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View Full Version : Lowering our utilities 2008


binny
01-20-2008, 07:27 PM
Utilities are a HUGE issue for us.

I dont like to freeze my kids out so there is only so low I will take my heat (nat. gas) but I really need to bring down costs.

So here is what I have planned so far

we live in a largish (3300 sq ft) 40 year old house. we replaced 3 of teh upstairs windows last year and that did help but we have 11 more to do that are original. 2 for sure have to go this year the seal is gone ( they get moisture between them).
For now though we have purchased heavy drapes for all windows so that helps keep the heat in.

We are replacing our old wooden front door. It is COLD! You can put your hand next to it and feel the cold. We are ordering a steel door that is energy star, and putting a storm door on it. It also has single pane windows for the side lights so that all has to go.

We watch how many lights we have on and have greatly reduced our water usage.


What are some other ideas of what we can do?

Would you like to join me in this quest?

mrsklamc
01-20-2008, 07:52 PM
We need to put new weatherstripping under our front door. In the meantime, I have a rolled up towel there. I am considering putting plastic over the sliding door in the basement since we never use it.

minnie1928
01-20-2008, 07:52 PM
Get some of the plastic shrink wrap that seals your windows. I use it on my gas fireplace (we don't actually use the fireplace...too expensive!) all year long and it has made a HUGE difference in air loss. Also, get the foam gaskets at Lowes/Home Depot to seal your electrical outlets and light switches and plug your outlets with those childproof caps. The foam gaskets and the plugs will help keep out drafts and only cost a few dollars. If you have any rooms that you aren't using, close the vents and the door to the room to decrease the amount of space you need to heat.

comicguy
01-20-2008, 08:03 PM
Replace incandecent bulbs w/CFL's. I have changed about half the bulbs in my house(as they needed to be) and that has dropped our electric bill. I am also replacing windows as we have "extra" money(5 down, 12 more to go).

It seems each time we replace a window our heating cost decreases. It also helps that I get a 25.00 rebate from the state and I can take a deduction on my Federal tax return.

mickeyfan2
01-20-2008, 08:12 PM
1) Insulation in the side walls and roof
2) Multiple zones of heat and A/C. This can be done with a single boiler and valves.
3) Double cell blinds
4) CFL; LEDs at Christmas

lorax123
01-20-2008, 08:32 PM
Get some of the plastic shrink wrap that seals your windows. I use it on my gas fireplace (we don't actually use the fireplace...too expensive!) all year long and it has made a HUGE difference in air loss. Also, get the foam gaskets at Lowes/Home Depot to seal your electrical outlets and light switches and plug your outlets with those childproof caps. The foam gaskets and the plugs will help keep out drafts and only cost a few dollars. If you have any rooms that you aren't using, close the vents and the door to the room to decrease the amount of space you need to heat.

I have one of the vented gas fireplaces too. the thing is so drafty and it just sucks up the propane, so we never use it either. I stuffed the vent with insulation and stuck newspaer in to keep down the draft, but I think i'll follow your lead and plastic it up. Can you do it behind the glass? I don't want it looking hideous!

What foam gaskets are you talking about for the outlets? The kind for the outdoor receptacles or something similar for indoor outlets? This sounds like a good idea.

briarberry
01-20-2008, 08:50 PM
I have replaced all the lightbulbs too. I also got a new HE washing machine. What a difference it makes! The dryer is still an old one but it doesn't need to run as long because the new washer wrings the clothes out so well. We also have a setback thermostat which is great. I also got a copy of the grid charges from the utility company (it came with a bill one time). I just run my dishwasher and if I can my washing machine when the grid charges are the lowest (after 10:00 p.m. and weekends). I turn the dishwasher on before I go to bed when the charges are much, much lower and in the morning the dishes are clean and I can put them away then.
:tinker:

becca011906
01-20-2008, 10:15 PM
Check your fridge and freezer temps i check my deep freeze a few weeks ago (after getting a $300 electric bill !!!!) and it was -8* in there no reason for that turned up to keep about 0* . Also i have agree in an older house the windows need the shrink wrap stuff. go around with a candle and see where air in coming in or being pulled out. BE sure you check your filters as well on the furnace. turn off or unplug stuff you aren't using... phone chargers, computers... wash on cold if you can.... humm i know there's more stuff we do it's just not on the top of my head right now.

spalady
01-21-2008, 08:05 AM
Don't leave the tv on when not watcching it especially the new big hdtv's they suck up the electric.

Mellie2162
01-21-2008, 08:11 AM
We have a big house too and the utilities are killing us here. Ive tried lots of different thing, we even got new siding last year with new insulation and nothing has helped. We have decided to put our house on teh market and find a much much smaller house. Something big enough for us but not near as many rooms as we have now.

Cindy B
01-21-2008, 08:27 AM
We have a smallish house and the new windows have really helped us.

We were lucky to have had broken Anderson windows under warranty so we got 17 windows for free. (Even though the window was free, DH had to paint the one side and install himself)

It has really helped a lot.

Check to see if you have Andersen windows and if it is still under warranty. We were not the original homeowners but we had Andersen's that were put in January 1988. These windows have a 20 year old warranty so we were able to get replacements.

Granted we had to email/call/email again but it was worth it in the long run.

Cindy B
01-21-2008, 08:29 AM
Replace incandecent bulbs w/CFL's. I have changed about half the bulbs in my house(as they needed to be) and that has dropped our electric bill. I am also replacing windows as we have "extra" money(5 down, 12 more to go).

It seems each time we replace a window our heating cost decreases. It also helps that I get a 25.00 rebate from the state and I can take a deduction on my Federal tax return.

Tell me about this deduction. We have to buy a new furnace this week and I'm always looking for more ways to save.

Thanks!

Green Tea
01-21-2008, 09:00 AM
You can do most wash in cold water. Warm really doesn't make much difference. Sheets and towels still get hot water, but cutting down on 'warm' has cut the bill.

When we are on vacation I turn off the hot water heaters. Not for a weekend, but for 2 week trips it is a savings.

I just changed out all my lightbulbs to CFBs.

binny
01-21-2008, 09:14 AM
Our county is giving out very low interest loans to lower income people who needs improvements. Low income is a relative term though. I thought the limits were really generous.

The loan is a at 3% and they can stretch it out for up to 20 years. So a furnace and insulation and a few other things that we had discussed worked out to be under $30/month. It was an amazing deal. I am going to call on it tomorrow. There were other stipulations as well, you have to use someone approved by them, or someone who is willing to apply to be approved by them and whatever you buy ha sto be Energy star.

SandraVB79
01-21-2008, 09:19 AM
Solar panels for warm water. It's an investment, but in the long run, it's worth it!

Disneyoverload42
01-21-2008, 10:00 AM
Don't leave the tv on when not watcching it especially the new big hdtv's they suck up the electric.

computer monitors, speakers & printers also - even if you leave your cpu on.

There is also a new window film you can buy for the actual glass that you can't see but it helps use the sun's rays - it's clear not like the old black stuff and it actually goes directly on the windows... I'll see if I can find the name of it.

We have door draft dodgers (the kind with a roll on both sides of the door). We didn't put plastic up on our sun porch this year and we can tell the difference over last year... we just ran out of time and it cost us :guilty:

I'm trying to figure out what to do around our baseboards, that seems to be where we have drafts... any ideas (our house is around 100 + years old and still mostly plaster - we plan on dry walling some day

Love the fireplace idea!!)

tinkarooni
01-21-2008, 01:15 PM
If you replace your doors or windows there is an energy tax credit that you can get. We used the door one a couple of years ago.

Ever since I learned how much power things suck down I have been vigilant about putting the computers (two one personal and one for work) on power strips and turning the whole shebang off by the strip. Also tv's, we have satellite boxes that always have a little light on. I make sure those are always turned off. Have cut the electric bill down by approx $12.00 per month.

For heat we installed about three years ago a fireplace insert which burns wood. Saves us a fortune on propane even if we have to burn wood. Cost about $3,000 but we've already made that back in three years savings on propane....expecially now. My total cost for propane last year was less that $700. for a 3000 sq ft home. We use it to cook, hot water and heat. We just topped it off and are looking good until sometime over the summer. Huge savings for us!

Good Luck.

MiniGirl
01-21-2008, 01:33 PM
We're in Florida, so our big bills are in the summer with the a/c. We live in a 2 story house, and like a pp, are considering moving to a smaller house.

Before going to bed, I not only make sure things downstairs are not only turned off, but unplugged as well. When I get up in the morning, I do the same thing upstairs before I come down for the day. We will also "camp" out downstairs quite a lot during the summer. This way the upstairs unit doesn't run much at all.

We've also done things others have mentioned here. These are just things I haven't read about yet. They aren't huge $$/energy savers, but every little bit, right?

binny
01-21-2008, 01:58 PM
I thought this site was really interesting

sorry I meant this one

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/shopping_guide.html

Minnie's Pal
01-21-2008, 01:59 PM
I also got a new HE washing machine. What a difference it makes! The dryer is still an old one but it doesn't need to run as long because the new washer wrings the clothes out so well.


Did that really make a noticeable difference in your power bill?

I'd love to have a new set. Our family has grown from 3 to 5 since we last purchased a new washer & dryer. (That was at least 8 years ago.) I need the largest capacity you can get, but I couldn't justify the expense when what we have is still working. But if it would make a noticeable difference in our "already too high" power bill, that may give us the extra incentive to sell our old set and go with something new.

flakypuff
01-21-2008, 02:11 PM
Our county is giving out very low interest loans to lower income people who needs improvements. Low income is a relative term though. I thought the limits were really generous.

The loan is a at 3% and they can stretch it out for up to 20 years. So a furnace and insulation and a few other things that we had discussed worked out to be under $30/month. It was an amazing deal. I am going to call on it tomorrow. There were other stipulations as well, you have to use someone approved by them, or someone who is willing to apply to be approved by them and whatever you buy ha sto be Energy star.:flower3: our country as the USA?:lovestruc

binny
01-21-2008, 02:17 PM
:flower3: our country as the USA?:lovestruc

I wish! No, county as in the district that I live in. Actually the more I got to looking at it I think it is a City loan so that may be worth your while to check out, to see if your city offers something similar.

rluey29
01-21-2008, 02:17 PM
:flower3: our country as the USA?:lovestruc

It says county, not country. :rotfl:

You could also try wrapping your water heater with insulation.

minnie1928
01-21-2008, 03:37 PM
I have one of the vented gas fireplaces too. the thing is so drafty and it just sucks up the propane, so we never use it either. I stuffed the vent with insulation and stuck newspaer in to keep down the draft, but I think i'll follow your lead and plastic it up. Can you do it behind the glass? I don't want it looking hideous!

What foam gaskets are you talking about for the outlets? The kind for the outdoor receptacles or something similar for indoor outlets? This sounds like a good idea.

The way I covered mine was by placing the double sided sticky tape on the painted wood fireplace trim (surrounding the slate) on the top, left and right sides. However, the bottom piece of slate is against the carpet and the sticky tape doesn't stick to the slate. So what I did was cut the plastic longer on the bottom, so that there is several inches laying on the ground. Then I rolled up a throw blanket (that is the same color as my carpet, so it really blends in) to lay on top of the excess plastic. While it's not 100% airtight, it's amazing how much better it is! I also use a fireplace screen and I'd venture to say that 99% of those that visit my house never even see the plastic covering the fireplace. The trick is getting the plastic really tight using the hair dryer to shrink it, the tighter it is the less you "see" it.

The foam gaskets are located with the window plastic at Home Depot/Lowes and they are made by the same company (Frost King?). They are super cheap, I think I paid $2 for a package of several gaskets.