In our neck of the woods, winters are a bit rough. We get over 200 inches of snow (sometimes over 300!) a winter and the temps are often in the single digits. That means our heating bills are often higher than I’d like so we try to do what we can to get them down a bit. Here’s our gameplan:
Turn the Heat Down – I have read from multiple places that it is recommended that your thermostat should be set at 68° F. Our goal will be to have it at 63° F during the day when my husband and I are home and my son is at school. Some say that lowering the termostat by 1° F can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat your home by one to three percent. Since we are lowering it by five degrees, we’ll hopefully save a bit more. When my son gets home, it will increase to 66° F degrees.
Use Our Programmable Thermostat – Anytime you ask people for something that you can do to save on heating costs, installing a programmable thermostat is one of the first things mentioned. We purchased one last year and it helped a lot. Before the programmable thermostat, I would manually turn down the heat at night and quite a few times I’d go to bed and forget to turn it down. Having it automatically switch is very nice.
Clean Our Furnace Filter Monthly – I never think about that darn filter downstairs. But this winter, we are going to mark change dates on the calendar so we make sure it is changed. A clean furnace filter results in a happy, efficient furnace.
Keep Doors Closed – Thanks to our in-laws, we have some nice new doors to get us through this winter. Last year was horrible! I mean, I was sticking plastic bags in the door to try to keep the draft out (thanks again to the reader who gave me that tip!). Our doors are now very air tight. But we still should limit how much they are opened.
Use Plastic on Windows – Our downstairs windows are newer and great for keeping the cold out. We are fortunate there. Upstairs, though, the windows are quite old and very drafty. We have to use plastic on them or we’d feel the cold draft while sleeping. To save on the costs, I usually purchase plastic (the kind you tape up and then use a blowdryer to shrink) for the windows at the end of the season for the next winter. I can often get the plastic we need for our windows for $1.25 that way. Unfortunately, at the end of last season I forgot to grab more plastic because I thought we still had some left. But we don’t. This winter I had to pay full cost which ran $14.
Caulk Around Windows – Because we were involved in installing our new doors this summer, I was able to see how doors are put in. I see how much potential there is for drafts to come in around the trim if the door trim area is not properly insulated. Looking around our windows, there is a little bit of a gap around the trim and the wall and I will caulk around the windows and eliminate those gaps.
Dress Warmer – In college, we had a neighbor that would run around his apartment in winter in only a pair of shorts. His heat was cranked up to 80 degrees. I wish I would have asked how much he was paying for the heat; I’m sure it was a lot. For us, we are going to dress warmer in the house during our waking hours. That means wearing pants and long sleeved shirts and sweaters.
Use Blankets – I have our heat programmed to start decreasing for the night at 8:00 pm. My son goes to bed at 8:00 pm and although mom and dad stay up for a few hours after that, we will have to use a blanket if we are sitting there watching TV or working on the computer. We have about four little throw blankets that we’ve accumulated throughout the years that we can use for this purpose. Usually it isn’t that bad because our home keeps heat in surprisingly well.
Use Flannel Sheets – Some people swear by an electric blanket. Me? It makes me very uncomfortable to even think of sleeping with one. Instead, I bring out my cozy flannel sheets. They keep me nice and toasty.
Use the Ceiling Fan – We have one ceiling fan in our house in the kitchen. It’s natural to think of using it in the summer for cooling. But something I didn’t know too much about was that you should use it in the winter as well. The heat in your home rises, so if you have your ceiling fan on it will help circulate the heat and you will feel warmer. For it to work properly, set your fan on low and have it draw the air up instead of down.
Pay Attention to Windows – During the day, we are going to let the sun shine in and take advantage of the nice placement of our home. They were very smart back then (I just found out my home is definitely over 100 years old!). At night we will shut the curtains to keep the cold night air away. I wish I could thank those that built our house and set it the direction they did.
With the rising gas costs this winter, it will be interesting to see if our average bill will be lower than last year. It would make my day if we didn’t have any month over $150 this winter (last winter, our highest monthly bill was $178). I know doing the above will help, but exactly how much is up in the air. I will be paying very close attention to how much gas we end up using and near the end of the winter I’ll post a graph showing this year versus last year.