Heat loss… energy waste… and a bill to break the bank.

thermostatThis post was inevitable.  And it felt like a punch in the stomach when I received our latest home heating bill… $533 and the intense sensation of wanting to vomit.

Eighteen dollars a day to NOT shiver and shake in our home.  Not only does this hurt the wallet, but it wastes energy… and then has that ugly snowball effect of what excessive energy consumption creates: excessive air pollution.

There are plenty of things we can do to cut back on our usage, from properly insulating our homes, to replacing windows and doors, to purchasing a more efficient system, but these can be expensive choices.  If they aren’t an option for you, there are still inexpensive and even cost-free changes that can be made:

Close the damper on your fireplace – leaving it open is equivalent to leaving a 48 inch window wide open in your home all winter long!  It can amount to hundreds of dollars in heat loss.  Also consider glass doors as opposed to screens.
Adjust the thermostat – just one degree lower in the winter can save 3% on your usage.  That adds up over a season.
Open blinds and curtains in the daytime and close them at night – the sunlight can help warm our home and covering windows in the evening can help insulate them.
Actually USE storm windows – make the time to add that extra layer of glass and it’s like you have triple panes.heat-loss-logo
Heat only the rooms you use – shut the door, close the vent and say ‘no heat for you!’
When you’re away from home for an extended period, turn down the thermostat – this is a no-brainer, but sometimes we all forget.  If you have a programmable thermostat, use it!
Forget vent fans – a kitchen or bathroom vent fan can expel enough warm air to fill a whole house in only ONE hour!
Do the “feel test” – feel around windows and doors.  If you feel the cold coming in, the heat is also going out.  Buy some weather stripping.
Arrange furniture away from heating ducts and exterior walls – it allows for better circulation of heat.
Replace your air filter and clean vents and ducts – too much dust build-up prevents the heat from even reaching your rooms.
Cover floors – hardwood and ceramic can be beautiful but it actually cools a room.  Add area rugs, even if only for the season.
Reverse ceiling fans – heat rises, so run them for a 5-minute blast and re-circulate the warm air.

If you want to know all things energy-related, visit the U.S. Department of Energy but in the meanwhile, if you’re feeling the urge to vomit like I am, turn some tips into actions!

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8 thoughts on “Heat loss… energy waste… and a bill to break the bank.

  1. Another easy option is minimizing drafts. You can make simple draft dodgers by filling old pantyhose with batting or even dried beans, and place them at the bottom of doors and windowsills!

  2. I’m lucky that I have steam heat and when it’s kicking it’s great but one windy day can make a big difference. At my place, two blocks from the lake, when you know it’s going to be windy pull those blinds and block those doors. If you don’t it take hours to recover. When you have a furnace it will kick on and blast some warm air a radiatior takes longer to “radiate” heat to an entire room. Or have Milo and Charlie curl up next to you…and who says why do you have cats, boy are they warm.

  3. KiwiLog – great idea!

    Matt – ahhh, gotta love our “Great Lake!” Just have the “boys” handy (I mean the cats!) and batten down the hatches!

  4. Great ideas. We just installed a new central air system, will be interesting to see what the difference is next year when we get out year to year comparison.

    Oh, and don’t forget your power strips; phantom electric use can add up to 5% of your total power usage.

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