Their teeth are chattering and their budgets are bursting like frozen pipes.
In nippy Dixie, some are dialing down the thermostats, then dressing in layers — inside their homes — and inviting pets into their beds to share the warmth, cursing their power bills as “hate mail.”
In the arctic northeast, some are canceling vacations, shelving clothes shopping, and even — horror of horrors — buying cheap wine, while fully admitting these are “first world problems.” But from north to south, scores of Americans are finding innovative ways to slash spending as they shovel more bucks into utility costs amid the nasty cross winds of soaring home-heating prices and blistering cold snaps.
“Dinners out? What IS that?!” asks Susie Quick, a resident of Midway, Ky., who is purposely injecting a chill into her home and her spending due to a monthly power bill that’s leaped from $90 to $300. Several southern states recently have shivered through the lowest temperatures in years.
“I walk around my house like a lumberjack in layers of silk underwear, plaid flannel shirt, down vest, scarf, hat, sweater leggings and furry faux UGGs. I only wish I could grow a beard for added warmth,” said Quick, who lives on a horse and cow farm, and who works as a medical editor at the University of Kentucky. Her house is electrically heated.
On recent nights, she’s been allowing her 45-pound coonhound and two cats to sleep with her — “if there was room for my horse, I’d bring him in, too.” As for food, she’s a “non-elective vegan” but said she can’t afford “pricey” fake meat like tofu hot dogs and tempeh burgers. Instead, she dines on rice and beans, and greens. Going to a hair salon is too expensive so she’s become “my own amateur hair stylist and colorist and I’m really afraid it shows.”
“I have three rooms shut off with towels down at the door bottoms to prevent drafts. My furniture is also lumberjack-chic and covered in blankets and throws. I refuse to succumb to a Snuggie, though a Thuggie has appeal. So House Beautiful this is not,” said Quick, who refers to her heating bills as “hate mail.”