The Controversy Behind Lowering Your Heating Bill
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There was one controversial issue the candidates didn’t dare address in the last election. In fact, the media avoided including the topic in their repetitive and ubiquitous polls. Solutions for this controversy are so diverse that finding common ground seemed impossible. The issue: how to save money on heating costs. When arctic blasts invade your neighborhood and temperatures plummet to conditions suitable only for polar bears and meat lockers, what methods do you employ to keep from burning money to stay warm? The answers are not as cut and dry as you might think. The following are responses we received to this very question. They are reported in no specific order. Instead, they are categorized according to type of response.
Most common answer: wear warmer clothes
The pragmatic prevailed by emphasizing the basic idea of wearing warm clothes in the winter, even indoors. Give up the notion of cranking the heat up to 80 degrees and donning a tank top and shorts to lounge around the house. Save some money by lowering the room temperature and wearing a hoodie and wool socks, snuggling under a blanket or sliding between some flannel sheets.
Most controversial answer #1: programmable thermostats
Political debates would have been lively had the concept of a programmable thermostat been mentioned by moderators. There is no middle ground when it comes to opinions about the effectiveness of programmable thermostats; you are either pro or con. There is no in-between. Kimberly Gauthier, Editor in Chief of Keep the Tail Wagging, is a proponent of keeping the thermostat at one temperature, negating the need for a programmable thermostat. Josh Elledge from Savings Angel, on the other hand, speaks of the value of programmable thermostats in the winter and the summer. He argues that there is no point in heating the home when you aren’t in it. And Chris Sands of oXYGen Financial states in no uncertain terms: “Programming a thermostat actually DOES NOT help, it hurts!”
The arguments center on whether or not the heating unit uses additional energy to return the home to a certain temperature after it has cooled during the day while you were away. Some say it requires less energy to maintain a steady temp, while others disagree and see the time away from home as time to potentially save heating costs.
Most creative answer: pilfer from your neighbors
Those who think outside the box are those who become great inventors or pioneers. Creativity can be beneficial. Jovim Ventura of InoPrints told of his accidental money saving discovery: moving into a third floor apartment. The heat from the lower levels of the building rises and heats his home, meaning he gleans heat from his neighbors legally. Additionally, Ventura champions the idea of climbing flights of stairs to keep warm and stay in shape.
Honorable mention in the category of most creative answer: learn from your cat
Jamie Ortiz of Jamie Ortiz Communications reminds everyone of the beauty and effectiveness of simplicity. She shared her strategy for staying warm while reading a book: sitting by the window with the most sunlight. Cats have long employed this strategy and found the most potent sunbeam in the home for naps. It’s solar energy without the cost of solar panels.
Most controversial answer #2: vents
While there was agreement about not heating rooms you don’t use, there remains controversy over what to do with the vents in those rooms after you close the door: close the vents or leave them open. Gauthier and Sands say to close them for savings; while Elledge says doing so only adds pressure to the ducts and wears down the heating system.
Most unexpected answer: ceiling fans
When discussing how to save on heating costs, one anticipates hearing about fireplaces and space heaters, not ceiling fans. However, after being on opposite sides of the most controversial answers, Sands and Elledge agree on the value of ceiling fans even in the winter. At the lowest setting, or when spinning in reverse, ceiling fans move warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
Least controversial answer: plug the holes
Much like unnecessary expenditures that leak enough to bleed a budget dry, letting heat escape through holes in your home is fiscally irresponsible. Everyone seemed to agree that keeping the warm air in and the cold air out was a good way to save on heating costs. There were, of course, differences of opinions about which holes to plug, doggie doors, windowsills and fireplace flumes being some of the suggestions.
Most hygienic controversial answer: manage shower times
One respondent said he takes showers at the gym to save the energy required to heat the water in his home. Others mentioned using shower timers to help shorten shower time. Winter water is colder than summer water before it reaches the hot water heater. You could insulate your hot water heater to help it retain heat, purchase one that only heats water as you need it or take faster showers.
Ironically, one of the individuals who recommended managing your hot water usage also suggested purchasing a humidifier. Fact: moist air retains heat longer than dry air. This is why it gets so cold in the desert at night. Instead of managing shower time and spending money to create humidity, couldn’t a household warm itself with shower humidity? The jury is still out about home humidity levels, but good hygiene remains a valuable social skill regardless of the temperature.
Other possible answers
Surprisingly enough, there was not one mention of adding insulation. Elledge mentioned getting a home energy assessment, which would likely include examining the home’s insulation efficiency, but said nothing of adding a layer of insulation in the attic. Cheaper than the cost of installing solar energy panels on your home are these practical tips:
- Drink hot beverages. Stay warm from the inside out by consuming your favorite hot drink. Cocoa, apple cider, coffee, herbal tea or some warm brandy will help keep the chill away.
- Use your oven. When you cook meals at home, you use energy to heat the oven to the proper setting anyway. After the meal is ready, leave the oven door ajar while the oven cools to let the warm air into your home. Hint: if you bake cookies, your home will be warm and smell nice.
- Sit by the dryer. Like your oven, the dryer can serve multiple purposes in the winter. Lean against the dryer while finishing a load of laundry to absorb its heat emissions; leave the laundry room door open so the dryer heat can seep into the rest of the house; or throw your socks, towel or favorite sweatshirt in for a short spin before you put it on while it’s toasty warm.
Surely some of you have your own tricks for staying warm in the winter that doesn’t involve cranking up the thermostat. Controversial or not, we want your ideas on the issue. Where do you stand on lowering the costs of heating?
While you’re here checkout our BLUE PROTECTION PLAN to make sure your heating and cooling equipment is operating at peak performance.
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