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.
*This post contains affiliate links.
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?
Darcy Whittell says
Heating issue does effect our belongings that is why we have to use it gently. Anyways I appreciate your effort.
Darcy Whittell recently posted…Tips To Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient
Ryan Anthony says
I think it is important to have your local HVAC company come out before it gets too hot out and take a look at your HVAC unit. They will check to see how it is functioning, if it needs more freon, if there are any leaks, etc. and can even clean it up a bit if it needs it. These tips looks really beneficial. This is best so there will be less chance of you having problems when you really need your air the most. Great information, thanks for sharing! Keep sharing posts like these! Really liked your blog!!!
Id have to say now the best option for saving money on your electric bill is installing a programmable thermostat. It allows you to keep your house on a schedule so when you leave in the morning it will turn off. Then you set it to kick back on 1 hour from when you get home. They have some that you can now change the temp from your phone.
Sealing off your doors and windows is one of the most cost effective ways to keep your home energy efficient. I also recently had my home re-insulated which has helped cut down my electric bill. Thanks for sharing these tips.
Jon Alderson says
Great article…..I really appreciate your post as it is so informative….
Door insulation is a great way to keep your heating costs down in the winter. These are all pretty helpful tips so thanks a lot for sharing!!!!Nice information that you shared with us….
Keep posting…..I’d love top read your blog….
Have a nice day ahead!!!!
We just redid my insulated my entire house. they came in and removed the old insulation and sprayed that new foam that expanded to fit all of the seams. We re did the windows too. It seems to be alot cleaner in my house now.
Hazel Owens says
I think that sealing off your doors and windows is a great way to keep your house warm in the winter. There’s no point in running any type of heating if most of the air is just going to seep out. Covering windows and putting towels under doors are some great ways to keep the heat in. Thanks for the article!
Westly Smith says
I like how you mention several different ways to heat your house. I agree with you that you can be creative with how you do things. Although, I feel like my heater is the best way of heat. I just make sure that I include repair costs with my electricity bill.
Nice tips to follow these tips saves my energy bill and i can honestly say that with out any installations or constructions i can stay warm with these tips and setting thermostat lining really helps me in winter and also in summer by not allowing the hot air in my room. I also followed HVAC tools for better results.
Kayla Rogers says
You are spot on when you point out that wearing warmer close in the winter won’t stop your pipes from freezing. Thus, having a good heating system is a necessity if you live in a cold climate. I’ll have to look into using a wooden stove to supplement my heater and see if that helps lower the bill next winter!
Elden Gatley says
I agree that wood stoves are not enough to keep warm. Growing up, my family would use wood stoves, sometimes as our only source of heating. Looking back, I wish we would have rethought that because the result was probably being warm only when in the living room.
Laurel Larsen says
You are definitely very lucky to have the heating bill included with your monthly rent! My husband have found that using things like the electric stove and fireplace to our advantage can help with our heating bill. We do end up using the system quite a bit, though, because otherwise we would be freezing all the time!
I think it’s crazy how people get by just by using their wood stoves. The winters are really hard for me because I just get so cold! I have a furnace that does a decent job of keeping me warm. It just requires quite a bit of repair, but it’s not generally expensive.
Shrink wrapping the windows is a very interesting idea. I’ve never heard of that one before but I may just need to try it out for sure. Thanks so much for sharing!
Drew recently posted…Lighting Electrician
Veronica Marks says
It’s crazy that servers can put off enough heat to warm a whole house! I never would have thought of something like that. However, when my brothers have what they call a LAN party at my parent’s house, the office room they use does get pretty toasty, so I can see how it might work well!
Bennett Fischer says
My wife and I just moved into a new home last month, and we are wondering how much we are probably doing to spend now that it’s Winter. That being said, I really appreciate you sharing with me this exact thing. I definitely learned a lot about heating from reading your site, and you helped me understand about how much I’ll be paying. Thanks a ton for sharing this Anne.
Our heater has broken twice this winter. It’s so frustrating! I definitely recommend keeping up with regular maintenance. I bet if we had gotten the furnace serviced this summer, we wouldn’t have had to do these repairs.
Veronica Marks says
Our door in our kitchen is incredibly drafty. I had no idea that actual door draft blockers existed. I’ll have to look into that and see if they have them at our hardware store down the street.
Rob Benton says
I agree that shrink wrap is a good idea for windows in the winter. Growing up, we were usually pretty cold in the wintertime. Looking back, I wish we would have looked into ways to stay warmer. I’ll have to give the shrink wrap a try sometime.
Thank you for the tip on shrink wrap for windows. I’m getting heating installed in a couple of days, but I’m trying to stay warm until then. I’ll definitely have to try some of the tips you suggested.
Jason Strong says
My wife and I just moved to city where it gets very cold and dumped on with snow. We have never lived in a place like this before so we are trying to find out ways to make this winter more comfortable. This helped and I hope that we can make this happen.
You can purchase packages of receptacle foam insulators very inexpensively. Easy to install, just remove the covers from your light switches and plugs, insert the foam piece and replace cover.
Also, in my house we have relatively new windows but when they were installed they weren’t insulated properly so I’m removing window trim and using expanding foam to insulate properly.
I also have curtain rods above all my exterior doors with hooks that have clips on them. In the cold weather I hang nice quilts or Mexican style blankets (depending on what room) and we pull the blankets over the door at night.
Door insulation is a great way to keep your heating costs down in the winter. These are all pretty helpful tips so thanks a lot for sharing!
Veronika Dalton says
I tried shrink-wrapping my windows. It kind of helped, but we decided to actually replace them with energy efficient windows. I’m surprisingly excited to see the difference between this year’s heating bill, and last year’s heating bill.
Wendy Cartright says
This is a great post about winter costs. I grew up in Montana where we only had wood stoves so heating costs were not a problem. Many areas in certain states do not allow wood burning stoves because of how much smoke it produces. I now have an electric heater and it has been working less and less this Fall season. I will probably need to have it repaired soon.
Brandon Roberts says
I really appreciate you talking about this, and letting me know about how much my heating is going to be during the winter. It makes sense why it is going to be higher then normal. But I really appreciate you letting me know of few different ways I can prevent this from happening. I’ll definitely make sure I try some of these out.
bryan flake says
I don’t know what planet I am from, but I seriously have never seen these shrink wrap product for your window. This could have helped so much last winter when my heater blew up and I temporarily had to insulate my home by other means. Would this stuff block out the heat from the sunlight during the summer?
Ava Laurie says
That airlock idea actually sound pretty good. I have been trying to find a way to heat my home on the cold winters. I will for sure look into the airlock on the door. I am sure a lot of the cold coming through the door.
Correy Smith says
Anne, it looks like you did quite the research in finding the cost of living in the winter. For me, the winter times is quite busy and somewhat troublesome. Mainly because that’s when the heating unit would often stop from working and it just causes quite a stir. Luckily for, a few friends and I were able to fix the unit and find the problem of the issue. http://www.trirom.ca/en/
Keara Littner says
I honestly don’t think my family would be able to get through the winter if we only had a wood stove to heat the house. Though, it would definitely be nice if we could get by just using that. It might be nice if we could get one installed to help reduce our usual heating bills during the colder months.
I thin having a wood burning stove would be great for heating costs. I have also heard of solar water heaters. That is something I need to look more into as well. This was fun to read. Thanks for sharing.
Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com says
Man, you guys all live in the arctic! Here we get below freezing and it’s cold! More worried about keeping costs down during the 110 degree summers!
Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com recently posted…How Rich Are Top Income Earners?
That’s the flip side of the coin!
DC @ Young Adult Money says
We have some old windows that we need to replace but will wait as long as possible (there’s just so many other things I would rather use $15-$20 grand for. Our heating expenses are directly related to how harsh/mild the Winter is, but we definitely see an increase during the Winter. The window shrink wrap works great…or I should say worked great until we adopted our cats. One of them destroys the shrink wrap, so we’ve had to deal with not wrapping some of our windows.
DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…Why Making Money is better than Saving Money
Hahaha! Silly cats, that’s hilarious! Windows are bloody expensive to replace, that’s for sure.
Petrish @ Debt Free Martini says
I am so spoiled when it comes to this department for I have been living in Navy base housing for the last 2 years so I don’t pay utility bills. So this is one of the reasons why I can afford to pay off so much debt per month. When I did pay utilities I never skimped on the heating, for I hate, hate, hate the cold.
Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…Blogging My Way
That is an amazing perk!! I am with you on hating on the cold… I don’t think I could go back to living at the temperatures I did in university.
While winter temps generally hover around 20C during the day and between 8-12C during the night we were surprised to find our electricity bill almost doubled during the winter season. Normally when it’s cold, I’d just add a layer of clothing and not bother with heating but as our son was born just before winter started we were using a heater in our bedroom to ensure the temperature was just right for him.
Kasia recently posted…Do you need a mortgage broker?
You are far from the first person I have heard of heating rooms more when they have kiddos!
Amanda @ My Life, I Guess says
Our hydro bill is about twice as high in January than it is in July. I really wish we could do more to weather proof our house then closing the vents in the rooms we barely use. Our front door is so drafty!
Amanda @ My Life, I Guess recently posted…How to Blog Better: On Your Mark, Get Set, Blog!
You can get one of those sexy towel roll things to go along the bottom, haha!
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says
We’re on an equal billing plan and pay $62/month all year round. We have a forced air gas furnace that’s pushing 20 years old and we wear sweaters and slippers.
When I lived in a condo my utilities were all included too. But it got so much sun that I usually turned the furnace off in the winter anyway! At least during the afternoon!
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted…Early Retirement Extreme isn’t Our Goal
Our place gets crazy warm due to rising heat and a stone wall on one side that receives a ton of sunlight.
Equal billing must be very convenient.
My heating bill gets ridiculous in the winter and our windows are pretty weak so I’ve seriously considered wrapping them in the winter. I haven’t done it before myself, but my parents always did it when we were kids and it worked wonders.
Chonce recently posted…Staying Motivated During Your Debt Payoff Journey
It’s really not that hard or terribly expensive, it just doesn’t look that awesome. I had one right next to my bed in university and it was soooo much less drafty after I put the plastic up each winter.
And don’t forget to stop cold air from flowing into your home through the fireplace. Even with the damper shut, cold air sweeps down our chimney on windy days and nights, and cools our living room. So far my best solution is duct tape and towels, though I’m looking for better insulators.
Aaron recently posted…Travel Like a Local and Get $10 to Start
Great point! I only have gas fireplaces, but that is a huge thing for wood stoves when they aren’t running.
Our place in our hometown needs a major overhaul on this front. It has new windows, so they seal well, but the basement is still in it’s 70’s glory of 1/2” styrofoam right onto the cinder blocks. Yeah, it needs to be studded and insulated, and I’m sure it would make a huge difference in the heat lost, but we’re not going it right now. We also need to tidy up some weather stripping on the front and back door.
Alicia recently posted…I Finally Get Dividend Investors!
New windows is amazing. My university house had a hole in the basement large enough to see outside through, until my Dad plugged it when he came to visit. A lot of projects like reinsulating your basement are difficult to financially justify, because it won’t necessarily pay itself back in a reasonable time frame.
Shannon @ Financially Blonde says
I was just talking to my hubby this weekend about the fact that we have to do more to insulate our home. It’s 25 years old with it’s original windows and I know that we have draft issues, and with the crazy cold winters we have had the last two years, we need a better solution than what we have in place now, which is not much.
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
My electric bill rises always in winter. But I try to minimize it by turning down my water heater’s temperature and purchasing an programmable thermostat.
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Real Estate Investments: Comparing London to New York
Programmable thermostats are awesome!