How to Limit Home Heating Costs Passive Family Income

How to Limit Home Heating Costs Passive Family Income

Control Your Home Heating Costs

by John S. on July 21, 2011

My wife was speaking with two of our neighbors the other day when the topic of home heating costs came up. Our subdivision is fairly new and most of the neighborhood moved into their new homes last spring and summer, so this was the first significant heating bill for most. The other two neighbors were complaining that their monthly gas bills were well over $300. One has a house that is 3,800 square feet and the other is 2,200. My wife did not really tell them at first what our bill was. Finally, with a little pressure she gave in and just told them it was in the one hundreds. We have a 3,300 square foot home and ours was $130.

Later that evening when my wife was filling me in on the details of her conversation, I couldnt help but have a smile on my face. I wasnt happy that the neighbors both had a very high heating bill, but I was pleased with all our hard work. You see, we have been very conscious about our utility bills. Having a house this large is something very new to us.

One of my biggest fears (and still is by the way) was if we could afford and manage the utility costs of a house that was over twice as large as our first. The other difference between our two homes (besides the size) was that the first was in Michigan and our current is in the southeast. Obviously, I planned to have a much higher electric bill in the summer with the new home because it gets a lot hotter here than in Michigan. I also figured we would have comparable heating bills to our first home.

While the first house was much smaller, the winters are colder and longer up there. On the other hand, we need to use more energy on our current home because of its size. So far, I would say that we have spent less on our current home than we did in Michigan, but we have only seen one really cold month so far.

Controlling our home heating costs doesnt come without sacrifice or a cost. If it was easy, then every one would have a really low heating bill every winter. There are several small little things that we do to control our costs and energy consumption. The following list highlights these items -

  1. First Floor Thermostat We have two thermostats, one for each floor. During the evening, the first floor thermostat gets set to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. During the day, if the first floor is in use, we set it at 62 degrees. The only time it gets set above 62 degrees is if we have company over and we will bump it up to 68 72 depending on our visitors.
  2. Second Floor Thermostat During the evening, this thermostat is set at 62 degrees while we are sleeping to make sure our youngest son stays warm. He is only 18 months and we dont use any blankets on him yet. During the day, the temperature ranges from 58 62 depending on the usage of the rooms.
  3. Windows Every window blind and shade goes up in the morning when it is sunny (we keep them down if it is shady). Every evening, all the blinds and shades go down to keep in any heat.
  4. Clothing We all have heavy hooded sweatshirts that we wear around the house as well as slippers and fleeces. To be honest, once we throw on an extra layer, you really stay warm. Plus, both of our sons always seem to be hot because they are so active. They basically can keep themselves warm just by playing and being active.
  5. Fireplace We have a gas fireplace in our living room. If we are all watching television or spending time in the evenings in this room, we always have the fireplace on. This helps us heat just that room on the first floor and not rely on our furnace to continue to heat the rest of the house. The thermostat is in this room, so it is easy to control how much the furnace will run.
  6. Ceiling Fans We try and run ceiling fans in reverse as much as possible to help circulate the warm air back down. The living room ceiling fan is always on low when we have the fireplace on and are using this room.
  7. Blankets Over the years, we have collected a very large collections of warm blankets. We use these all the time when watching television, sleeping, napping, etc. This is a small way to keep yourself warm when trying to reduce your energy consumption.
  8. Vents We have closed off the vents to all of our bathrooms, laundry room, and any closet that has one. These are all very small rooms and heat up quickly. There is no reason to keep heating them when they are rarely used and are so small.
  9. Unused Rooms We shut down any unused rooms. Our guest room on the first floor, for example is used only for storage and when the occasional guest stays. Since the room is mostly unoccupied, we have closed off the vents and keep the door closed. There are also two rooms upstairs (a future office and another storage room) that we close off as well.

July 2011 Update This post was originally written back in 2009. We have been living in our home now for 3 winter seasons and have not seen much change in our bill. This is proof that conservation is key when it comes to saving money on utilities.

At times, we get harassed by some of our family members and friends because we keep our thermostats set so low compared to what they are use to. We actually will temporarily turn up our heat when these people come over so that they are not uncomfortable when they visit. My wife was actually a little embarrassed to tell our neighbors about how low our bill was compared to theirs. I completely understand her feelings and dont like to promote the ways we like to live frugal. Many people dont understand this way of life (in my opinion). To us, it is just better not to focus on it or talk about it with others.

How do you save on your home energy costs?

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