Gas Heat: Trying To Cut Down, Again

I’ve been watching the little dials on our gas meter spin around at warp speed these past few days. The Northeast finally got a taste of winter, with temperatures in the low-30s for highs (Upper Midwesterners, insert your jokes here).

Those dials spin like crazy when the furnace is doing its thing. After the crazy bills at our last apartment, the utility bills now seem much more reasonable, as they’re for an entire home.

The heat isn’t zoned, so that doesn’t help. Our back enclosed porch room is (unwittingly) unheated, due to a gas leak in the old wall heater. I had the gas line capped in the summer to be on the safe side, and we never got it repaired — not sure it’s worth it. Luckily, the room is separated from the rest of the house with a weatherstripped bi-fold door, which we’ve been keeping closed most of the time. Our Christmas tree is also back there, so a closed door also serves to keep the mischievous kitties from breaking ornaments. We have an oil-filled space heater back there to keep things warm when necessary.

We wound up paying for more heat than we used last month. I wasn’t home to let in the meter reader, so the utility company estimated our usage. We actually used 45 therms, but they got us for 85. Which winds up being good for us — we’re already 60 therms PAST that, so total usage is about 100 therms for the month (we paid for the first 40 with the last bill). There’s only a few days left in our billing period, so I may submit our gas meter reading online to ensure we aren’t “overbilled” again.

One idea for using less furnace heat is to use a space heater up in the bedroom at night, shutting off the furnace until morning. I think this will help us out a lot. We already wear robes and slippers over our PJs, and sweatshirts/sweatpants otherwise. But on weekends, when Mr. Saver stays up to watch movies all night, this trick won’t work — putting a space heater in the living room won’t do the trick because the room can’t be sealed to keep in the heat.

Our windows are a mix of new vinyl replacement windows and single-pane windows original to the house (1950). But the house seems to be sealed up pretty tightly, so there’s not much more we can do. I’d eventually like to put in a digital thermostat, which may help. Hopefully, we’ll get through the next few months without paying an arm and a leg for heat — but I’m not counting on it.

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