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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-29-05, 11:34 AM   #1
SpokesInMyPoop
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Concerns about oil...

I know many of you (myself included) don't use a car/own one, but the rise of oil prices is projected to affect us all in costs of basic necessities.

To the point, I have concerns about winter and oil prices. I'm hoping that there are people here who are familiar with what I'm about to lay down:

I live in a 2 bedroom apartment, and I was thinking of alternative ways to keep my home warm this winter. I was thinking of using psuedo insulation by padding my walls with cardboard and eggcrate foam, and maybe having a portable heater to carry around the house where ever I go.

Any suggestions? Ideas??
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Old 08-29-05, 11:41 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpokesInMyPoop
padding my walls with cardboard and eggcrate foam, and maybe having a portable heater to carry around the house where ever I go.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Ask your local fire marshal.
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Old 08-29-05, 11:44 AM   #3
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Buy a scarf.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:44 PM   #4
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Since I was also concerned about fire safety, I chose an inexpensive electric space heater from either Lowe's or Home Depot (I forget which). It's shaped like a small radiator. The heating elements are not exposed. It puts out the same amount of total heat, but there's no part of it that's hot enough to catch anything on fire.

Resistance heating with electricity is expensive, but I save quite a bit overall because at night I'm only warming up a small bedroom instead of a large apartment.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:44 PM   #5
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yeah, eggcrate is highly flammable and cardboard will attract bugs plus make you look a bit kooky.

Try a sweater.

Or hook a bike trainer in the living room to a truck alternator and wire it to a 12 v heating element... Between you and the heater should keep the place warm.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:51 PM   #6
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I don't know about carrying a portable heater around, because re-heating a room is very expensive in terms of energy. So moving around with this thing as you go might be very expensive.

I suggest you maintain your rooms at a chill temperaure and adjust with some warm clothes, or comfort blanket when sitting at the couch/computer.

A good trick on isolation: windows (unless high quality) will acount for most of the cold air comming in from outside. They sell by-the-meter plastic film at most hardware store that you can use to put over the windows and seal it up.

Insulating foam around doors helps a lot too
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Old 08-29-05, 12:58 PM   #7
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Check the seals around your windows and doors. If possible turn off the heat to the bedrooms and keep the bedroom doors shut. It doesn't get cold enough where you are to need heat in a bedroom and you'll sleep better under a half dozen warm blankets too. Cut the thermostat back to 60 or so and get used to wearing comfy warm clothes inside.

I knew a family near Buffalo, NY that only heated the kitchen and bathroom of their home. They kept the kitchen just warm enough so the pipes wouldn't freeze but kept the bathroom nice and toasty. It was a little weird but they saved a ton of money.
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Old 08-29-05, 01:05 PM   #8
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I assume you are planning of sealing up the windows with heavy plastic?

My friends and I were hardcore for the last couple of years and it paid off.
We waited as long as posssible to turn the heat on, kept doors shut and heat off whenever we were not home, wore lotsa clothes and drank warm beverages, hung blankets over doorways, etc.

Truely it was like we were squatting. If you can invest in a timer-thermostat, you can get some heat going in the morn to get you out of bed.

You should be able to get by with little heat in pdx.
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Old 08-29-05, 01:43 PM   #9
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Geez man, it's not that bad yet! Just keep the thermostat low, wear sweaters and thick socks, and make sure the blinds are open when the sun is shining.
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Old 08-29-05, 02:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpokesInMyPoop
I know many of you (myself included) don't use a car/own one, but the rise of oil prices is projected to affect us all in costs of basic necessities.

To the point, I have concerns about winter and oil prices. I'm hoping that there are people here who are familiar with what I'm about to lay down:

I live in a 2 bedroom apartment, and I was thinking of alternative ways to keep my home warm this winter. I was thinking of using psuedo insulation by padding my walls with cardboard and eggcrate foam, and maybe having a portable heater to carry around the house where ever I go.

Any suggestions? Ideas??
I'm making some assumptions here. I'm assuming:
. you rent, not own the apartment (so beefing up the insulation or windows is not an option)
. the apartment is heated by oil or natural gas
. the heating to your apartment is separate from your neighbours (really does you no good to freeze yourself if the heating bill is joint and just split amongst the units)
. you can control the temperature of the central heating in your apartment.

You don't say how your apartment is configured with respect to other apartments whether you may get residual heat from the other apartments or common areas. Are you on the top floor? Most heat loss in a building is through the roof not the walls.

You could keep the temperature of the apartment on the low side and then use an electric space heater in the room you are in if electricity is significantly cheaper than the central heating source. You could hang heavy tapestries on exterior walls but I really don't think the aesthetic blahs of cardboard and foam are worth the heat savings you would realize.

Practically I would,
. Keep the thermostat lower when you aren't home or you are sleeping
. Put plastic sheeting over the windows if they are particularly drafty
. Seal up any sources of drafts

If the apartment is particularly inefficient with respect to heat (uninsulated walls, windows etc.) and the heating bills are particularly expensive, move... find another apartment with better insulation, with heat costs included so they aren't a variable mystery, or buy a place where you can make improvements to the insulation levels by having more blown in where needed.
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Old 08-29-05, 09:53 PM   #11
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I"m in the same boat, except I own an 1100 square feet house (not including basement). I have a 50 year old oil furnace that seems to suck oil like no tomorrow. Besides my plan to put in more insulation, today I was looking into natural gas stoves, i.e. fireplaces. They seem to heat pretty efficiently, and I guess natural gas is slightly better than oil. Anyone have any experience heating houses with gas stoves?
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Old 08-29-05, 10:54 PM   #12
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just wear layers. the coldest it gets here is about 10F at night but for here that only happens about 4 times a year. i just always have on some thermal underwear and when i read i just cover up with a good fleece throw. light candels this will put out a little light and heat. also use your windows open the blinds our curtains. the sun makes a wonderful heater. as far as your idea it sounds to hazardous. tea, coffee, cocoa will help as well. i admire your thought for saving energy and wish you good luck
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Old 08-29-05, 11:53 PM   #13
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Spokes, you can always get a "widder electric vest" type thing, like motorcyclists use, wear that, and plug it in at computer desk etc mainly at night when it's cold a human being is either at their computer, their TV, or in a fave chair to read a book. I'm considering just going with an electric blanket this year, I'm in the Bay Area and sure it gets down to freezing, but that's about it.

Just look for drafts around your windows etc and if you insulate, use stuff that's fire marshal approved, read up on it, do it right and use the right stuff. Fire's cool but not cool when it's burning your place up lol.

For me, to keep warm, I just turn all my test equipment on! whoohoo!! Heating by Hewlett-Packard!

Good ultimate cheap warm clothes, get army camoflage pants and wear generic sweats under 'em, those army pants are about the best designed ever, and you can wear salvation army sweats underneath and not have your motion restricted. Very comfy!
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Old 08-30-05, 11:19 AM   #14
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We have gas heat but have done without gas for two years. We use oil-filled radiator-style heaters upstairs, one in our (wife and I) room and one in my son's room. These are highly recommended since they don't make noise and I think the oil doesn't use much electricity to stay warm once it gets to operating temperature.

It hasn't really been that bad but it does get kind of old in late March and early April when I get tired of being cold. Our gas supplier, Vectran, is a total rip-off so we're like screw 'em.
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Old 09-04-05, 02:57 AM   #15
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How about a space heater that is connected to a small generator which is powered by your stationary bike? Exercise, and heat the apartment at the same time!
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Old 09-04-05, 03:27 AM   #16
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OK here's a sneaky little trick, get a plug-in heating pad, and put that in your bed. It really makes a difference!

I seem to remember reading something about an old Finnish trick being doing a bunch of push-ups before getting into bed, warms you up then you stay warm I guess is the idea.
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Old 09-04-05, 03:38 PM   #17
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I would be pretty careful about tacking anything up on the walls. I used to be a teacher and the janitor would go into fits anytime we hung stuff up in our classrooms. We needed to go out and spray the kid's projects down with flame retardent spray before we hung them up - I guess the fire marshall really gave him grief over it and we all felt his wrath in the end.

In college my room mates and I used to have a contest, of sorts, to see who would turn the heat on first. The main thing was whomever touched the thermostat first got their rent "pro-rated" that month. The only exception to the rule was when the outside temp dropped below 40 degrees and we had to worry about pipes freezing- which would have cost us even more money. I have very vivid memories of wearing hats and gloves around the place while wrapped up in every piece of Capaline underwear I owned.

As far as real ways to stay warmer, I would first look into those window insulation kits- they look like plastic wrap and go on with tape and a hair dryer. They really work and are a temporary fix for a place that you don't own, and don't want to pay to insulate.

The other thing I can recommend is a humidifier. Adding humidity to winter air will make it feel much warmer than it really is. One place I lived we did this by palcing open trays of water next to the heat outlets. A real humidifer would work better.

Otherwise, wearing a ski hat is always a cheap way to add a little extra warmth.

Jon
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Old 09-04-05, 04:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtn Mike
I"m in the same boat, except I own an 1100 square feet house (not including basement). I have a 50 year old oil furnace that seems to suck oil like no tomorrow. Besides my plan to put in more insulation, today I was looking into natural gas stoves, i.e. fireplaces. They seem to heat pretty efficiently, and I guess natural gas is slightly better than oil. Anyone have any experience heating houses with gas stoves?
My small apartment is heated with a little natural gas heater that sticks out into the living room and is vented out through the wall. We're talking some pretty outdated technology here!
Pros: It keeps the apartment comfortable, even in sub-zero weather. It is funky and unusual, which gives it a certain charm. It makes a big WHOOOSH! noise when it lights, kinda cool.

Cons:It takes up a lot of living space. We have to be careful not to get flammable or meltable objects near it. Some worries about carbon monoxide -- you need a detector, IMO. It makes a big WHOOOSH! noise when it lights, kinda scary.
Since you own your house, it might make more sense to replace your oil furnace with a modern efficient natural gas furnace. I have read that they pay for themselves pretty quickly with savings in energy costs.
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Old 09-05-05, 02:38 PM   #19
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How about a sweater? Maybe warm/lined pants, or long johns, would work too...
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Old 09-05-05, 06:14 PM   #20
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natural gas is gonna get even more expensive than oil very quickly more than likely, its in short supply too
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Old 09-05-05, 07:00 PM   #21
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Around here (Maine) the hardware store stocks coils of little clay tubing, about 1/4" in diameter, that you peel off and apply to the edges of your windows, between the moving part and the frame, where the draft comes in. Easy to remove in the spring, and leaves no mark. Seems to help some. Also, we have some thick thermal curtains that we put over the downstairs windows, and even the front door. And if you have a big house, close all the doors you can at night, especially on the upper floors, so the draftier rooms don't suck heat from the area where the thermostat is.
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Old 09-06-05, 02:11 PM   #22
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I'm back again... had a back injury when I posted this, and couldn't get back on the net (took a week off of work; don't have net access @ home).

I live in an older apartment in portland. The heating in our units are electric (baseboards). I was told the insulation in our complex isn't that great, and a few tenants paid hefty electric bills last winter (it didn't get too cold, either).

2 winters ago (the ice storm winter), I wore layers, drank lots of tea and cocoa, and huddled under blankets. I would take that same approach (much like Lala, we lived in a punk house fulla squatters), but I honestly can't see my gf sticking it out like that.

For now, we have a space heater, a electric warming pad, and hot water bottles. I just wish I could have a wood stove of some sort! And if I could get a bike trainer and hook it up to a heater, that'd be awesome (kind of like that kid who made a cell phone charger out of his hamster's wheel), but I'm not inclined to do so

I want to tackle this as soon as I can, instead of waiting winter to come around. Thanks for all the suggestions

Then again, I suppose I could use my lighter, eat a buncha gassy foods, wait a few for it to digest-
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Old 09-06-05, 04:03 PM   #23
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I live in a 1bdr and hardly ever use my base board heat in winter. I just were thermal underwear and other heavy clothes. People are so spoiled these days.
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Old 09-06-05, 04:20 PM   #24
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"find another apartment with better insulation, with heat costs included so they aren't a variable mystery,"

you can also inquire into average utility bills (if someone has electric heat, most of their heat bill is usually electric heat) by calling up the utility company. I know this because I worked for a large electric company, and a lot of people (including realtors) were in the habit of calling us to ask after the average bill at a particular place. I know they were asking the same thing of the gas companies, too.
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Old 09-18-05, 01:14 AM   #25
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Keep your head warm.
Wear a dickey or turtleneck to keep your neck warm.
Wear merino wool (doesn't itch) next to your skin: socks, tights, long sleeve jersey.
Dress in layers.
A down vest keeps your trunk warm without confining use of your arms.
If sitting in one place for a while, place an electric heating pad (on low) next to your lower back. It will warm your kidneys and therefore all the blood circulating in your body.
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