Cutting Heating/Energy Expenses Around the House

Since we moved into our new home I have spent a bit of time focusing on reducing the heating/energy consumption of the house. The house was ripe with opportunity:

  • I repaired weatherstripping around the exterior doors to ensure there was a good seal.
  • I added door sweeps to the exterior doors to reduce air flow underneath the doors.
  • I installed a programmable thermostat upstairs and set the heat for as low as we could tolerate.
  • I installed outlet foam sealers and outlet caps to seal outlets from cold air.
  • I closed the chimney flue.
  • I installed weatherstripping on the attic door for a better air seal.
  • I installed weatherstripping on the attic foam box as another seal around the attic door
  • I purchased a roll of insulation with the intention of insulating the attic foam box
  • I plan on buying a second programmable thermostat for downstairs.
  • I turned down both heating elements in our water heater to the lowest setting.
  • I closed off an unused bedroom by shutting the air vents and doors.

I also plan to get under the house and verify the insulation in the crawspace and in the attic. I will also look for gaps where the cold air might be getting into the walls. Any other low hanging fruit out there?

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Comments (11)


Put insulation around the water heater and about 10ft from the heater

For about as much as you'd spend on a programmable thermostat for your furnace, you can buy a a programmable timer for your hot water heater. If, like most people, you're away from home for a good part of the day, there's no need to waste money by keeping your water heated at all times. My timer is set to go on for only 3 hours a day and i've noticed no lack of hot water.

For years I've thought that I needed to add weather-stripping to our back doors, but I never get around to it. No question that I feel cold air coming in around those doors.

I'm surprised that you can stand to have the water heaters turned down all the way. I've had to turn mine up so that my wife doesn't run out of hot water when running a bath.

Also, I've read multiple times that water heaters do a pretty good job of maintaining temperature without using a lot of energy (when the water isn't being used, obviously), so I'm not sure how useful an area of focus that is.

You can save a small fortune on your electric bill by using 2 or 3 space heaters strategically placed throughout your home and keeping the thermostat at 61 or 62 degrees.

I went from $450 / month for a large house to $100 / month by doing this when my wife and I were on a tight budget a few years ago.

"I closed off an unused bedroom by shutting the air vents and doors"

We do that to , however I read in a number of places that it makes the furnace work less efficiently by restricting the air flow

re Eric's comment:

Insulation around the water heater is not always a good idea. We put in a new water heater into our house and we were told NOT to put any insluation on it. I would suggest looking into whether your water heater needs the additional insulation before buying an insulation blanket. One thing you can do, though, is put foam insulation on your hot water pipes if it isn't there already.

do they timers for gas water heaters?

Dawn, I am curious to hear more about a water heater timer - where can I find them?

concerned - my wife and I have been talking about getting a couple space heaters - we may be getting some here at some point.

re Chris's comment:

What is the reason that it is not a good idea? Insulation is cheap ~15 dollars and is out side of the casing so won't interfere with how the water heater functions.

If you do a search for "hot water heater timers" online, you'll see a bunch of search results. A quick check showed me that Lowest (for one) carries them.

Thank you for the suggestions! My family is currently replacing weatherstripping on our doors.

For more tips on reducing energy costs check out: http://buildakinderearth.com/energy/stay-cool-this-summer-and-help-the-environment/

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