. Was running practically non stop, guy fixed it.
Good luck. take care of Nana.
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Old 10-27-2016, 07:10 AM
10,375 posts, read 4,083,513 times
Reputation: 14602
For additional space heating like in a bedroom, I use an infrared heater and I love it. It has a high and low setting to save on energy and a thermostat that really controls the temperature. It uses the same amount of electricity as those portable radiant oil filled heaters and heats much better.
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Old 10-27-2016, 07:43 AM
10,148 posts, read 13,838,845 times
Reputation: 4567
Our thermostat has a scheduler - timer. It is set to come on at 8am and go off at 8pm. The heat generated during the day easily controls the low at night. The inside temperature can get down in the low 60's or high 50's, but with the system on only 12 hours a day that is 50% of the time it is off and not using electricity.
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Old 10-27-2016, 08:05 PM
4,112 posts, read 3,447,161 times
Reputation: 8187
She might like an electric heated lap throw to use during the day.
An under layer silk knit top (ski underwear) would warm her up a lot.
The oil filled electric radiator looking space heaters work well as supplemental heat source.

Older people tend to need temperature warmer in winter. My grandmother kept her house at 78 during the winter & she and her African Violets thrived.

Last edited by historyfan; 10-27-2016 at 08:06 PM.. Reason: spell
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