Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love Halloween, spiced cider, comfy sweatshirts, and crisp, sunny days. Really, there's only one thing about fall that I find objectionable and that is that it leads into winter! These are the months to hunker down and feather the nest in preparation for dropping temps.

Heating bills are among my least favorite bills because they seem spiteful. It's like they're saying, "Oh, you think this fee is ridiculous? Buck up and put on another sweater, cheap-o!" I am in control of cost, so long as I deny myself comfort. And that stinks, because I really enjoy the simple things in life, like... being cozy in my own house! 

Well, I've learned to live with the thermostat set to 63 degrees. Even at that, heating my modest row-home with gas heat is astronomically expensive. I realize I don't have the most energy-efficient home, and regrettably, I don't have the means to replace windows and doors and the like. Here are some band-aid ideas I've utilized over the past few winters to get through the frigid months with my sanity and core body temperature intact: 

Make your couch a nest. First of all, I make sure all of my fall/winter throws and blankets are out of storage and freshly laundered. I have a bunch of flannel throws (seasonal and cute, of course) that do the trick through about November. But when the thermometer dips below freezing, I pull out the big guns and break out a twin sized comforter solely for sofa use.  

Have hoodies and knock-around sweatshirts at the ready. Before you reach for that thermostat dial, reach for something snuggly first. The important thing is to have a store of these pieces within arms length. I was so lazy that instead of running upstairs to fetch a hoodie I would just turn up the heat. These days I have a few wall hooks downstairs on which to hang go-to warm up items. 

Have pets? Cuddle with them! This is the cutest piece of advice there is (and I recommend cuddling at all times of the year)! Honestly though, we have an embarrassing number of cats and they are miniature heaters when they park themselves on your lap (or chest or neck or face, depending on where they prefer to settle). Cats + couch + comforter = happiness and warmth. 

Microwavable slippers. Yep, that's right. My feet in the winter often feel like blocks of ice, and it's impossible to feel warm otherwise in such a state. This ingenious invention features beanbag inserts that you can heat up in the microwave and slide into the soles of the slippers. They're not easy to walk in, but they are my secret weapon against freezing feet. 

When all else fails... I pay off any accrued balances with my federal tax refund. I hate to play this game but I know in my city they do not issue shut off notices for heat until spring. By that time I have already completed my tax return and have my refund in hand, well in advance of any danger of cut off. It's not an ideal situation, but it's gotten me by in times of crisis.  

How have you folks managed to cope with the staggering costs of home heating? I am all ears for any tips that might make the winter months more bearable! 

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Stacey Pavlick

Stacey is a participant in the CareOne Debt Management Plan, soon to complete her second year on the plan. She is also a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and Single & Settling In blog. She is currently an operations manager for a title insurance company and moonlights as a music reviewer for SpectrumCulture.com. She combines her passion for writing with her passion for getting out of debt to share her struggles and successes along the way. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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