Save Big: Stay Warm: But How?

>> Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December. Already?!?! Apparently. I just checked our 10-day forecast, and I'll first say that I'm so glad marathon training is over. The high most days doesn't hit above 36 degrees. The low? I don't even want to think about the low. Let's just say this: If the weather gods hosted a limbo tournament, those of us in the North would definitely win. I've already been cranking the heat from the minute I get up till I go to bed . . . which got me thinking. With all this budget talk, with all this want to save money . . . what impact does heating have on our bills?

To date, we're not the best with the energy efficiency thing. I'm all for going green and being responsible. Saving energy. Etc. But when it comes down to it: We have an old house. With an old thermostat. And we don't claim to be experts as 20-somethings on exactly what to do about it. We have received some great advice, though. So, I thought it'd be good to share.

Here are five simple ways to help cut down on heating costs this winter:

1.) Change your old thermostat to a snazzy electronic programmable one. Yes. They cost money. And we're definitely trying to save. But I read recently that the thing can pay itself off in a year of use (aka, means I can't crank it up to 75 when I get chilly). So that makes cents. Get it? Need instructions on how to install? Head over to Young House Love.

2.) Inspect your insulation situation. We dealt with this bad boy last year -- and were we ever surprised to find that our attic had basically zero insulation! If you haven't ventured upstairs in a while, go take a look. If you've heard the bit about how you lose all your heat through your head, and wearing a hat helps with that, it isn't a stretch to see that this is the same concept.

Stephen has promised me he's going to post about how to pick out and install insulation. One quick tip he's passed along: Make sure to save your receipt for tax time. That's right -- you can snag a federal tax credit and be warmer to boot!

3.) Use (or install) your ceiling fan! Heat rises, right? Right. So why not cycle it back down to where you need it most: your fingers and toes. Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch so that you can use it to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The next time you're dusting off the blades, check it out. From experience, a little air circulation really makes a difference.

4.) Take a look at your windows. This one's easy. If you have cracks, cold air will get in. So if your neighbor's kid accidentally hit a baseball through your kitchen window this summer, you may want to look for damage (yeah, extreme example -- but I've been up since 5AM, go easy on me!). We luck out in this department. Though our house is pretty old, the previous owners replaced all the windows. If you aren't so lucky (and, don't worry, we have many other issues to contend with), make sure to caulk and seal if you find leaks. This includes interior seals.

5.) Bundle up. This may sound like a cop out. But seriously! Blankets and sweaters (that you already own, of course) are free. Put some on. Unless your nose is frostbitten and your toes are blue, chances are -- a few extra layers may do the trick. And layering is so in this season. Hah! I'm wearing my leopard-print snuggle right now. Maybe not, but something close to it.

On that note, I'll stop. But here are some other sources for information on lowering your heating costs, 2009 style:

How to Cut Down on Winter Heating Bills
10 Ways to Cut Down Your Heating Bill This Winter
Cheap and Easy Ways to Cut Down on Home Heating Costs
Save Money on Heating Costs

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