Heat cost – Tips for reducing yours
After seeing my home heating cost at more than $400 last month, I decided to take some drastic action to reduce our overall heating cost. Right now, I just don’t have the budget to make major changes like moving to a more energy efficient heat-pump or converting to a different source of heat like propane or oil, but I did find a number of minor changes I could make to help reduce my heating cost.
Based on the comments I received on my Propane, Electricity, or Oil – Which one is cheaper? I’m guessing many of you are in the same situation and have high heat bills as well. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a great deal of reading and research on tips for reducing overall heating cost and thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned thus far:
Install Programmable Thermostats – While this particular tip won’t help me too much, for many it can result in significant money savings over time. Set your heat to a lower temperature just before you go to bed and to automatically warm up before you wake up. If you work out of the home, additionally set the thermostat to lower temperature while you’re away, and have it warm up before you return home.
Additionally, if you have multiple floors and separate heating units, you can have the thermostats adjust based on where in the house you are during the day and evening. In our old house, we lowered the temperature on both floors at night, and during the day kept the temperature upstairs low and raised the temperature downstairs.
Again, this tip won’t help me too much as we pretty keep our house thermostat set on 66 and we only have one heating unit. We use our propane gas fireplace to warm the main level up.
Sealing your house to completely remove drafts is the number one tip recommended by all heating specialists. An amazing amount of heat can be lost through gaps in insulation around doors and windows.
There may be better ways, but to for check for drafts I use a simple candle. Just run the flame close to the seals on doors and windows and watch the flame. I currently have a few that literally blow the candle out! To solve these problems, install new weather stripping. This is a job that is very easy to do and only takes a few minutes.
Another source of heat loss is electrical outlets. Foam insulators for electrical outlets are available that will stop any air coming in or out through your outlets. Installing these along with replacing weather stripping is my project for this weekend!
Our new home has a basement, and based on my research a significant amount of home heat loss is through the basement, even if it’s not heated like ours. I found a product by Dow called Wallmate that is specifically designed for insulating basements. Given my home office is in our partially finished basement, I’m going to be investigating the cost of Wallmate this weekend as well. It looks easy to install and the 2″ version has an R value of 10. Compared the R value 1 on my concrete cinder block walls, it should make a huge difference. We also have sheet rock wall separating our storage room from the garage, and it’s completely not insulated. I’ll be fixing this as well over the weekend with some inexpensive fiberglass insulation.
Seal off unused windows with plastic
We have number of windows downstairs in the basement area that we don’t use (i.e. look through). Another project for this weekend will be to cover the windows with plastic to completely seal them off. While not a pretty solution, it works. Just cut the clear plastic to fit the window frame and use Duct tape to keep it in place and seal it up. Using clear plastic is important as you still want to let the sun in so you can take advantage of that free solar energy to help warm the room up. Like I said, i’ts not pretty but nobody really goes in our basement except us anyway.
Close off unused rooms
During the day, we spend very little time in our master bedroom and have a guest room that is never really used unless we have visitors. During the day, we close off the heating vents in the rooms and keep the doors shut. This further increases the heat to the rooms we’re in and makes the heat pump more efficient as it has to heat less square feet. We also close off the bathrooms, and closets that have heat vents as well.
There are lots of little creative things you can do to help as well. Here are just a few:
- Sunlight - Open curtains and blinds that have direct sunlight coming through them, and closing off curatains and blinds for shaded windows. This will allow the heat in and keep the cold out.
- Radiant heaters – My parents keep the heat in their house very low, and use radiant heaters to heat the rooms they are in.
- Oven Heat – Using the oven to cook dinner? After you remove your meal and turn off he oven, leave he door open to allow the heat out into the room. If you have kids, this is not a tip I would advise using.
- Use Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans can really make a huge difference. In the winter, run them backwards to distribute heat around the room. Heat rises and will sit up towards the ceiling. Using the ceiling fan will bring the heat down to wear you are.
Of course these are just a few of the many tips available and the one’s we’re currently using. Add your tips below. What things to do you do to help keep your heat cost down? Let me know, I need all the help I can get!!
Photo by: dotbenjamin