Adjust your thermostat! For each one degree change downard, you can save up to 5% of your heating costs.
If you love a roaring fire in the winter, lower the thermostat to 55°F while the fire is lit. Otherwise, all the warm air in your home will just go right up the chimney.
Like many homes in America, I have a crawlspace under the first floor, next to the basement proper. And, like many homeowners in America, I assumed that my house was properly built and insulated. After all, I had it professionally inspected before I bought it — and the inspector did not report any problems at all. Subsequently, of course, I sued the inspector when the basement flooded through an obvious crack in the foundation. So I should not have been surprised to discover that the crawlspace, under my kitchen and my youngest daughter's bedroom, was completely un-insulated.
A couple of months ago, my wife commented on a cold spot in the kitchen near the flush-mounted vent on the stove, so I closed it off. The problem got better but really didn't go away, so I went down the basement to see where the vent duct went and discovered that the wall between the crawlspace and the basement itself was insulated —
— but the crawlspace itself was completely un-insulated.
Well, that was completely unacceptable, so I took some measurements and called up Home Depot. The gentleman who answered the phone informed me that not only did Home Depot not carry 12" insulation, but that no builder ever built homes with joists on a 12" center and even if they did, no insulation manufacturer sold 12" insulation.
Since, as you can see in the pictures above, the wall and joists are clearly on 12" centers and the wall is clearly insulated with 12" insulation, I could tell that this gentleman didn't know what he was talking about, so I took my business to Lowe's, where a wonderful team of people worked closely with me to special-order the insulation I needed. $700 later, I had a lot of insulation in my basement.
After that I had 12 or so hours of complete misery. The crawlspace narrows to about 18" along the front wall, so I was wiggling on my back through mud with my hands full of tools and insulation. Since this is a crawlspace, I had to thread the insulation through the many, many pipes, ducts, and wires that were installed there to keep them out of the way. At the highest, the crawlspace is about five feet tall, so I lost track of how many times I bumped my head on things.
In the end, the crawlspace was finally insulated as it should have been 20 years ago when this house was built.
With any luck, my heating bills will go down to help offset the $800 cost of this project.
Economy has frequently nothing whatever to do with the amount of money being spent, but with the wisdom used in spending it. - Henry Ford
If you have glass doors on your fireplace, keep them closed whenever the fireplace is not in use. If you don't have these doors, consider adding them.
OK, January was cold, with 700 heating degree days (HDD), slightly more than the normal value of 692 HDD. The gas bill alone was $342 out of a total of $419 — and we were out of town the first week of the month! What happened to our nice, mild winter?
Our cost of water has officially doubled, from $1.44 to $3.04, in the past three months. Fortunately, our water usage is generally lowest in the month of January, but if this continues, this has bad implications for the future.
Just so you know, I've decided to start including HDD and CDD in the data block at the bottom of the page, so you can track these values the same way I do. If you want to look them up yourselves, I get them from the National Weather Service.
January 2008 Data
Electricity, in kWh
Cost / Unit
Gas, in Therms
Cost / Unit
Water, in CCF
Cost / Unit
Turn off your electric blanket when you aren't in the bed. If you forget, put your electric blanket on a digital timer that turns it on every night right before bed and turns it off every morning right before you wake up.
If you're cold at night, an electric blanket helps keep you warm without heating the entire house. You can program your thermostat to turn itself down overnight and use an electric blanket to warm up the 18 or so square feet that you are actually occupying while you sleep.