Can We Do It?

In our endless pursuit of frugality, the big expenses that we attempt to keep under control in the winter are our propane and electricity bills. These bills in the winter time are driven primarily by how much we use our heat. Our water is also heated by propane (on demand), but that aspect of our use is pretty consistent year round. So, at this time every year, we engage in a silly but fun (or not so fun, depending on your perspective) game. Can we go without turning on the heat until daylight savings time ends? I believe we fell a few days short last year (if I recall correctly, we may have even had snow in late October). But even a few more weeks of no heat will make a difference to our budget!

We’re now at T – 15 days and so far so good. Granted, we weren’t here for about 6 days and we haven’t had the coldest of Autumns, but we’re currently on track. And based upon the 10 day forecast, I think we may make it (assuming we can get through this Sunday and Monday – brisk!). But that’s not to say that we’re not a little chilly. We keep our house at 62 degrees or less during the day and 55 degrees at night in the winter. We do have heavy blankets on all of our beds and one or more of us may have an electric blanket that we use to heat the bed before climbing in, but in general, it’s cold here.

Now that I work from home, I do have a space heater under my desk for those winter days that I can’t shake the cold. That gives me a consolidated burst of heat to keep me and my office a little warmer to keep plugging. We also supplement on weekends, when we’re all home together, with the wood stove. We often get it up to 75 degrees on those days and it’s so cozy without taking a hit to our wallets. But we do turn the heat up when we have guests. We have chosen to save significantly during the winter this way, but our guests generally aren’t accustomed to the cold so we try not to make them suffer. It’s funny, sometimes when we go to other houses in the winter, our kids have to wear t-shirts because they are not used to it being so warm!

CAN WE DO BETTER?

The next step in our pursuit of heat savings is to make our 30+ year home a little more energy efficient. We do have storm windows which help with the heat loss, but they are still 30+ year old windows and really need to be replaced. That’s on our long list of home improvements, but it won’t happen this year. So, we will be trying out the 3M Indoor Window Insulator Kit next month. It has gotten some pretty good reviews and seems to achieve the objective of helping reduce heat loss through the windows. But, I’m not sure how kid friendly it’s going to be. I’m a little worried that curious fingers will break the seals. However, at only $15.89 for 5 windows, we’ll give it a try. Depending on how well it works, we may or may not pursue new windows in 2016.

We also plan to install better weather stripping around our front door. When you can see daylight coming through, you know that there’s a problem. This door also desperately needs to be replaced, but it isn’t in the budget at the moment so weather stripping should go a long way. Additionally, our outlets on exterior walls are also a place where we’ve noticed some cold coming through. Because they involve electricity, there isn’t much insulation in those areas. So, we’re going to add some outlet sealers to those outlets in hopes of reducing any loss there.

These small steps hopefully will help prevent some of our heat from escaping this winter. There are other bigger energy saving projects that we may pursue in the coming years, but for now, we’re hoping to keep as much of our heat as we can where it belongs! But for the next 15 days, we’re planning to be off the grid when it comes to heat! Let’s see if we can do it!

What are your favorite energy saving tips?

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