March 3, 2015

Hacks for Saving on Winter Utilities

Last weekend, the southwestern states of the US got a taste of what the Northeast has been getting all winter.  A whole bunch of this stuff:


As our thermostats whooshed to life, keeping us at our 68-72 degree indoor expectations, I was reminded of some easy, no tools- or skills-needed, anyone-can-do-it, free ways to save on energy consumption and money during the cold months besides doing push-ups and putting on fuzzy socks when it's cold in your house.

1.  Take a Ronco "Set it and Forget it" approach to your thermostat.  Changing the temperature willy-nilly forces some heating units to use their back up system and that guy is more costly and less efficient than his big brother.  However...

Warm, fuzzy, footed-pjs all the way...
2.  Turn the heat down if you are gone all day.  It takes less energy to bring the temp back up to your comfort level than it does keeping it elevated all day.  To quote Dana Carvey on SNL (Or is it Johnny Carson?), "I did not know that."

3.  Be careful of the space heater.  Got a small, unheated room in the back of the house?  A space heater might be good idea only for a couple of hours before it starts costing you more in resources.  My girls sleep in such a room and I use the space heater for a few hours before bed and a few hours in the morning.  But what I really do to keep the girls warm is...

4.  Dress kids in foot-to-toe pajamas.  And socks underneath.  And then pile your outdoor concert blankets on top of them.  I go to these extremes because the thermostat is across the house from the girls' room and the energy cost to heat their room to comfort would be astronomical.



5.  Close any air conditioning vents.  Duh.


6.  And see that hole under my door?  That's where the cockroaches come into my kitchen in the summer and the hot air goes out in the winter.  I need to weatherstrip that baby ASAP.  But in the meantime I do this:

7.  Depending on how tight your windows are, you can experiment with opening and drawing blinds to certain strategic windows.  I open the slits on the southern- and western-exposed windows in my place because the sun hits them directly in the afternoon, giving me some free, warm lovin'.

We make it real easy for us.
8.  Reverse those fans.  I can't believe this works but we do it every October 15.  Flip the switch on your ceiling fan to push warm air down instead of sucking it upwards like it should in the summer.


9.  Do your laundry at night.  Like after 830pm.  Running your washer/dryer during off-peak hours helps the power company run more efficiently, can save you some money, makes nice white noise for the sleeping kids and makes it just a tad bit warmer in the house.


10.  Leave the oven open a crack.  My mother instinct says to warn you about littles and my exactly two science classes in college tell me the transfer of energy would still happen anyway, but I like to leave the oven open a little bit after making cookies.  'Cause it's toasty.

11.  Soups and hot cocoa.  Copious amounts of the later.


12.  And then some push-ups in fuzzy socks.

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