My utility bills have been awesome this summer! For the most part, the summer days were mild and required very little work from my air conditioning unit, which translated into incredibly cheap utility bills. This winter, however, is likely to be a different story. In order to keep as much money in my pocket as possible this winter, I need to start taking action to seal up my house as best as I can, both to keep the cold out and the heat in.
This home efficiency stuff is easier said than done though, especially with my 70 year old house that is poorly insulated and has numerous cracked windows. With this old house, what can I possibly do to save money on utilities this winter? Let me share with you the list I came up with so far, and maybe you can benefit from my discoveries as well!
1) Swap Out the Screens with Windows to Create a Double Seal
This might seem like a no-brainer to many of you. Of course I should put up my windows in place of the screens! But, as of last year I didn’t even know that I had these glass windows. When I bought the house, I knew there were some glass sliding windows in the garage that were left behind, but they quickly got covered up with boards and other randoms, and I simply forgot about them. This year, I intend to take out the screens and put up these glass sliders so that I have a double protection from the cold and the wind.
2) Close Off Unused Rooms
I am just one person living in my 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. There are a couple of rooms that simply don’t need to get used in the winter time, and therefore could be left cooler than the rest of the house. For this reason, I am deciding to close off my 3rd bedroom this winter. I typically use this room to watch television, but that happens so rarely that I may as well keep the vents shut and the door closed. In the event that I want to watch a show on Netflix, I can always carry my portable heater in there and warm up the room rather quickly.
3) Burn up Scrap Wood in the Fireplace
Over the course of the summer I have picked up random sticks and downed branches from my yard and placed them neatly on a pile alongside my house. I have also found quite a few leftover 2×4 pieces in my garage that I will likely never use (since my house renovation is complete), so I cut those up and have taken them inside. With this free lumber, I intend to have a couple of fires in my fireplace to help save a little on the heating costs. It won’t do a ton, but I have successfully bumped up the temperature a couple of degrees with fires before. Every little bit helps!
I never really thought about it before, but my fireplace probably lets out a HUGE amount of heat day after day. Last winter, I just had a simple screen in front of the fireplace opening, which means the only thing separating the inside heat from the outside cold was the flue, which is absolutely NOT airtight. This year, I intend to dig up the fireplace doors that came with the house, spray-paint the bronze doors black, and install them to form a tighter seal around the fireplace opening. This should make a huge difference when it comes to heating the house.
5) Seal the Windows With Plastic
My windows aren’t exactly brand new, and I have been too cheap to replace them while I am in the quest of paying off my home mortgage this year. So, since I am not going to buy new windows, I figured that I should probably make the effort to cover the cracked windows with plastic. This is on my to-do list and I figure that it should make a noticeable difference with both the heating bill and the terrible draft that’s always coming in.
6) Lower the Thermostat and Dress Warm
This solution is one of my favorites because it is super simple. In stead of keeping your home at a balmy 72 degrees during the winter, why not drop that down a couple of degrees? In my house, I keep the temp at 63 degrees. It is a little chilly at times, but as long as I dress warm it is actually fairly comfortable. There are some people that like it to be warm enough in their house to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt. When it’s 20 degrees outside, this method is going to absolutely kill your wallet! Suck it up and put on a sweatshirt and some pants instead. This simple dress change could save you $40 or more each month. For me, it’s totally worth it.
7) Stay Moving to Keep Warm (or use blankets)
One of the more fun ways to create heat is to exercise! Our bodies are a phenomenal heat source, especially when we are active. For 30 minutes a day, plan to work out to an exercise video at home. You will certainly warm yourself up, you will keep off that winter weight, and you might even help heat up the house! I call that a triple win! 🙂 And, if you aren’t a fan of exercise, then I suppose you could replicate this by wrapping yourself up in some blankets. This is not nearly as fun though.
How will you save on your utility bills this winter?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.