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It gets down to around freezing in the winters here, so this is something of a problem.
I have two primary sources of heat. The first, which I use on a daily basis, but only for an hour or two at a time, is the kerosene heater. This is pretty standard. It's a small unit, and it can heat up my living room quite easily, or my living room and kitchen with a bit more difficulty. But, once I turn it off, it starts getting cold rather quickly again. I usually leave it set between 17 and 19 degrees centrigrade. I program it to turn on about a half hour before I wake up, so I can eat breakfast in a warm room. It's off during the day, and then I run it for a few hours in the evening after work. On the weekend, it tends to run for longer, as I'm home more.
It's powered by kerosene, which I buy at the gas station using a 20-litre plastic can. I usually go through four or five cans over the course of the winter.
My other primary source of heat is the kotatsu table. This is a coffee table with a detachable top and a small heating element underneath. In winter, you remove the top, and sandwich a comforter between it and the lower layer. This drapes down over the edges, forming a tent, and the underside of this tent is heating economically with the small electric heater. I sit under this at all times, unless I'm cooking, bathing, using the toilet, or sleeping. It helps quite a bit, and when combined with heavy clothing, makes the lack of proper heat much more tolerable.
At night, I try to get by with no heat. Instead, I have a small electric blanket, which I put under my futon cushion. Combined with several heavy blankets above me, this is enought to keep me warm through the night. Last year, though, I was sick for all of December and January, so I ended up running a small electric fan heater and a humidifier while I slept. I think that managed to keep the room above 10 degrees most of the time. I will try to do without that this year.
In the mornings, I also run the small heater in the bathroom while I am showering, so that I don't freeze to death getting out of the shower.
My water is heated by a gas heater of some sort, of the flame-on-pipes variety. I usually leave it set to 36 degrees, and try to turn it off during the day and overnight.
These heating arrangements are not too different from those commonly used by Japanese families. In general, building insulation seems to be unknown in this country, and central heating an extreme rarity.
For winter, some heater has to be bought indeed. Winter temperatures do not go below zero much, but high humidity makes you shiver. On weekdays, I usually come home late like you. Last winter I often kept heater fan on low at night, to keep myself just about healthy - I'm going to do better the coming season.
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