Reducing Heating Costs

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The average monthly electricity and natural gas bill combined in our state is $155.  Our average is $140.  As recent empty nesters, we could probably do better. Heating is 41.5% of average home energy consumption, so I figure that is a good place to start.

Energy Audit

Our natural gas company provides a free energy audit for homes over thirty years old.  We had someone come out last summer.  He said that our insulation was fine.  He offered us a programmable thermostat, but we didn’t take it, since we are pretty good about adjusting our thermostat at night.

Thermostat Settings

I remember when Nixon came on television and told Americans to lower their thermostats from the ideal room temperature of 72 degrees to 68 degrees to save energy.  Sixty-eight is a good rule of thumb for a daytime temperature when you are home.  You can use warm clothing, if you’re not comfortable at 68 degrees.  It is 70 degrees in our house right now, without the heat on.  I decided it was time to switch my night clothes from shorts and short sleeves to lounge pants and a long sleeve t shirt.  Consumer Reports recommends setting the thermostat at 60 degrees at night.  My wife worries about our cat, but a cat should be able to tolerate 60 degree temperatures.  Sixty degrees should also work when you are away from home.

Storm Windows

We have storm windows for two small basement windows.  I put those on for the winter.  We also have an egress window, but don’t put a storm window on it because it is a potential fire escape.

Window Treatments

Our windows are only on the east and west sides of our house.  We close all our curtains and blinds at night.  In the morning, when it is getting direct sun, we open up the curtains on the east side of our house.  In the afternoon, we close the curtains on the east side of our house, and open the curtains and blinds on the west side of our house.

These are ideas we are considering after reading an article from Popular Mechanics:

Plastic Film

Putting plastic film on windows and glass doors can reduce energy costs up to 14%.  It is relatively inexpensive.

Space Heater

We have used a space heater in our basement recreation room and bedroom for years.  With being empty nesters, it wouldn’t be difficult to leave our thermostat at 60 degrees, and use space heaters in the areas of the house we are occupying.  It should be cost beneficial.


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