Friday, October 24

Getting the House Ready for Winter

We've lived in our house for three winters now I think we may have solved the mystery of the freezing cold bedrooms. Every winter our bedrooms are about 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house. We've tried everything - plastic sheeting and blankets on the windows, space heaters, turning up the heat - and nothing has worked. I am tired of being cold, so this year we're being proactive.

Heating bills in the winter months can be a huge expense, but many people don't realize that there are many small improvements you can make around your house that will allow you to heat more efficiently, thus wasting less and lowering your energy bills. A couple of months ago we took advantage of Duke Energy's free home energy audit. An auditor came out and inspected our appliances, windows, doors, basement and attic and made several recommendations, which we're working on implementing. If you're a Duke Energy customer, you should definitely take advantage of this free service! If you have another energy provider, check to see if they offer something similar.

Here are the recommendations he offered that may help you as well:

  • Don't use space heaters! You will read stories about the safety concerns, but they are also extremely expensive. Using one in a cold space can add as much as $80 or more to your monthly heating bill!
  • Check your attic insluation. The recommended measurement for attic insulation is R-38. You should check to see that your attic is insulated properly everywhere. Otherwise you're losing heat through your roof.
  • Be sure your attic door is insulated. If you have one of those drop down attic doors with a ladder and it's not insulated, you are losing tons of heat through that opening. You can alleviate this by building a shell: Build a six inch border around the door opening inside the attic and buy a thick piece of styrofoam to cover over it like a lid.
  • Check weather stripping on all exterior doors. This is a simple one - easy to fix but also easy to overlook!
  • Water heater - For safety reasons (and energy savings) turn it down to 120 degrees. Also insulate the hot water tank pipes to conserve the heat.
  • Go green. Many changes that are good for your wallet are good for the environment as well, so consider switching to CFL bulbs in your lighting - they even make them for dimmers now.
We have oil heat in our house, which doesn't seem to be as expensive as gas heat but it did cost us about $900 to fill our 250 gallon tank this year. We invested in a programmable thermostat a couple of years ago that has really helped us reduce costs by setting the heat to automatically adjust at times when we're not home, for example.

I'm hoping that this year, not only will we save some money, but these changes will make it a little warmer in here. We haven't turned on our heat yet - we're hoping to hold out until November, but I don't fingers are a little stiff from the cold while I'm typing right now!


Cincinnati Cents said...

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Thanks! Katie

Jennifer said...

We did some things this year to improve our heating. We put an air tight damper in the fireplace and we replaced a door leading from the garage to the kitchen which was incredibly drafty. I know it is only October, but we are noticing that the house is warmer than previous years. I hope your changes help keep you warmer.