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Baby, It’s Cold Inside the House

Baby, It’s Cold Inside the House

January 24, 2008

When I was purging the homeschool supply closet this past weekend, I came across some old oil bills from 2005. In January of 2005 oil was selling for $1.57 a gallon. I remember we were shocked and outraged at that price. It was double what we had been paying the winter of 2003. DOUBLE.


Here is our most recent oil bill.


Yes. It is $3.40 a gallon now.

I really have nothing else to say about it, because I am struck speechless. Much the same way when I go to the gas station and put $20 in the car only to realize when I get in and look at the gauge that it HASN’T EVEN MOVED. or maybe my lips are just frozen together.

But should decide to come over for a visit, make sure you are dressed warmly. Because at these prices we keep the heat set very low. Seeing your breathe inside the house is the new normal.

(In the interest of full disclosure I should say that we also have a wood burning pellet stove that heats the back part of the house. It is much warmer in the family room. Also, when I get really cold I can go and drape my body across it. Also, I use the oven as often as possible, to make things like this
How is that for slipping a link all sly like.)

Mmmmmm. And thus concludes the most heavily edited post I have ever written.

Posted by Chris @ 9:53 am  

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  1. lora says:

    I have heating oil too, and am freezing my rear end off every day this winter.
    Funny thing is, when I bought three years ago, I would not even consider a home without a giant oil tank in the basement. Gas and electric?, I thought. Who does that? Why pay all that money?
    I’ll be thinking of you tonight, from beneath my flannel sheets, down blankets, and thermal throws.

  2. Karen Sugarpants says:

    We pay nearly double what the States pays. 4.4 litres in a gallon - and it’s over a buck/litre for gasoline right now. Nice huh?

  3. suburbancorrespondent says:

    I insist on 2 layers top and bottom in our house. I tell the kids that I’m not spending their college money on natural gas just so they can walk around in short sleeves all winter. I mean, really! When else in the history of the world have people expected to be able to do that, anyway?

  4. Heather says:

    Ahhh, another Non-Filler-Upper. I hate to put more than 20 bucks in my car at a time. Drives my husband crazy! I’m surprised my gas light hasn’t burned out yet.

  5. Fina says:

    We got our oil tank filled yesterday so when I got home from work, just a little cranky, I saw the receipt for $404. I felt like calling the oil company and asking them just where do they expect me to come up with that type of money. The rest of the call didn’t go so well in my imagination so I decided not to call them.

  6. Melissa says:

    We don’t heat our house w/ oil, but our heating prices are through the roof as well. We too live in a very, very, cold house at the moment.

  7. chrissy says:

    That is brutal. I hope you are stocked up on hot chocolate.

  8. Amy says:

    chris. i feel for you. we have propane and the cost has gone sky high. our december bill was about $1100.00 (usually about $300) and that was for about 5 weeks of heat. the propane guy came yesterday and i was “tickled” that the bill was “only” $700. i keep inching the thermostat down, but no matter how many sweaters i have on, 58 just doesn’t feel comfortable!!

  9. Jodi says:

    My sister lives in upstate NY and recently called to rant about the cost of heating oil. She said she turned the heat OFF in her (very big) house and decided to use just the fireplace and wear more clothes. When her husband whined, she handed him a jacket.

    Of course, they only had to endure the deprivation for a couple of weeks before they flew to south FLORIDA, where they will stay until June.

    Yeah, I feel badly for them too.

  10. Lisa says:

    I just had oil delivered yesterday at $2.99/gallon, which is actually down from the $3.15 I paid last month. I’m in CT and the cold is killing me!

  11. Jamie says:

    We try to keep the heat no higher than 68, and even then we’re all freezing, but after last month’s gas bill, I’m about to head over to Goodwill to grab some sweaters and gloves for everyone.

    Chris says: 68?!?! Holy crap that is warm. We keep ours at 58. At least it gives me something to complain about on a daily basis. Also, I will be right over. You don’t mind long term guests do you?

  12. ctmommie says:

    When we first moved in to our house in July of 04, I got a new customer discount of .99 a gallon. I got a fill at the end of December and paid 3.10. Alrighty then….. we keep the heat set at 58, or when were feeling really daring 60. It goes down the 52 when we sleep. Abby

  13. Katie says:

    Brrrr! I’m so not looking forward to our next electric bill. We’re at a balmy 66 here.

  14. Caren Story says:

    I feel ya. I just had 200 gallons delivered yesterday at $3.39/gallon. That $679!!! Amazing! I hope this stuff goes down. Even our gasoline is cheaper! Why is that?

  15. Alisa says:

    I am sitting here typing with very cold fingers-we keep our house at 60 during the day and around 4 we turn it up for a little while-If anyone complains I hand them a sweater-and heavy socks. I agree these prices have skyrocketed in a short amount of time!!! Its crazy!!!!

  16. Niki says:

    When we moved into our house in 1995, we were flabbergasted at the “high” oil bill - a 500 gallon tank at about 90 cents a gallon, filled not quite twice a year if we kept it cool. We had them deliver it $100 worth at a time - all we could afford. In June of this year (of course when we don’t need it, and we’re paying A/C bills), they came and brought me just over 300 gallons with a $1000 price tag. We have been paying it off steadily, but had a notice 2 weeks ago that we were “due” and still owed on the last tank, and that they wouldn’t come until we paid, which was just fine with me. Then I came home on Friday to a notice that they had delivered another $700 worth. Meaning that we were still half full, thank you.

    We had an interesting conversation with our Korean exchange student last night about just this topic, and how things like oil cost 3 times what they did 12 years ago when we moved in, and that we certainly don’t make 3 times the salary we did back then! The only way any of our oil companies will deliver seems to be twice a year, unless you’re home every delivery to pay, and call them every time you need some.

  17. Suzy in DC says:

    I’m freezing in my house and we keep it at 71!!!

  18. SouthernBelle says:

    Man, you people make me COLD!!! We have gas heat but we keep our thermostat at about 70 during the day and 68 when we sleep. That still is cold to me. We have hard wood floors and tile in the kitchen that only makes things colder to me. We have to heaters that I keep running in the evenings just to keep warm. 58 degrees….ARGH!

  19. NoMasNinos says:

    Ours is a central air electric heater, so we keep out temperature at 62 degrees F to save money. It is no where as cold here in Central Texas as it is where you live, but could you believe it is actually more expensive to warm our house in the winter, than it is to cool it in the summer even if there are endless weeks of 100+F temperatures. I know that at 62 degree F I find it painful to get naked and shower. You guys must not be taking showers very often over there.

    Chris says: No we just stuff our clothing with newspapers and straw and wait until spring to bathe.

  20. tracey says:

    I didn’t know there were people out there like us, I keep our themostat at 64, and my husband comes home from work and turns it down to 63 or even 62 depending on how cheap he is feeling, and we have a gas furnace, not oil! People come to our house wearing heavy sweaters, and we are all too accustomed to wearing layers. At night the themostat goes down to 55, my fleece jamies and feather duvet are my best friends!

  21. JEN says:

    We’re dying here in Michigan too. Our house is 1700 sq feet and our heating bill for December was $250. That is with a programmable thermo that goes to 58 during the day 67 the rest of the time. I stay upstairs (where it is warmer) wrapped in two sweatshirts and a robe. Ugh.

  22. Lisa- Domestic Accident says:

    We heat with oil as well, but I was able to lock in my price at $2.40/gallon this year. I sent an email to everyone I knew in town and went collectively to several oil companies to campaign for a group rate. Over 50 families signed up with one company who was happy to have a whole lot of new business in a concentrated area.

    With that said, my oil bill this month was still $600. I’m pretty impressed with the thermostat set at 58 degrees. I’m from California, so I can only tolerate as low as 62 degrees- although my children I’m sure would be fine lower.

  23. Anna says:

    I feel bad for ya’ll. I have an electric heat pump and use a programmable thermostat which is set at 72 when I’m home, and drops to 60 when I’m at work. January and February are my highest heating cost months, but my bill has never been much more than $100.00 a month (I think I had $130.00 once). Anyone who wants to sleep on the world’s most uncomfortable sofa bed is more than welcome!

  24. jody says:

    I had to LOL at the newspapers and bathing in spring.

    We keep our heater at 68 during the day and 70 at night. My bill last month was $156.00 and our water/sewer/trash bill was $76. This month it has been much colder, so I imagine the electric bill will be up, but not much.

    Our winters are very mild, so it is impossible to compare the two. But it makes for a good argument to move you to a southern exposure, no?

  25. Melissa says:

    I thought I was going crazy. I looked at your post this morning, and popped back over to avoid laundry, and saw potatoes and carrots. Then I saw your “heavily edited” note. Thought I was finally losing it- LOL

  26. jen says:

    58. Ouch. We keep ours around 17C (62F), but that’s only because I have a 6mo old who is very, very skinny and so doesn’t keep body temperature well, even with 3 layers on! My son is 2.5 and he’s warm even when it’s freezing, because he doesn’t. stay. still. ever. I guess you will have the same problem? wonderful solution?! with your boys too. And of course princesses never feel the cold, so that’s all your kids sorted ;) Especially with that Wii to keep them warm :D

    We have the opposite problem here - our central heating isn’t too bad (gas fired) in the winter, and we have electric blankets, and being quite a small house by US standards, the top floor is always warm (around 22C/71.6F) due to the wonder of heat rising :) . But in the summer we spend a *fortune* on our electricity, as we have to run fans to cool down the top of the house, which gets to 33C/91.4F on a warm-ish day, without even blinking. I shudder to think. The past summer we had appallingly low temperatures, which was demoralising apart from the fact it was a lot cheaper for us in terms of fan-cooling!

  27. zarlyng says:

    My husband and I are playing a little game right now called “move the switch”. I turn the thermostat up, he turns it down. I don’t know who’s winning, but man, my feet are cold…

  28. CathyC says:

    I’ve taken to buying more fleece pullovers for my family. My 2 year old likes to wear the hood inside the house too. For affect. Or to warm her ears, whichever.

  29. Girlymom4 says:

    Our house is a big ole drafty house, I keep trying to turn the heat down, but between the runny noses, cold toes and cold tush (potty training) I have a hard time keeping it too low. These prices are insane though. Oh, here’s a good example… we have a pickup truck (gas hog) and a mini van (family car) Hubby commutes about an hour each way to work…I drive the truck with the kids. We have a family car and don’t even use it for the family- except on weekends. Pain in the a$$

  30. Laura K. says:

    Want to feel better? As an American living in Europe I was shocked at gas prices here! When I came here in 2001 the price per gallon in dollars was something like $4.50.. as of TODAY it’s (lemme go convert liters to gallons and euros to dollars brb).. $7.770928 U.S. dollars PER GALLON. So to fill an average tank here it costs… $116.56

    Do I win a prize?

    Are you shocked that we own one car that we basically only use in the winter and I don’t drive at all? I walk, bike, or bus.. and at these prices, you kinda have to!!

    It’s not unsual to see 90 yr old ladies on a bike with her basket filled with flowers or something going up a big hill.. or a 40 yr old business man in a suit on a bike with his briefcase strapped onto the back rack thing! We have our own lanes on the roads (not highway of course), and our own traffic lights. You can have a bike traffic jam.. seriously.

    I have 2 like saddle bags on my back rack (ok that is true in more ways than one hehe) to put groceries in and a baby seat on top for my 4 yr old to ride in. When our baby arrives I’ll have to do it all with a stroller.

    And then when I get home I have to carry it all up 4 flights of steps to our apartment (ugh thinking about carting a baby up th em steps at the same time.. ugh what were we thinking?!)

    As a spoiled American all this has really opened my eyes at how spoiled we Americans truly are! We don’t even have to put our own groceries in the car, someone will do it for us in America! Here you also have to bag your own and bring your own bags!

    When I’m visiting family in Iowa I’m always so GRATEFUL for all the luxuries I used to take for granted! Gosh I remember when my work was a 5 min bike ride down a hill and I took THE CAR (yeah I’m ashamed now LOL).

    What sucks about life is that with all I just told you you’d think I’d be in great shape.. but I”m the fattest I’ve ever been while eating healthier and getting all sorts of exercise. .. it’s just not fair!

  31. Penelope Anne says:

    We are using electric heaters and now the utility company called to say we have increased our usage dramatically and they wanted to be sure we were aware of that. So I don’t know if we can win.
    Our propane is less here though, but we can’t afford to catch up the bill for another refill. Next year we hope to have a solid fuel furnace put in if we buy this house.

  32. crockpot lady says:

    I am a huge, huge, huge wuss.
    I have on 3 pairs of socks and it’s 71 (so it says, I think it’s lying) in here.

  33. Fold My Laundry Please says:

    On the plus side, your oil consumption is down. 87.4 gallons for Jan 2005 down to 54.0 gallons for Jan 2008. Though with prices like that, I don’t blame you! Three cheers for our electric/natural gas combination!

    Chris says: Sadly those are not monthly bills. More like weekly bills so it just depends on the weather.

  34. Mary says:

    We also have oil heat, and we keep it set at 60. Once in a while, I nudge it up to 62 and close the bathroom door before showering to heat the bathroom up a little bit. But it is cold in our house…we wear lots of layers.

    Our house is in two zones, so we can keep the bedrooms and bathrooms a little warmer and the kitchen and living room a little cooler. But right now, my nose is a little chunk of ice getting ready to break right off my face. When I drive anywhere, I crank the heat up pretty high to make up for it!

  35. Linds says:

    I live in the UK, so like Laura K, I can only marvel at the cheap fuel in the States. Petrol (gas) is £1.05 a LITRE here, and there are 4.4l to a gallon. And I think there are $2 to a £ at the moment. I never put in more than £20 at a time, and it goes nowhere. Our heating bills are a mixture of gas and electricity, and they are up 15% as of last week, and about 40% in the last year or so. Even though our homes are tiny in comparison to the States, it costs a fortune to heat them. We now have blankets and quilts on every chair, and thank heavens my Mum, who is 82, loves crocheting blankets. They are warm lifesavers!

  36. judi says:

    we are at $3.24 a gallon for heating oil. highway robbery! you know those oil company execs are laughing all the way to the bank.
    62 degrees in our house amidst constant complaints from the kids- “i can’t do my homework because my fingers are too frozen to grip the pencil”, “i can’t fit any more seaters under my parka” etc. etc.
    but i wiill de damned if i am giving the oil company anymore of my money than is absolutely necessary.

  37. Jamie AZ says:

    When we lived in Dallas, it cost us a ton to cool our house in the summer; now we’re in Arizona and while we have the same sized house, it’s been cheaper. It’s amazing to see how much the electric company in Dallas was gouging us. Nothing like your heating oil prices, but in general, the cost to heat and cool a home has doubled in the last couple years, but our salaries haven’t… ugh!

  38. Emmy says:

    Well if you want to look on the bright side…. at least you are not standing outside in the cold! It’s -6 here. And today I have told myself to pretend the glass is half full, so at least it’s not -40. Although at those temps, can you really tell a difference? As you can see the cold air is getting to my brain cells.

  39. Lovebabz says:

    You ain’t said nothing! I did the the same comparison–by accident. I happened upon the old stack of oil bills and was shocked at what I was paying just a few short years ago…aaargh! I too have turned the thermostat down low. I remember going to other people’s houses and complaining and laughing about how cold it was—well guess what? Who has the last laugh now…they do. (sigh)

  40. genpoco says:

    We burn wood and keep the thermostat on 58, that way if we don’t wake up at 2am to feed the stove our feet won’t freeze to the floor at 6am. We had 7 cords in the barn at the beginning of the fall…we’ve probably gone through a third. Thank god my elderly and widowed mother qualified for fuel assistance this year.

  41. Burgh Baby's Mom says:

    58? Are you serious? I would never get out of bed if it were that cold in the house. NEVER!

  42. Mayberry Magpie says:

    Oh. My. God.

    I am so thankful to live in a part of the country where we heat our house with natural gas. Don’t get me wrong. We freeze our asses off here, too. But at least it doesn’t cost us a fortune and we freeze.

    But about five years ago, there was a big spike in natural gas prices and everybody’s bills doubled or tripled. I turned the thermostat down to 60 and made everybody wear a sweater. And in my smartypants Christmas newsletter, I joked that as a result of my frugality, my hubby experienced frostbite and lost a toe.

    My mom called me the day the newsletter arrived and said, “Oh my gosh, is (your hubby) okay?”

    Mom doesn’t get the whole humor thing. Especially when it comes to home heating.

  43. pickel says:

    Wow…It sure makes me glad I have gas and electric. However, with -12 degrees in Chicago it still gets cold in a drafty old bungalow. We put plastic on all of our windows and try to dial the heat down but my son, who has sensory processing dysfunction, has trouble regulating his temp so when he starts sitting in front of the vent I tend to give in and turn it up.

  44. Felicia says:

    Same here pickel. We are in chicago and I have a 16month old. I have her in of those footie pjs but her room is cold so I know it is backward but at night I crank the heat up to 75-80 and during the day I lower it to 60. We have these big windows and the sun heats up the the house, plus we are moving and running around. It is insane how everything gets more and more expensive yet, we don’t make more money.

  45. NoMasNinos says:

    It’s nice to hear you have a warm haven in your home. I know those wood burning stoves can make rooms pretty toasty. It explains why your kids will go barefoot. Although, it could just be a kid thing. My son likes to run around half naked in our cold house, when I am reluctant to even go to the bathroom and put my buns on that cold seat. The only warm haven in our house is next to the oven while I cook or in the bathroom after a hot steamy shower, which is why I never shower first. LOL

  46. t in hd says:

    Fill your car up over here. It will make you feel better, I promise! We pay around 80 Euro (around $120) to fill the tank.

    Needless to say, we bike and walk as much as possible. Everyone does here.

  47. Jennifer says:

    Please. Do not complain. You have no idea. It is so much worse in Europe.

    Most people spend close to $100 to fill up their tanks. Mine takes around $80. I drive a very, very small, very fuel-efficient car that runs on diesel.

    My heating bill? It makes me cry. I am wearing two shirts and two wool sweaters as I type this.

  48. Gettysburg Mom says:

    Three years ago we were living in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York (this part of NY is sometimes known as Canada…) in a 100 year old house. Winter in those parts arrives in October and ends in May with lots of time at -20. We had oil and electric heat, and couldn’t afford it three years ago at the much lower prices… We moved to a warmer climate, and even with the increased energy costs, we pay less now… I just can’t imagine if we still lived there…

  49. Jolyn says:

    I know I am so LATE and not with it on this comment thing, but I wanted to ask a question quite seriously — do you incorporate things like this into your homeschooling curriculum? Life-lessons and all that? (I mean, in a semi-formal way, not just a ranting ohmygodthisishighwayrobbery way.) I plan to show my 12-year-old this blog tonight to give some real-life perspective. When we were house hunting six months ago here in Ohio, we wouldn’t even consider a house that had oil heat. THANK GOD.

  50. Nicki says:

    I’m in the Netherlands, where most people heat on natural gas. It is not cheap, but when I read your stories, it seems average. For our 2000 sq feet house (which for the Netherlands is quite big), we use approx. 2200 USD worth of natural gas a year. Thermostat is at 63 degrees, 58 at night. Although prices have gone up about 60% over the past couple of years, we’ve actually been saving on gas by installing double glazing and other insulating solutions. We’ve only got one thing left to do - a special wood stove in the living room. I think our gas bill will rise again, cause I seen no way to cut even more on our usage after the stove is installed.

    Solar energy perhaps, that is a big thing in Germany and other European countries. Perhaps the time will come when oil is so expensive, it will actually pay to install the expensive solar equipment.

  51. cristen says:

    I was gonna praise you for cutting back on your usage from one year to the other, but I saw your note to Fold My Laundry Please…
    Interesting comments!
    We live in MS, so can’t/shouldn’t complain (but it sure is cold here this last week! to me, I should say–subfreezing is unusual, and there’s a sleet warning today…)

  52. Bobbie says:

    We had a pellet stove installed two years ago (we heat with natural gas). We now pay $100/month on the budget plan for the gas (I swear most of that is for heating the pool in the summer), and probably go thru 3 tons of pellets ($250/ton). We have three heating zones; the heat is only on on the main floor (62ish during the day), but the pellet stove keeps the main floor toasty. It was an investment, but we absolutely love it.

    Chris says: We love our pellet stove too. Except for when it needs repair because we seem to have gotten a lemon. We probably go through 3.5 tons of pellets a winter. But at least we feel warm near it, unlike the money we spend on oil which basically just keeps the pipes from freezing.

  53. Heather says:

    This has been so very interesting to read. I work for a major utility (gas) company and this is interesting to see what others pay for heating. My question to you Chris was how long that oil would last you, however I think you already answered by saying one week?!? Do the newer constructed homes there have gas heat? Oil just seems like such an old fashioned way of heating.

    Chris says: I don’t know of a single person who heats with anything BUT oil. And up until a few years ago it was the cheapest way to heat.

  54. Lisa says:

    When we built our log home we took heating very seriously (I am always cold) and super-insulated throughout and used really, really big logs for their insulating and passive solar qualities. We added a three-season sunroom/greenhouse on the South side of the house which basically heats up the logs during the day and releases that heat into the house at night. It really works. We have a combination of heat pump/ propane/ woodstove that we heat with. Our heating costs are pretty minimal and it get very arctic here — last week we have -25 windchill. I think so far this winter I’ve spent $300 on propane.

    I would love to build a timberframe/strawbale house for its insulating capabilities. I have a friend who built a strawbale art studio and that thing barely needs anything to heat it and it is cool as a cucumber in the summer.

    Someday I guess. After building this house I don’t have the energy for another huge project right yet.

  55. Jessica (aka Rose) says:

    I was all excited to use up a gas gift card the other day. You know, one of those $10 dealios that you get free for opening a checking account or some other such nonsense.
    It took 10 seconds for those $10 to fill up the car. I just had to laugh at the drop of gas it bought me. Then I pulled out my credit card and bought some real gas.

  56. Lexi says:

    I have a two story town home (end unit) with a basement and my home is heated with Natural Gas-all of my windows are wrapped, I change my air filter every month, my water heater is wrapped, I have all Energy Star appliances, and my thermostat was set at 66. My December bill was $216- Love those after Christmas suprises!!! SO I paid the bill and then went around my home with my OCD turned on and tuned into cutting heating costs! I purchased a warmer comforter for my bed, I turned my washer to cold only (bought cold water bleach too), adjusted my dishwasher to not dry the dishes with heat and adjusted the temp, then I turned my thermostat down to 63. Oh and note, that I have taken to showering with my boyfriend because in my warped sense of reality, 1 shower is better than 2! So the January bill arrived and it was $238!!! How could this be?? Right about now I feel like it’s back to square one!

    It’s been suggested to me that I should turn my heat off during the day. My only concern is that we have a 13wk old puppy and a cat. I know my cat will find warmth (usually among my clothes in my closet) but I don’t know how the pup will fair?! She has 2 blankets on her crate to help trap her body heat. Any ideas?? The thermostat is definitely getting cut back, but should I turn it off??

  57. dScott333 says:

    Well Another winter where the oilman commith!!
    what is going to happen in 10 to 15 yrs with all these big homes in the north?
    I live in eastern canada Nova Scotia and we get 5 to 6 months where we HAVE to have the furnace on…this year it got REAL cold during november-december so add another 6 weeks on this year at 200 dollars a week!! at best…

    so what to do …what to do??

    hot water in floor heat/with radators under every window……tyveck under new siding,new windows and doors, new insulation, all with a wood fired furnace that is 40 feet from the house in a shed that is NOT connected to the home….sounds good, and would cost about 20 grand to install (in floor heat is very easy to install in an older home with an unfinished basement) and IF this was to be done this spring, (check for govt. grants) you would get your money back within 6 to 10 yrs…..

    I paid out 4000.00 last winter…3500 this year already and I still got weeks left in febuary

  58. dScott333 says:

    OH I GOTTA tell you this one!!!!!

    I was in a hurry this mourning, I NEEDED to eat something and wanted my mourning cup of JOE to get me going…

    SO, I made my quick oats with my coffee!!! I added about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the coffee cream, but it was GREAT!!
    you have to keep adding the coffee until its runny but you get your caffene fix PLUS a meal to boot!!!