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Winter in Chicago is no joke, okay? Last year, we went four straight days without breaking zero degrees. As you might imagine, our gas bill was pretty out of control last winter. This winter, we’re making saving money one of our top priorities — plus you know, after our big trip, it’s not like we’re going to have a lot of money lying around.

Got this when I Googled “save money this winter.” Isn’t it precious?

Before I tell you how we’re going to save money, you should know a few key facts:

  1. We don’t own our home.
  2. Though we’re a double income household, one of us works from home.
  3. Our heat and water run on gas. Everything else is electric.

So that’s what you need to know.

With all that in mind, here’s what we plan to do to prevent having to pay through the nose for heating and gas this winter:

  • Keep things uncomfortably chilly.

I want sweet wallpaper like that.

I’m one of those annoying people who prefers my home to be uncomfortably cold at all times. Like 64 degrees, cold. My personal philosophy is that if you’re too cold, you can just put on a sweater or some socks or something. Also, our home is two floors and made almost entirely of concrete, so we end up with random cold spots in our house. During the winter, I usually work upstairs where it’s a little bit warmer. If I have to work downstairs, I plug in the world’s oldest, janky-est space heater to get the room warm.

  • Close off cold zones in the house.

If only my cold zone looked so friendly.

The two coldest rooms in our house are our bathroom and the guest room/office. Last year, we (stupidly) thought that keeping the doors open would help the rooms warm up. That was clearly wrong. This year, we plan to keep the doors to those rooms shut when we aren’t using them. Hopefully, this will help us keep the heat from running around the clock.

  • Change the filters on schedule.

We change the filters every six weeks because if we go any longer, they get really disgusting. (Bunny fur, construction dust, etc. etc. etc.) In the winter though, we try to change the filters once a month. The cleaner the filters are, the more efficient our heater runs.

  • Seal the doors and windows.

I need a cute draft stopper.

We have two doors to our house — an internal front door that opens into a hallway and an external backdoor that opens onto a fire escape. Once it starts to get really cold, we seal up the backdoor and try to avoid using it whenever possible. We’re also looking into ways to keep our windows well-insulated. We’re lucky that our house came with new double-paned windows, but I’m sure that there are things we can do (with no structural modifications) to keep the heat in and the cold out. Any ideas?