EDITORIAL: Houses can keep heat by using creativity

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The other night I got home and walked into the living room to find a couch full of my roommates each looking like Kenny from “Southpark.”

It is always a feat to fit five people on the couch — so how they did it with bulky jackets and sleeping bags piled on themselves is beyond me. Had they just gotten back from a skiing trip? Are they models for Columbia’s new winter line? Were they getting ready to go out to shovel? Nope — they were simply watching television.

With the increase of natural gas prices, we insist on keeping our heat as low as we can without freezing our pipes. The idea of sharing body heat has proven to be one of the most effective heat conserving and money saving techniques we have tried.

Whenever there are two or more people sitting around in the living room, they sit next to each other and share one of the numerous sleeping bags lying around. There are disadvantages to this idea though — at least at my house. When I share a sleeping bag with one of my male roommates, it is only a matter of time before there is a fowl smell in the air and the body next to me is giggling uncontrollably. That is usually followed by, “Covered wagon!” and before I know what is happening, the sleeping bag is held over my head. Sure, it may be warmer surrounded by his natural gas — but I’d rather be freezing.

There are always the old tricks you can use to keep your heating bill lower too, like putting plastic up over the windows and blow drying it to make sure it is tight. And while you have the hair dryer out it couldn’t hurt to point it at yourself for a couple minutes to thaw out your toes.

Another way to keep your house a little warmer is to put something along the cracks at the bottom of outside doors to prevent a draft from coming in. We have found that a jacket and an old sheet will get the job done quite well. Also be sure that the vents in your house are not being blocked by a piece of furniture or something that would prevent the heat from circulating around the room. When you have tried all of these techniques and you can still see your breath, then it may be time to turn the heat up … or time to be more creative.

Body hair. It sounds gross, but it’s a great source for warmth. Try retiring your razor for awhile and find out for yourself how much warmth is added by a little leg hair or facial hair.

When cooking, I’ve found the house becomes warmer if you use the oven or stove rather than the microwave. (Those of you taking my advice on growing out facial hair may want to be careful with this one if you have a gas stove.)

I like to think that the combination of these ideas helps to keep me warmer and save me some money. Those of you in dorms or in a house where your landlord pays the utilities, I hope you appreciate your smooth, hairless skin and the advantage of smelling your roommate’s gas from the other side of the room. But keep in mind, if you will be paying your own utilities next year you may want to get a jump start on collecting sleeping bags and extra jackets.

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