Last time, I ran through some of the costs of living in winter, on the clothing front. Today we’re going to look at the cost of living in winter for heating and such. You can layer yourself up in clothes, that is definitely one option, but nice thick sweaters do not keep your pipes from freezing.
We had a problem with that once in my house in university, with some pipes on an exterior wall. However, I digress. Heating costs more, plain and simple, but there are things you can do to mitigate that.
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I get a bit of a pass on this one, myself, because our condo building has all of the utilities included in the condo fees (ahem, so bad for the environment). A great number of people have wood stoves that they use to reduce their heating bills. My spouse goes out with friends to help collect wood, primarily deadfall, in the late summer and fall, so that it can cure (dry out) and be ready to use for winter. Some extreme folks can get by solely using their wood stoves through the winter.
My favourite example ever of a crafty way to heat one’s house for a reasonable price was a guy who had a smaller server farm in his basement. I’m sure in the summer it was absolutely awful, but in the winter they had a few fans set up to push the heat upstairs and it worked like a charm.
I met this family when they were selling their house and they were very, very clear that mileage would vary when it came to the cost of heating the house! For them, it was a write off as a business expense, because all of the servers would go through quite a bit of electricity.
Me? I’ve got forced air electric (who has ever heard of such a thing?) and a natural gas fireplace. Plus I have a stove and a dryer that throw a mighty large amount of heat.
I don’t use this stuff in my house now, though I did when I was in university. It is basically putting saran wrap on your windows and then tightening it up with a hair dryer. It adds another thermal block before the window and reduces airflow. The kits aren’t too expensive and if you have older windows, it can save you some coin.
Drafts are the biggest way that houses lose heat, so the more you can do to plug them, the better it is for the bottom line. Plus, putting the shrink wrap on is kind of fun.
Big con? Those idyllic views of the trees dusted with gorgeous snowflakes campus parking lot across the street during winter are slightly obscured because saran wrap equivalents just aren’t as transparent as glass.
A more permanent option would be to have your windows replaced and sealed by a team like Quality Exterior Services LLC. That would prevent drafts and result in less money lost on high heating bills.
You can buy nice door draft blocker from the store, or you can go the frugal way and roll up an old towel and leave it on the floor. The more drafts you can block, preferably with longer lasting things like seals, the cheaper it is to heat your house.
Many green building designs incorporate what I always call an air lock. You walk into an entrance way that is a closed off room, so that there is an intermediate heating area. The closing off of the room prevents cold air from getting in the house and warm air from escaping at length. They really can save a lot of money.
“But I don’t have a built in air-lock,” you say.
Don’t worry, depending on the design of your entrance, you can create one. That’s what Elaine does each year. Her door enters into a hallway, so she has hung up a rod and hangs a very heavy blanket/curtain combination, a few feet into the hallway. It creates the intermediate-temperature zone, cost nearly nothing after being sourced from the thrift store, and saves heaps on the heating bill. I love it.
For those of you who have to pay your own heating bills, what kind of increase do you usually see in the winter?