This holiday we had a visitor, an old friend from my childhood. He and his family currently live in Michigan. While Florida presented them a welcome change of weather, they in turn gave me this frugal story of theirs to keep home heating bills under control. I was pondering this idea for last few days and ultimately asked for his suggestion.
Having a reputation in our dorm for his legendary frugality, this friend of mine is the ultimate authority in cost cutting. Here are some of the techniques he suggests employing at your residence.
When using electricity
When your thermostat is the one and only option to warm your home.
Controlling the thermostat
Set it a few degrees lower than you normally do in winter. This will require less energy consumption to heat your home. If you cannot turn off the heat while you are away, consider setting the thermostat even lower. This will help in lowering the heating bills as well as maintaining a suitable temperature in the house.
Ensure proper room insulation
Ensure energy is not leaking through the windows. Check and make sure the windows and doors are completely sealed and there’s no space under the doors. The windows should be sealed with caulk so that the chilly air can’t come in, while the warm environment is enjoyed inside the house.
Although he didn’t do it, still he suggests considering replacing the regular windows with double-paned models which enhances warm temperatures in the house during the cool months of the year. Those windows that are treated with UV ray resistant film are perfect for ensuring warm temperatures.
The importance of adequate wall insulation is often not thought of. Get it checked by experts; in case the walls lack proper insulation, the expert can advise you on the most economical way to improve them. Although most people do not realize the importance of insulating the walls and the cost of correcting wall insulation might become way more than the cost saves on energy bills, but within a few years cost is expected to be recovered.
Heat areas selectively
There’s no way you can make me believe that you need every part of your home heated up all the time. Do you use laundry room every hour? Do you need your bathrooms heated all the time?
Heating unused rooms, attic or basements can consume a great deal of energy. You should consider blocking the vents that could are supplying heat to these rooms. Don’t make your entire house toasty. Even your bedroom vents can be turned off during day. The kitchen, when used will automatically become warmer. Consider leaving the oven door partially open when you are done with it (Not recommended if you have little kids at home), the dissipated heat can help warm kitchen and adjacent areas as well.
During the night consider sleeping in the same room with your children. You can plan to heat only that room and save money by up by turning off vents in other parts of the house.
Wear warm clothes at home
You don’t have to be always in your t-shirt at home. Winter is the time to wear warm clothing, why not all the time? Wear sweaters or use blankets while watching TV or reading books. This is a small but effective way to keep yourself warm while trying to reduce energy consumption.
Maintain equipment well
Ensuring that the thermostat as well as the vents is in good working condition is very important. Equipment that is not in good working condition tends to consume a lot of energy in order to operate. Scheduled maintenance of the vents, fans and the thermostats is very important as when the dirt accumulates on their parts, they consume more energy to operate. He recommends cleaning every season.
For us, we use the AC for cooling purpose only, here in south Florida we seldom need to turn the heat on. We get our AC equipment professionally
Alternatives of using electricity
Gas, Solar power, oil, space heaters and firewood provide excellent alternatives if used cautiously and prudently.
Use gas for heating
In many states gas is the preferred option for heating purposes rather than electricity. Be it for cooking or for heating (room heater or water heater) gas is cheaper than electricity in most of part of this country.
Consider fire wood
If you have to buy wood then this might be costlier than using electricity for heating. It might cost you more than $10 a night. But if you happen to live in a rural area or have access to free firewood, this would be the best option. Now a few cautions before you start setting a fire inside. Use fire only inside a properly operating fireplace and install carbon monoxide detector.
Space heaters or window AC units are another consideration if you tend to spend most of your day in your office or kitchen, or the evenings in living room. Consider turning off the central heater altogether, or lower the thermostat drastically and use a space heater or a fireplace instead.
Use solar power
In my childhood I remember my mother keeping buckets of water out in the sun from morning to make it warm by the time we came back from school in the afternoon. You can do it too, can’t you?
On the other hand, if you can afford the upfront cost of a solar rooftop panel installation, your water would be heated for free for as long as you lived in that home! Open the window curtains, blinds during day light let the solar heat come inside.
A few of the techniques I mentioned above might make you think that I am too frugal and am asking you to apply some insane techniques to save only a few bucks. Believe me; there are people in this country for which even saving $10 more per month is a big deal. You don’t have to follow each of these techniques, follow only what you think you can. Do what is best in your particular situation.
I grew up in a foreign country, and in a home without AC. We employed all of the techniques I mentioned above. They are not insane and have been successfully implemented by human beings for millions of years.
Do you have some other tricks up your sleeve, readers? Do share if you have.