February 19, 2012

Dealing with winter heat costs

In our house, we do as much as possible to lower our electric bill. We have a heat pump, so our heat is electric as well. Here is how we keep our bill manageable:

1. Turn down the heat. Well, duh. That seems like an easy one, right? Sure. But we turn ours way down. At night, our thermostat is set at 55. When we are gone during the day, also 55. When we are home, 60, or 62 if we are extra chilly :) I read somewhere that every degree you increase your heat in the winter adds around 1% to your bill. That adds up.

Several people wonder how we dont freeze our tails off. We wear socks. And a sweatshirt. And we have blankets on our bed. And no, we havent gotten sick. If anything we wake up well rested, and our house is never stuffy. Pretty simple!

Another benefit to this is that our Fridge doesn't have to work as hard to keep cool.

2. Keep certain rooms sealed off. Our office (or Jeep room, as J likes to call it) is closed off at all times. The heating vents are closed. The door is closed. Sometimes if its especially cold I'll put a towel at the base of the door to prevent drafts.  You can also buy a thick clear film to go over your drafty windows, which you then blow dry to make it taut, and it seals out leaks from the outside. We dont do this, mostly because our winters have been mild and I like to open the windows occasionally. However, when I lived in Colorado our family did this frequently. It saved us a ton. You can find it at any hardware store.

3. Turn off the lights. If we are watching TV in the living room, the light in the kitchen doesn't need to be on. The porch light doesn't need to be on if we're not outside. Sometimes we even eat dinner by candlelight. It's romantic, and it saves us money :) What a great combination!

4. Unplug appliances that are not being used. Phantom drain does not add up to much, but it helps. At any given time I could have 5-6 appliances in the kitchen plugged in and not being used for weeks at a time. For our TV we have a special extension cord(I cant remember what its called! Dont you hate that?) that connects all eletronics (blu-ray, xbox, etc) to the TV. When we turn the TV off, power is cut off to those electronics as well. That way we never forget to turn off the blu-ray or xbox, and they dont drain electricity for days on end.

5. Have cooking days.  I will usually take a day on the weekend and cook multiple things for the week. I do this for my own convenience during the week of course, but it also saves us electricity. The oven is on and hot, I can cook multiple things at once and I dont spend the energy turning it off and on and off and on throughout the week.

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