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Operation: Lower Heating Bills CHALLENGE!

Freeze Yer Buns - a lower heating bills challenge - turn down the heat!Freeze your buns – let’s revive this “lower heating bills challenge” and have fun while doing working together to lower our heat and hot water costs.

Do you live in an older house? Concerned about high heating bills?

Those two questions don’t necessarily go together, but they often do. Unfortunately far too many older homes are drafty, inefficient and difficult to heat. Of course, even if you live in an apartment, you can be concerned about the cost – and environmental impact – of heating your home. Hands up if you think you don’t pay enough in heat and hot water bills.

Ok, if you answered yes to that last question – you’re either totally on wood heat, or you live in a warm place. And while we love you, this is not a challenge for you. Don’t go away – there will be more for you in October. I promise.


As the leaves turn colour and autumn begins here in Nova Scotia, my family is in the process of moving into a large century-old home in a little village. It’s my dream house in so many ways – except for that heat and hot water bill.

The previous owner was spending $450 each month, all year, for heat and hot water.

Since I’d like to afford groceries and shoes for my children, my goal is to keep that to about half of that.

As soon as I publish this, someone is going to tell me that they’re paying $500, 600 or even $800 each month on heat or hot water. My only response to that is “It’s too much!” If your heat and hot water bills are that high, you really need to get involved with this challenge.

This is going to be an interesting challenge. But let’s be honest – I’ve spent three years in a drafty, barely habitable cabin in the woods, even though most people thought we wouldn’t get through our first winter.

If you are interested in my rather lengthy list of various ways to lower utility bills, you can check it out here. Many of these can’t be implemented this year because we’re just moving in and, winter is rapidly approaching.

And so I’m launching a challenge – and I hope many of you will join in with me.


Once a long time ago, a blog called Crunchy Chicken would hold a Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. Alas, her site appears to be no more and the last challenge I can find was in 2010. (If it still active, but under a different name, let me know and I’ll link to her) However, the challenge was quite simple – set your thermostat as low as you can throughout the winter, and stick to it. Crunchy ran her challenge from November 1 until April 1, I believe, but winter is coming on fast this year in Nova Scotia. So I’m starting now, October 1!

Please, please, please use common sense. If your elderly parent lives with you (or you ARE the elderly parent) and can’t move around much, you absolutely can not keep the temperature as low as a household of young, healthy, active people. If you have infants, you must keep them warm. If someone in your household has health issues that make a cooler temperature dangerous, or if someone comes down with an illness like the flu or pneumonia, turn up the heat.  Perhaps you’ll use space heaters instead of heating the entire house, but do keep them warm enough.

Also, do not lower your temperature to the point where pipes will freeze. Frozen pipes are a big deal.

You are only competing against yourself!

Here is my personal challenge:

  • We have set up a budget for 3600 litres of heating fuel for the next twelve months. That’s considerably less than normal for a house of that size in this area, so it’s already a challenge. That works out a locked-in cost of $270 per month all year.
  • If we go OVER that amount, we pay a premium. There’s no money in my budget for paying a premium for heating oil.
  • My goal is to get our usage to 3000 litres or less for the year. Any pre-paid amount (at 2016 prices) will be then applied to next year’s account. So I win coming and going – as long as I use less than 3600 litres.
  • We will be setting the thermostat at 62-65F/16-18C during the day and 55F/13C at night or whenever no one is home.  In the mountain cabin, the bedrooms sometimes got as low as 44F/6C at night, so the children might actually find that too warm! (As a note – if I can convince the family to lower it below 62F/16C, I will!)

Would you like to join me? The challenge starts October 1, 2016, but you can jump in any time (especially if cold weather starts in November or December for you!) Let us know in the comments below.

YOU decide where your thermostat will be set, but make sure it’s something challenging.

Again, don’t set it too low if you have vulnerable people in your home – the very old and the very young have difficulty regulating their own body heat. And certainly don’t lower the heat to the point where your pipes will freeze! (I’ll be posting later on how to find the lowest safe temperature for your situation.)

Leave a comment below, making sure that it’s in the Facebook tab AND that you’ve clicked the button to have it appear on Facebook. That way we can keep track of who is involved. This is intended to be fun and supportive.

Are you in? Are you ready to freeze yer buns? Please share this post and invite your friends to join in. The best way to share (I mean, other than those lovely share buttons) is actually to leave a comment under FACEBOOK down below, and click “Also post on Facebook”. Your friends will see your comment and they can easily come and join the challenge.

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Please feel free to share anything on this site, in full or in part, with the following requirements: 1) all links MUST be left intact except by written permission 2) the excerpt or reprint MUST link back to the referring page, 3) the following author bio MUST be included: Marie has homesteaded in the city, in an off-grid cabin in the deep woods, and now in a 130-year old house in a village near her hometown. She is the author of A Cabin Full of Food, available on Amazon and loves to interact with her community on Facebook.