Household heat efficiency
I've been inspired after reading some of the responses to "What kind of utility costs are you paying?", posted by ellenj. I thought I'd see if anyone else calculates - and works to improve - their household heat efficiency as a money saving method.
A few years ago, I ran across a post explaining how to calculate your home's heat efficiency. It particularly caught my attention because the author lived in an old home in New England, and I'm in an old home in Northeastern Ohio (similar climates, in many ways). The short version is that you do a calculation that takes into account your local climate (via degree days) and the size of your house. That means it can give you an apples-to-apples comparison against other houses.
From the original:
A super efficient home uses less than 3
12% of homes are less than 5
39% of homes are between 5 and 10
24% of homes are between 10 and 15
15% of homes are between 15 and 25
10% will be over 25
Anyway, it's been a tradition of sorts to calculate my home's efficiency after each heating season to see if we've made steps in the right direction. It's a little early to do final numbers for this year (we've had another streak of 40* days, so the heat came back on), but I thought I'd share how we've done so far.
Winter / Usage (in BTUs/degree days/sqft)
05-06 / 11.8
06-07 / 10.8
07-08 / 9.4
We honestly haven't taken any huge (read: expensive) steps, just some little ones that are making a surprising impact. After the first winter, we did some weatherstripping of windows and doors, and started being conscientious about closing curtains at night, etc. Between the second and third winters, more weatherstripping, continued closing curtains/etc at night. I'd say we spent under $20, and definitely got that back in reduced usage.
The only "big" investment was in December 2007 - we installed a programmable thermostat. It was under $50, and took less than an hour to install/program, and we easily made that back within a month or two. The attic definitely needs more insulation, but that's another year or two off due to other projects/priorities.
To put this into money terms - since this is the finance forum! - if we were using gas at the same rate we did in 05-06, and given the degree days we had in 07-08, we would have used an additional 22 MCF this past winter... At March 2008 gas prices, that would have cost us an extra $291.48 this winter alone.