Buyer Beware: Saving on home heating costs

(Cayce) Dec. 8, 2004 - Eric Boomhower with SCE&G said last month Shannon Moulder had been wasting a lot of energy, most of it blowing right out the front door, "I can see a little bit of sunlight down here. That tells you that's a place where air can be leaving the house and cool air can be coming in."

He found a draft at the back door too, "This is a real good example of a weather seal stripping here along the door frame that's in need of repair, actually in need of replacement."

Another energy enemy was dirty filters, "This is what the filter looks like when you put it in, this it what yours looks like now, that means your home's heating unit is having to work that much harder."

We also moved furniture away from vents, "There's your vent that's working so hard to heat this room, it's having to fight with eight feet of couch."

Also, check the thermostat, "For every degree above 68 degrees that you're setting your thermostat, you could be seeing your energy bill go up as much as 5 to 10 percent."

Moulder wasn't happy with the assessment, "It's kind of embarrassing, you think you're doing a good job on conserving energy but you're really not."

How much did it cost to fix those problems?

The new weather stripping to seal leaks around the doors costs $3. New air filters, a four pack which will last four months, cost $4.

It didn't cost anything to move furniture away from the vents or to keep an eye on the thermostat, so we spent a total of $7 and it took less than 15 minutes to make the repairs.

What was the impact on Shannon's energy bill? Her October bill was $157.46, but her November bill dropped to $119.72. It's also important to point out we made the changes during the middle of her billing cycle, so that's not even a full month's worth of savings. It's likely her next bill will be even lower.

  • Set your thermostat at 68 degrees while you're home and 55 degrees when sleeping. Wear warm clothing indoors during cold weather.
  • An electric blanket is much less expensive than heating your bedroom.
  • Insulate your water heater. This will pay for itself quickly. And keep it set at 110-120 degrees instead of 140.
  • Open draperies and shades in winter to let in sunshine and close them at night to hold in heat. Remove awnings from sun-exposed windows in cold months. Prune any trees or shrubs that block sunlight.
  • Install storm doors.
  • Heat only those rooms that are in use.
  • Avoid the use of kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, and keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use.
  • Turn off heat when the fireplace is being used.
  • Never use the range or oven to heat the kitchen. This can be dangerous as well as energy inefficient.
  • Weather-strip your attic door to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Dust or vacuum all radiator surfaces frequently. Dust is a wonderful insulator and tends to build up on radiators and baseboard heat vents, keeping heat from dispersing.

You can also look for future energy savings when it comes time to replace large household appliances.

The US Department of Energy sponsors the Energy Star program, which certifies the most energy-efficient appliances on the market. They typically cost more, but can save you enough money on energy to more than pay for the difference.

Buyers beware, before you spend a fortune insulating your home and making renovations, make sure your expenses are worthwhile. Watch out for strange devices and "miracle" schemes that promise to cut your bill in half. Check references and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they have a good track record. It's also a good idea to shop around for several quotes.

By Judi Gatson
Posted 5:45pm by BrettWitt