This winter has been brutal -- both in temperatures and on the budget. More and more people are feeling the pressure of trying to keep their homes warm while not blowing their budget. However you heat your home, keeping the electric and heating bills at a manageable level isn't easy and takes some work. Here are a few ways my family is trying to stay warm while sticking to a tight budget.
We have a propane furnace in our home that relies upon an electric ignition. Last year, that was our primary heat source. Unfortunately, the cost of propane has been more than we could manage and in my home state of Illinois, there have even been propane shortages that have sent the price skyrocketing to around $5 per gallon.
Thankfully, we have a woodstove in the basement of our home so we decided earlier in the year to put it back into use in order to cut down on our gas bill. I am very thankful we did so as this year's winter in my region has had ice, snow and arctic temperatures. We cut the wood from our own property and the wood heat will probably save us between $500 and $1000 or more between gas and electric costs this year.
Sure, keeping a home at a constant 70 degrees is great, but it's not realistic. Since we are not running the gas furnace regularly (I keep it set on 64 degrees), it is important that everyone in our house wears layers and helps themselves in order to stay warm. We all sleep in warm pajamas and keep plenty of blankets on our beds.
Weatherizing Doors and Windows
The two bedrooms in our house that stay the coldest are also the farthest from all heat sources. Those two bedrooms also have multiple windows that allow cold air in. I used window insulating kits on each of those windows to help keep out some of the cold air. Each kit cost around $5 and the rooms are staying warmer.
I hung a blanket over an unused door and used fabric to insulate two other doors. While these tricks don't make a huge difference, they make enough of a difference to be worth the effort.
Use a Mud Room
This may not be an option for everyone, but if you have an entry room that can be closed off, you will be able to keep some of the cold out of the main part of the house while your family comes and goes. We have an enclosed porch at our back door that is used as the main entrance. We don or doff our coats and boots on the porch and are able to use it as sort of an airlock to keep the cold air at bay.
Keep Track of Costs
It isn't easy to say exactly how much money we are saving this year by using these practices, but I know that while neighbors are grumbling about $400 and $500 electric bills and $1000 or more gas bills, we are keeping our electric bill at a reasonable ($200-300) level and our gas bill by the end of the winter will be less than $500 (in comparison with $1000-2000).
- Budget, Tax & Economy