How much are you spending on heat?

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, ALJanuary 8, 2013

Since we decided to not run the central heat pump and just use 3 radiant electric heaters, we are spending a LOT less. The bill for last month was only $80 more than the previous month when nothing was running (heat or cool.) One of the heaters is turned off & door closed during the daytime M-F. I leave a ceiling fan on in a central room all the time, on low, to keep air gently moving throughout the house all the time (except that one room while the door's closed.)

Heating with the heat pump is about twice that, and we always feel cold with wind blowing out of the vents. I also can't stand static in my hair, a problem we don't have currently.

Our change of spending about half has resulted in more comfort. The thermostat says it's about 66 degrees in here most of the time, but we are more comfortable than when we set the heat pump on 72-73.

For comparison to other climates, the gap between inside/outside temp has held steady at an average of about 30 degrees for December at night, 5-15 during the daytime.

How do you deal with the heat? What's the gap? How much does it cost?

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Amount of insulation and square footage are variable you are not considering.

I spent $611.88 for gas last year (furnace and hot water).
My 'gap' as you define it was been as much as 70 degrees.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yes, I was asking people to compare to themselves, to bills in previous years. I don't think there's any insulation here.

Your expense sounds very reasonable where you are.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Depending on the type of radiant heaters you are using your cost could be higher than you think. Some things that are sold as radiant heaters are no more than red light bulbs that give off heat, Some are oil or water filled grills, the most common have wire coils. All can catch things on fire and the last type is the most common to cause house fires when they overheat or fall on their sides.

I have a regular furnace and generally spend less than $500 a year. Currently have level pay self set at $85 and have +$500 balance for the rest of the winter. If no insulation adding film and caulking around windows and doors can reduce the cost of heating. There are directional vents that can be added or changed out for your current vents to direct the air away from where you normally sit.

Our temps range down to 8F with the stat set at 68 days 58 nights. We do use blankets at night.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:06AM
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We own a woodlot, cut our own wood, and have a fab insert that heats the entire house. Of course the blower uses power but I have no way of calculating how much. My winter electricity usage always goes way up anyway because of the lighting in my orchid room. Those lights produce an enormous amount of heat but the setup is in my garage so I doubt it contributes too much to my home temperatures.

The insert and chimney liner were not cheap but over the years will pay for themselves.
I do have heated mattress pads on all of the beds but rarely use them for anything other than a pre-heat before I get in. Husband generates all the heat I need, so much so that I have another bed I use when hot flashes plus husband equals unendurable warmth.

The family room that contains the insert stays around 72 degrees F, the main house around 68, and the back bedrooms around 63 which is IMO great for sleeping.
One bathroom is a bit chilly (maybe 60 ish) when it gets below about 25 outside, but you get used to it and no one dawdles.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:48AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I do wish we had a fireplace. I wouldn't mind chopping wood at all.

I don't know who's pic this is, but it was handy on a google search.

That's the kind of heater I'm talking about. It's the safest kind from what I could tell when I was researching them. They cost about $40-$60.

I know we're saving money. Our bill is about half of what it used to be during the same months, even with a 2nd refrigerator running. Even if it cost the same, I wouldn't go back to the old way because of the dry air, hair static, itchy skin.

Cearbhail, I know what you mean about a cold bathroom. We keep the bathroom door shut if it's below about 50 outside. No dawdling is accurate!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Sitting here in the middle of Kansas we try never to use our forced-air natural gas furnace and use a Sun Cloud Infrared Heater and one solar panel for heat. Using a Watt-A-Meter to check the cost of the Sun Cloud, it averaged 2-cents per hour when we checked it for 543 hours (and that was before we had solar installed). The savings on utilities paid for the Sun Cloud the first winter we used it.

In fact, we didn't use our furnace at all last winter and have only used it for 5 days this winter while out of state during Christmas. We only heat our "public" space - living, dining, kitchen and guest bath.

Our 1,372-sq. ft. home is 6-years old with energy efficient windows and insulated Levolor shades. The first winter, and every winter since, we put bubble wrap on all our windows and that has helped with energy use. I also made insulated drapes to cover our front and back doors (which are both in our living room). The bubble wrap is a great diy project for folks who rent, because it's reversible, or people who live in older homes without energy efficient windows or storm windows. (Check link below for more information.)


Here is a link that might be useful: Bubblewrap window insulation

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I like that, you can easily take it down/put it back up. It wouldn't be necessary to remove it from the bottom pane to open a window. Looks like we're in for a spell of windows-open, no heater needed weather, 70's daytime, 50's night. Not unusual here, but always a nice surprise.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 3:31PM
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My house is 7 years old and I noticed a big reduction in my gas and elec bills after I moved in. They were less than half of the bills at the home I lived in before. I think with new homes they have the latest energy efficient appliances and better insulation. My house faces the north, the living area faces the south. I leave my blinds open even through there is danger of sun fading my furniture. I think that is also a reason my bills are lower. I love taking a nap in my recliner with the sun coming in.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:21PM
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EmmaR - I'm going to bet you have UV filtering glass in your windows since your home is only 7-years old, so you may not experience as much sun damage as those without UV glass.

Passive solar is great. We had a friend who added a sun room on the south side of their home and installed brick flooring in it which held that warmth long after the sun went down. They also had thermal shutters installed and they closed them over the windows to keep it in.

A tip I got from a heating/cooling technician.... Create an air-lock, such as an interior or exterior vestibule leading into your home. For us it's the laundry room. The door between the laundry room and the kitchen remains closed. We come and go through the garage door, which is in the laundry room. Now the only air exchanged is in a very small room. When the front door or back door is opened the air exchange is a much greater amount that will need to be reheated in the winter and cooled in the summer.

We've also found a number of helpful hints and DIY projects from a couple books:
-Movable Insulation - by William K. Langdon (c. 1980)
-Better Homes and Gardens Energy-Saving Projects You Can Build (c. 1979)


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:57AM
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I don't know what kind of glass is in my windows, builders choice. I do know my utility bills are not bad and the sun felt so good this afternoon for my nap. LOL I don't mind the sun damage, the light and my view from the windows make up for any damage. I heard an owl last night and there have been foxes in the hedgerow behind my home for the last 9 months.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:39PM
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We normally heat with wood. If you are paying for wood around here it is about $300 per chord and we go through a chord or 2 a month in the winter. We also have an oil fired furnace as back up. When we went on vacation over the holidays, we left the temp at 68 for the pets and DH says we burned about 300 gals of heating oil at about $3.60 a we are looking at well over $1000 for this month....eek!

This post was edited by ArcticAngel on Thu, Jan 17, 13 at 19:39

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Dang! I thought heating with wood was a money saver...

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 8:12PM
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It is....even buying wood, we und up spending half of what we spend on oil. We just moved into our house in October so we didnt get a chance to fell our own wood, we plan to do that for next year....then it will cost even less!!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 8:29PM
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The picture of that electric heater is the kind my daughter had. After using it about a year one evening it caught on fire and my son-in-law grabbed it and tossed it out the door. I have seen two more that had the wheels broke off, so please be very careful of this type.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:33AM
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I'm not sure how to break down what our heat alone costs. Our house is a ranch with over 5200 sq ft finished (in northern Wisconsin), and is all electric except for the gas fireplace and the cooktop. Our heat is provided by geothermal. We do have a back up furnace, but we've never used it. We keep the temp between 68-70 during the day, and 64 at night. Outside temps vary considerably in our area. Today it is in the 40s, but the high tomorrow and Monday is supposed to be -1. Yes, the HIGH is expected to be 1 below zero! Our total utility bill is close to $250/month which includes our electric bill and approx $80 for water treatment (we have horribly hard water). We will probably purchase our own water treatment appliance in the near future; we were just trying out this service to see if it really made a big difference. Our hot water heater is the super-insulated 105 gallon Rheem model. We turn it off when we go out of town, and if we are gone 7-10 days, we still have water hot enough to shower when we get back. Very energy effecient. One other thing, we are on some kind of energy rate with our electric company, and they will turn off the electricity to our heat pump and hot water heater for 4 hours at a time. We never notice when it's off; the house stays toasty, and we always have hot water. We live on wooded property, so if electric rates go way up, we would probably start using the wood. We have a perfect place for a wood burner. Although, to be honest, we really don't want to bother with the mess at our ages (late 60s).

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 3:47PM
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Arctic Angel, where do you live? 300 for a cord is highway robbery! Here in New Jersey its around 160 max. I cut and split my own wood thank God or I would be paying 450-500 a month for oil.

This post was edited by HopsNCrops on Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 20:51

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 8:49PM
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We're in Southern Vermont where it only goes to minus 20 in the winter. We use a woodstove and we went through just over 2 cords of firewood. Cost? Just under $300 for all our heat.

We have an oil fired furnace for backup and we went through about 50 gallons of oil.

So it was about $500 for the winter, and here in Vermont that's pretty good.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Purpleinopp, my experience was the exact opposite. When I first moved in my tiny house about a year and a half ago, during the winter I used those oil-filled electric heaters you pictured because the central heat system needed work.
This winter with the central heat repaired I spent much less, perhaps because gas costs less than electricity.
I do use room A/C though and that is a savings over central air which needed more work and I did not have it done.
I'm in Texas and our winters are generally pretty mild.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:27PM
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