Thoughts on house heating

scrynApril 10, 2008

I once thought that maybe getting solar panels would save us a lot of money however after this winter I know that is wrong! Our electricity usage is inexpensive (about 40 dollars a month even when we have an electric dryer)

however our gas costs keep going up and up! We have been conserving more than ever and our gas cost was still over 200 dollars this past month. We keep our house at 58-60 degrees. We have gas heating, gas water heater, gas stove.

During the summer we use hardly any gas so I know most of the gas is going to heat the house. Our house is old however we do have new windows and insulation (although we want to put in more)

I don't think our gas prices are high because we are not energy efficient, they are high because the gas costs are high. This makes me wonder about people that don't conserve. Are we paying too much still or are people paying 300 and over just for gas!!??

So what can we do about it? I am sure lots of people have this problem. Installing solar won't help us because we don't use electricity to heat our house. We do use a pellet stove to keep costs down.

How can people save money when they are already conserving as much as they can?

Are there any ways that would be more efficient to heat our house?


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I think we will need to know the size of your house -- how many heated square feet? -- and its location -- Minnesota or Mississippi? -- before we can figure out whether your gas prices are in line and what you can do to save.

Some utility companies will conduct energy audits of private homes free of charge, which will tell you if you have air leaks or inadequate insulation, or whatever.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:46AM
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I live in NY (rochester) and we have 1800 sq ft of house.

We have had friends that have had energy audits and do not think that it would be worth the money for us. We have replaced all windows and doors. We have insulation and add more insulation when we can. I am sure we could use more, but with our plaster walls it would be very difficult to add it. We also have air leak "blockers" in all our sockets.

We are hopefully getting a new roof (metal roof) this coming year.

One thing I know we need to do is to get a door for our stairwell because all the heat from downstairs goes upstairs. However we can't find a door that will be tall enough! I am thinking that I will build an insulated curtain for next year. We can't even get a special order door that is tall enough. We would have to go to a woodworker and have it specially made!

our last bill for march states we use an average of 5 therms a day and the average temp was 36 degrees.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 11:48AM
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You could probably fit a standard-size door in your stairwell. You would need to frame it out for the door and fill in the area above and around the door with dry wall or paneling to enclose the entire area, rather than getting a special door made.

If you have an unfinished basement, be sure the area around the sill plate is well insulated. If you have an indoor hatch or drop-down stairs to the attic, make sure this area is also insulated. There are insulating covers now available for the drop-down stairs.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 7:08AM
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I remember reading somewhere that many older homes have little or no insulation in the walls, but don't need it because of the thickness of the walls and the tightness of the construction. However, insulation in the floor of the attic should be a high priority because heat rises. Really good, thick insulation there is vitally important. Another comment: You said you got new windows. Sometimes they're not installed properly and have air leaks. Did you replace whole windows or just the sashes? If just the sashes, that's a simpler job and requires less expertise to get right. But installing whole windows, frames and all, is tricky business. Are you sure yours were done right? Are the windows you got double pane, "Energy Star"? One more thing: Do you have storm doors?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:00PM
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We had the windows installed by professionals and did watch them do it. They were old aluminum, 1 glass pane, windows so they were not original to the house so we replaced them with energy star windows. They really made a HUGE difference!

We also do have nice storm doors.
We have insulation in many of the walls (have seen this when we have done work on the house) but we do not know which walls were insulated for sure. Most of the walls are still plaster. Some of them were replaced when electricity was done and so on.

We are hopefully going to be adding more insulation to the attic. My husband has to install attic steps first. Right now we just have a hole in the ceiling that we can barely fit through! There is insulation up there, but it is hard to see how much.

I am pondering the solar sheet. The only problem with this is that the back of the house (where the sun hits) is the part we spend the least amount of time in. That is where the guest bedroom is.

We currently use a pellet stove and may consider a pellet furnace. We haven't looked much into this. Our current furnace is about 10-12 yrs old and we barely use it because we use the pellet stove most of the time.

We are hoping for a new metal roof this summer (just talked with the roofer this weekend) and this should add some more insulation value to the house, however I am not sure how much.

Is 5 therms a day for our cold weather a good amount or very high!?

thanks for all the suggestions!


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:48AM
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