It’s that time of year again where I go off on my tangent about heating bills. We had a few days last week where the high temperatures were in the 40s and evening temps around 30 degrees, so it was time to fire up our furnace.
Our utility company has lowered prices compared to last winter, which will be a boon to a lot of people in New Jersey. Of course, this comes after the prices were raised the last two winters. The difference for us now is that we have an entire house to heat, rather than a smaller apartment. We’re going to have to get creative to save money on our heating bills. We don’t have zoned thermostats. Also, our back room (four-season porch) had a gas heater, but it was leaking and I had them cap the line back in the summer, so now we either leave the door closed and keep it unheated (probably bad for the TV back there!) or keep it open and let the heat flow in from the rest of the house.
We’re also going to insulate the hell out of the upstairs room we’re renovating. This includes putting new insulation on all exterior walls and the ceiling rafters, and also laying insulation across the ceiling from the attic. The 50-year-old wool insulation we pulled out just wasn’t doing the trick.
Here are a few ideas for saving on your heating bills and winterizing your home:
1. Installed zoned thermostats. Why heat the first floor at night when you’re sleeping on the second floor, and vice versa during the day?
2. Buy a digital thermostat. Many can be programmed for weekdays and weekends, with 4 or 5 temperature changes during the day. Use it to drop the temp down at night, raise it in the morning, drop it again after work, raise it for evening and lower it again at bedtime. It’s easier than trying to remember to make all the temperature changes each day, and is generally more accurate the typical mercury-filled thermostats.
3. Close off unused rooms. Shut off the radiator or close any heating vents in empty rooms and keep the door closed. Why heat a room you’re never in?
4. Use high-grade insulation. Naturally, this isn’t a reason to rip down your walls, but if you’re renovating, use the best stuff you can get to keep as much of the cold air out as possible.
5. Seal the windows. Drop the storm windows down for the season, and use foam weatherstripping or caulk around windows. Or try clear plastic sheeting for a tighter seal. If all else fails, replace the windows.
6. Insulate electrical outlets. Little did I know when I took off the old metal outlet covers that the foam inside wasn’t for padding — it was for insulation purposes!
7. Stop drafts from the attic space. Line the roof and ceiling rafters with insulation, or add more to existing insulation. Up to 12 inches thick is recommended to best results.
8. Replace your furnace filter. Dirty filters make the furnace less efficient — replace it every month or two, as needed.