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Winter Heating Cost Cutting

Money Saving Tip of the Month (featured column)
submitted by Brandy Vadala

We live in the northeast, so as you imagine, home heating costs can be rather expensive. In addition to that, our home does NOT have insulation because it was built in 1913 and has only plaster-and-lathe. We rent, and pay our own heating costs. We have used a multi-step process to reduce our heating costs.

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We keep the thermostat set at 62F. If we have company coming over, we might turn it up to 65F for the duration of the visit. It takes a while to get used to the colder temperature, but it saves us a ton of money.

We wear fleece pjs and two pairs of thick socks. I sew, so I’ve been able to make fleece pjs for the whole family for about $15 worth of fabric, as well as my time. You can pick up inexpensive fleece pjs at the end-of-season sales. Box stores like Old Navy tend to have good sales on these items in November-December.

All of the doors in our home have draft-stoppers. I have made them myself out of fleece fabric and foam pipe insulation. They cost practically nothing to make. I got the instructions off the web.

We have used window-sealing kits for all of the windows in the home. Believe it or not, once the windows are sealed the room heats up about 5 F! You can get these at any hardware or big box store.

We wash all our laundry in cold water. On occasion we use a hot-water cycle, if there is an exceptionally soiled load, or we have been sick (want to kill all the germs). This hasn’t seemed to affect the cleanliness of the clothes. I also use the washing machine plastic agitator balls and dryer balls to get a little more cleansing power out of the soap.

We have electric space heaters in the bedroom. About 30 min before we go to bed, I turn them on to heat up the room a little bit. One the one hand, we will have a higher electrical bill for the month.. but given that home heating fuel is approaching $4/gallon, it is a tradeoff we are comfortable making!

Once we’ve done all this, our heating costs have been very reduced. We only use about 150-200 gallons of fuel oil a year, where the average family in our area uses about 1000!

I also work out of my car, and I have a 3-year old. Therefore my car gets messy quite often! To keep it clean, I do a couple of things. First I keep some wadded up grocery bags in a small Ziploc bag. When I want to get trash out of the car, I just grab one of the bags, and pick it up, and haul it out. To clean the car I don’t use expensive automotive products. I get a pack of baby wipes from the dollar store. They usually are stored in a resealable container, and they pick up lint, dust, and ink without drying out or damaging the dashboard. One pack can last you a very long time.

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Copyright © 2011 by Brandy Vadala. All rights reserved.

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