Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preparing for winter

Our heating bills almost killed us last year. I may have posted about this before: we moved to Washington state to live in the home of military relatives who are overseas for several years. They told us that our heating and cooling costs should be cheaper than in Boston, because the area doesn't have the temperature extremes.

Reality is a little different. The house is cooler in the summer, by virtue of being built into the side of a hill (we have a big spider problem, though). However, Washington had one of the coldest winters and THE hottest summer on record this year. Add to that the fact that in Boston, we lived in a small apartment, and now we live in a large house with huge windows and an old, inefficient furnace. Our heating bills this winter were twice what they normally were in Boston during the winter, and five times what they were when we were striving to be energy efficent (described below).

Needless to say, we can't survive another winter with bills so high. So we are going to try something we did in Boston that reduced our heating costs by 60%. It will be tougher to do in a house, but fortunately, the temperatures here don't often drop below freezing, so I think it will be survivable.

In Boston, we turned our heat down to 55 degrees (except on the bitterly coldest days), and carried a space heater around from room to room as needed. This is what we're going to try this winter here.

I was able to get good deals on two Honeywell surround heat space heaters, purchasing one at Value Village for $8, and another at a moving sale for $5. These are good heaters because they're energy efficient, heat a wide space, have child safety features and automatic shut-off if tipped, and are small and light enough to be carried around easily. I've also found at yard sales and thrift shops such things as bathroom rugs and slipper socks. Now the challenge is making my husband and daughter wear sweaters. I'm always wrapping up, but they like to be freer than I do!

One other part of the plan: bubble wrap insulating our windows! I've heard it really works.

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