Keeping Your Heating Costs Down

Well, it looks as if the cost of heating our homes this winter will be higher than usual. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have had some impact on the US oil and gas economy, and while prices are currently coming down -- our demand will soon be going up.

So, what can you do to help yourself out?

Best thing you can do to make sure that you survive the winter heating season is to do some maintenance around the house. Caulk around your windows. Make sure that you get rid of any "drafts" around doors, especially doors to the outside. Replace weather stripping on these doors. In some cases, you can get decorative "draft stoppers" that look a lot like a stuffed animal (but without the fur) to lay along the bottom edges of interior doors for those basement and attic draft problems. (If you have a wife like mine, she'll want to color-coordinate them to the room, so you might want to leave the buying of such things to her.)

If you've got the time, money or inclination, consider laying some additional insulation in your attic. Heat travels upwards and your attic can be a big overall heat leak in your home.

An easy conservation tip is to turn your thermostat down at night when you're sleeping, or get an "automatic set back" thermostat. Heat the house only when necessary, and then let the house cool down to about 65 degrees F otherwise. This temp ensures that your plants and pets will be okay (as long as you don't have tropical ones), and yet you'll save a lot on heating.

Actually, if you are a two-income family and the house is empty all day, you can have your thermostat set back twice. It works like this: heat the house up about an hour before your family gets out of bed. Keep the house warm until about a half-hour after you usually leave. Then have the temperature set back. About an hour before the family arrives home, have the house warm up again. At night, after the last bedtime, have the temperature set back. This can save you a lot of money over the course of the entire heating season.

We don't yet have one of those set back thermometers, but we do have sweaters, and my wife always turns the heat down and up when we come and go. I might never have to buy one.


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