Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Gassiest Month Is Yet to Come

This article is from the February issue of Daegu Compass.

I just got my January gas bill: a whopping 47 bucks.  Not entirely unreasonable considering that some people spend double that per month on phone bills, but then again, it’s just slightly less than what I spent in total from May through December.  Not to mention that last year I apparently used twice as much gas in February as in January, meaning that next month I may have to fork over 100 bucks.  That’s five percent of my salary, or the equivalent of 20 meals out at my favorite restaurant.  I’ve been wracking my brain, and my friends’, for ways to avoid such a catastrophe.  Here’s what we’ve come up with:

1    -  Window blockers.    Everyone knows better than to leave windows open, but sometimes even double-paned windows that are locked tight still let in a bit of a breeze.  If this is the case in your place, and if you’ve got access to the area outside your window, consider putting up one of these plastic sheets that keep the cold out and the heat in.  You can buy them at HomePlus (usually around the automotive section), and all they take to install is some tape and a hairdryer.  You’ll feel the difference immediately.

              (also keeps pesky thieves out)

     -  Limit the area you heat.  If you live in a studio, lucky you, you can ignore this one, but if you’ve got spare rooms, go have a look at your boiler. You can remove the metal case covering the pipes that come out of the bottom, fiddle with some valves, and turn off the heating to the rooms you don’t use. It may take you a few tries to figure out exactly what’s what, but a cold shower or two never hurt anyone, right?

1) get rid of this sheath guy

2)  ascertain the proper valve, perhaps making reference to:

From 12 o'clock, counterclockwise:
드레인 = drain
오버풀로우 = overflow
난방필터 = heating filter
난방환수 = something about hot water circulation
냉수입구 = cold water entrance
온수출수 = hot water exit (for faucets, shower, etc)
난방출수 = hot water exit (for floor heating)
(this is the one you'll most likely need to fiddle with)
가스입고 = gas entrance

4) close. 

5) daydream about ways to spend all the money you've just started saving

3    -   Speaking of which, if you’re daring enough, incorporate more cold into your shower.  Your hair and head aren’t all that sensitive, so it’s definitely possible to do your shampoos cold, provided you contort your body just-so and avoid getting it wet. 

4    -  Get low, go local.  Forget couches, beds, and dining room tables.  Eat, sleep, and play on the floor, closest to the source of the heat. 

      -  Turn down the temperature.  This should be a no-brainer, but just in case: have a look at what you’re wearing .  If you’re in your underwear, something’s wrong.  High temperature differentials make the outside feel colder, and also make you more likely to catch colds.  20C (68F) is the suggested indoor winter temperature in many parts, but I’ve found that guests don’t start complaining until about 17C (63F), and even as low as 13C (55F) is bearable for someone as stingy and environ-mental  as myself.

      -  Layer up!  Again, common sense, but sometimes the convenience of pushing the “up” button a few times makes us forget that it’s just as easy to put on another pair of socks.   Or two.  I recently discovered that it’s entirely possible to wear two hoodies simultaneously, and have even received a few compliments on the look.  (Admittedly, that may say more about my usual attire than about anything else.)  Long undies, parkas, and gloves aren’t only for the slopes. 

      -   Eat hot food.  If you consider yourself culilnarily adventurous, take the opportunity to try your hand at porridges, roasted or steamed veggies, soups, and stews.

There are surely a ton of other strategies out there – if you’ve got any to share, don’t hesitate to drop a comment or visit the the Daegu Green LivingFacebook group.

Stay warm!


  1. Great tips! I've been doing the two hoodie things for years, but no one has complimented me on the look... =(

  2. You're not wearing the dirtier hoodie on the outside, are you? Rookie mistake ^^

  3. Copied from a Facebook comment by Josh, this is definitely something people should be aware of:

    My gas bill for January - 175,000...
    Why, you ask? Well it's because I was unaware that there are two kinds of thermostats. The first is more modern (the one in my old apartment at Woobang). It senses the ambient air temperature and turns on and off according to what temperature you choose. For example, I set my room temperature to 23, so if it dips below that, the ondol will turn on until the temperature hits 23 again. The second, older type (like the one in my current apartment) allows you to set the temperature to which the boiler will heat the water, and the amount of time per hour that it will pump that water through the flooring. For example, I can set the water to 60 degrees and pump it through the floor for 20 minutes of every hour. This type DOES NOT shut off, regardless of room temperature. Knowing the difference will save a bundle. Be aware of what type you have, and how it functions to maximize your savings, or in my case, avoid costly mistakes.

  4. As usual, Sharon Astyk has good things to say: