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Reducing heating bills this Fall/Winter

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  • Reducing heating bills this Fall/Winter

    I am trying to spend as little on utility bills as possible - I can easily give up some "comfort" to have those dollars in the bank.

    For myself, I am fine dressing in layers - I can warm up the bed with an electric blanket for a bit before bedtime and turn it off once I'm tucked in.

    My real concern/question is how low can I safely keep the thermostat set to?

    I have pets, some of which live in the basement which is absolutely freezing, and I'm reluctant to leave a space heater downstairs unattended while I sleep. On the flip side, I hate to pay to heat the whole house up just to keep one or two rooms warm for the pets.

    Also, I'm concerned about freezing pipes or whatever other damage could potentially be caused by not keeping the house at a certain temperaature.

    I survived the summer largely without AC - and the cool basement benefitted the pets. I need some help/advice as to how to do with minimal heat in the winter.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I keep hoping that Pandora is going to be my sugar-momma where I won't have to worry about any of those bills.

    If that don't happen however, I'll be snuggling up the the Mrs. Frog every chance I get. The best way I've found to stay warm is to chase her around the house.........
    All information contained in this post is for informational and amusement purposes only.
    Bankruptcy is a process, not an event.......

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    • #3
      If you own, check out programs through your utilities company--energy save, green programs. They are FREE! Sometimes they will end up costing a bit because you will have to repair things.

      They give 0% interest loans to weatherize your house...But you have to get it through a bank, which may be an issue. Nevertheless, they can give you advice on things you may be able to do.

      Many utilities companies charge customers a small fee to run programs like this. But I would call up and ask what a) low income programs they have b) energy save programs they have.

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      • #4
        APL, I really hate that we have to even think like this. However, if you don't have your heat at least at 40F, you do risk your pipes freezing. Re pets - they can suffer from the cold, aggravate arthritis, lower immune system, etc.

        There are some VERY efficient heaters out there...OR if you have central forced air heating/a/c - you can close the vents in rooms you don't want to heat, and close/insulate those doors...

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        • #5
          First, what sort of heating system do you have? Gas Furnace, Radiant heating etc and how cold do your winters get?

          The answer will somewhat depend on how well your home is engineered (does it have insulation in the right places, enough of it, are the vents up to the task etc). Do you have any water pipes up against exterior walls, is there insulation between the pipe and the wall?

          In any event, I have tried lowering down the heat, but things start getting fairly uncomfortable in the low 60's even with dressing in layers and what not (the house just gets COLD). 66-68 is probably a good, relatively efficient range for the thermostat. In the end, it is hard to "save" significant amounts of money, because the house still gets heated. If the outside temps are below your thermostat setting, the heat is going to come on regularly to keep the house even at a reduced temp. So, I am not convinced you really save much money by having the temp set at 66 vs 72. (you save a little, but probably not worth it). If the out side temp range is 30-50 degrees, you will use roughly the same amount of energy to keep the house at 66 as you would 72. As soon as the temp drops below the setting, the heat turns on, so it really doesn't matter the temp setting if the setting will be higher than the outside temp.

          Unfortunately, the only way to try to save is to invest in high efficiency equipment or alternatives, which, of course, are costly.

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          • #6
            One of my goals each year is to get thru a "FL Winter" with out putting the heat on. I'm ok with the house being cold b/c I like it. The kids not so much..lol

            So we do layers and each have an electric blanket.

            I also use the colder months to take advantage of making oven dinners that I would never do in the hot months. And I also run the oven self cleaner maybe once every 6 weeks....lol
            "I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!" Ch 7 Filed 7/15/11 * 3 Minute 341 8/19/11 * Discharged 10/20/11

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            • #7
              I have to say to exercise caution. I kept the heat down to 50 and got seriously ill. Then I didn't go to the doctor and some current issues I have may have started then.

              So don't risk your health.

              Performance fleece is definitely my friend in the winter though. And slippers. And I think they make those for dogs & cats.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by frogger View Post
                I keep hoping that Pandora is going to be my sugar-momma where I won't have to worry about any of those bills.

                If that don't happen however, I'll be snuggling up the the Mrs. Frog every chance I get. The best way I've found to stay warm is to chase her around the house.........
                You rang? At this rate I'm starting to wonder if you're actually my other half in disguise LOL! You sure do sound like him!

                to the OP:

                You can purchase for about $120 a portable electric ceramic baseboard heater that has a thermostat that's programmable, as well as every safety measure you can imagine - its very sturdy and will not tip over (practically impossible). We have one in our cellar (for the very reason of pipes bursting) as there is no heat down there, but it also serves us in the first floor (warming up our hardwood floors). We set it around 55-60 to prevent freezing / provide warmer floors but given our cellar is 3/4 underground, the ground itself insulates it pretty well also. Now if I had pets down there, I'd set it around 68 or therebouts. We keep ours on 24/7 in the winter and have never had any problem at all. Only thing you need to ensure is its far enough away from fabrics, pipes, or anything else along those lines. Speaking of pipes - insulate them as it does help. You can get pipe insulation for a few dollars and it works wonderfully. Our pipes are pvc and are all insulated, never a problem freezing.

                One thing you should do for your house in the winter is get humidifiers (the evaporative kind, not the cool mist that spits water). Our house is 68 degrees year round - and in the winter, we run 4 humidifiers (2200 sqft house / 2 levels plus cellar) strategically placed; the thermostats (all electric baseboard) are set at 68. With the humidifiers it brings the temp up to about 72-73 in the house and is MUCH warmer than our neighbors house (their heat is set at 78-79 and its freezing over there!). Our electric bill is half of theirs and our house is bigger as well as warmer.

                Another thing you can do is insulate the basement if possible. If its concrete / cinderblock walls, you can get furring strips, tack them up, and insulate it with foam board or the foil bubble insulation; you could also do 2x4 false walls on the outside (use vapor barrier as well), then put fiberglass insulation in, covering with paneling or drywall. Again, if cinderblock, do you know if they're hollow or solid? If hollow you can get them filled with insulating spray foam by a specialist who does it by drilling a hole, filling the cinderblocks, then repairing the hole (dont do it yourself, its not the same type of spray foam in a can ). All of the above will be a bit of an upfront cost in the beginning but will pay for itself within a year or so.


                If none of the above appeal to you - there is always making a solar heating system using common everyday objects. Look online for DIY solar heating and you'll find a ton of info on how to do it (the soda can one is very popular...)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Pandora - do you think humidifiers make a difference really? In a humid climate???

                  I pay about $95/mo on budget billing for natural gas - heat is set at 72F for the winter (I'd want it at 74 but spouse won't let me...it's too "hot" then apparently...)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by IamOld View Post
                    Hi Pandora - do you think humidifiers make a difference really? In a humid climate???

                    I pay about $95/mo on budget billing for natural gas - heat is set at 72F for the winter (I'd want it at 74 but spouse won't let me...it's too "hot" then apparently...)
                    Iam.... it's not humid here in the winter luvie.. Yes, it does make a huge difference; think of it this way: where we are its humid in the summer months but AZ for example, has dry climate, so 100 here can feel like 115, while in AZ, it's much cooler. By adding a humidifier to your house (I'm talking the little portable ones, not a whole house system) it makes it warmer; same principle as Mother Nature.

                    You could turn your heat down to about 68-70 and you'd still be much warmer than having it set to 72-74. You also benefit from not waking up with dry eyes, nose, or shocking yourself every time you touch something!

                    Same principle applies in the summer as well - we usually have 6 AC units in our house (no central air / heat - 150 yr old house); all are energy star compliant. This year we finished up a total gut on 1 room and added an attic fan to the attic; in doing those 2 things we were able to get rid of 2 AC units and the house remained very cool (sometimes too cool). We also run a de-humidifier in the cellar to take the humidity out of the air down there (same reason as why we heat it, just reversed). It makes a huge difference in doing both of them and for pennies a day (all humidifiers are energy star as is the de-humidifier).

                    Our electric bill was only $149 last month...and for an all electric house (incl. dryer thats about 17 yrs old) - thats awesome! Winter time varies, but I've never had a bill over $300 since we moved here.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      :-) I know I HATE HATE humidity!!! THe very thought of makes me ill...I this climate!!!

                      You know I guess I shouldn't complain - but I do - my electricity is about $100/mo on budget billing...and it was VERY VERY hot this year...so I'm waiting for the slam to come at the end of the year when they reset the budget.

                      Attic fan - should've done that when I had money :-)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You can still add an attic fan for about $100 - its easy to do. We bought ours at Lowes - it sits behind the gable vent (mounted it to 2x4's per instructions), set the thermostat, and then wired it up to an "on/off" switch. Took about an hour or so and made a huge difference! Given our house is so old, there is no insulation in the walls but there is old cellulose insulation that was blown in on the ceilings. It doesnt do much though because its all broken down and like dust, so the rooms upstairs are a bit warmer than the rest of the house even with AC, but the fan drastically reduced the heat build-up in the attic. Just one of the many projects we have to do in the upcoming years One room at a time...

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                        • #13
                          THANKS!!!!!!!! That will then be put on the agenda for later...I still have a ceiling fan I need to replace...I'm good with electronics but NOT NOT NOT carpentry!

                          Originally posted by Pandora View Post
                          You can still add an attic fan for about $100 - its easy to do. We bought ours at Lowes - it sits behind the gable vent (mounted it to 2x4's per instructions), set the thermostat, and then wired it up to an "on/off" switch. Took about an hour or so and made a huge difference! Given our house is so old, there is no insulation in the walls but there is old cellulose insulation that was blown in on the ceilings. It doesnt do much though because its all broken down and like dust, so the rooms upstairs are a bit warmer than the rest of the house even with AC, but the fan drastically reduced the heat build-up in the attic. Just one of the many projects we have to do in the upcoming years One room at a time...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=IamOld;542160]APL, I really hate that we have to even think like this. [QUOTE]

                            I really hate that we have to think like this too, IAmOld. When I was in college, in a really dumpy little apartment, the utilities were included. In the winter I'd have the heat on 79-80 during the day and drop it a couple of degrees at night. Oh and lots of really long, really hot showers too. I miss it now.

                            HHM, I have central forced heating via gas, and an average winter night would get down to the 20s - 30s. I read your post and Pandora's post about the electric baseboard heater and just don't know which is more economical.

                            I found some baseboard heaters online and while they do seem safe, I don't know if I can trust my pets to use it safely unsupervised. My dogs would sleep right up against it.

                            The humidifier makes sense, I know how much warmer it feels when it is humid.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by APL View Post


                              I found some baseboard heaters online and while they do seem safe, I don't know if I can trust my pets to use it safely unsupervised. My dogs would sleep right up against it.

                              The humidifier makes sense, I know how much warmer it feels when it is humid.
                              They make wall mounted heaters that are similar in safety and economy. My dogs would cuddle up to a heater, too, especially the floppy eared varmint below.

                              ~~ Filed Over Median Income Chapter 7: 12/17/2010 ~~ 341 Held: 1/12/2011 ~~ Discharged: 03/16/2011 ~~
                              Not an attorney - just an opinionated woman.

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