Growing up, my best friend Shelby's parents were very budget-conscious. They were always looking to cut down on wasteful spending, particularly during the winter months when the heating bills went way up.
They lived in a big old house that could be drafty from time to time, and Shelby's dad was particularly avid about attempting to reduce their already high heating costs.
Rather than make the family suffer in a chilly house, though, Mr. Brown had other plans. He closed off their big second living room that was filled with windows and left the manual thermostat set very low during the winter. This way, he was able to ensure that the other parts of the house were nice and warm without having to pay to heat up this space which he referred to as an "energy black hole".
The rule was, that if you went into the cold living room, you weren't allowed to turn the heat on, but there was a portable electric heater in one of the corners that you were allowed to turn on for the duration of the time that you were in there.
Now that I'm responsible for paying my own heating bills, I can appreciate Mr. Brown's plan for reducing the energy used in his house. I'm sure they were able to save a lot of money by choosing not to heat their entire house, and were able to be warmer as well.
When it comes to saving money during the winter, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that you stay warm while keeping costs down, but this is one of the smartest solutions I have heard of for a big house.