How to Reduce Winter Gas Heating Bill and the Two Questions I Could Not Answer

6:47 pm

by Jennifer Freeman

 

 

It’s been a cold winter and time to find ways to reduce our natural gas consumption to reduce the monthly bill. There are several things that we have tackled to help our reduction of gas usage and ultimately lowering our expenses. Truthfully, some ways are effective where others seem like a waste of time. Over the years we have tried a few ways to reduce the winter heating bill, but without being consistent the efforts didn’t make any noticeable difference. That changed this winter because of consistency.

The first thing was obvious which is lowering the thermostat as much as we could tolerate. It was down to 60 degrees at night and never went above 65 degrees during the day. It did reduce the bill but quite frankly we were borderline freezing the entire time. This heavily reduced temperature was not going to work for us. However, one caveat is I think we slept better with the temperature very low at night. Now we are keeping the night thermostat set to 62 degrees and it seems to be the perfect night temperature. We are more comfortable with this temperature if we use flannel sheets too. If you don’t have flannel sheets, instead put a blanket on the cold cotton bottom sheet to keep warm. The fuzziness and thickness of the blanket keeps us snugly. It reminds me of camping when it’s super cold out but the fuzzy inside of the sleeping bag keeps us snugly warm.

What Worked to Reduce Our Heating Bill

We kept socks on but not just socks – they are wool socks. Yup…socks! Several years back everyone in the house got a pair for Christmas. It wasn’t until this year that the realization of how incredibly warm they kept our feet became real. Our toes were never cold when wearing them.  In the past, our house temperature was up higher, so the effectiveness of the wool socks wasn’t noticeable.

These wool socks are not scratchy like wool can be. The other way we saved was buying one 5 pair package of the men’s wool socks instead of the women’s wool socks. They were about $1.50 less per pair than the lady’s socks albeit not as pretty. It’s certainly a personal choice and I’d encourage you to do what best suits you and yours. It’s another way of saving is by not getting the “fancy” wool socks. ?

Windows, of course! But this way is different.

Our windows played a big role in our house gas usage and being warm. It wasn’t by replacing them but strategically opening and closing the curtains at the right time during the day. During the day the curtains were opened only when it warmed up a bit outside or the sun was shining in giving natural heat. Now the trick for this to be effective is closing them up at the right time later in the day. We closed the curtains just before dusk and prior to the start of the evening cold. One extra step we did was in our daughters’ room we pinned a heavy beach towel over her windows. It was under the curtain, so it didn’t show. We used simple push pins to hold it up. We were finding her room to be so cold because the sun doesn’t shine in the direction of her room in the winter months and this extra insulation helped to keep the chill out of her room.

One weird trick that seems to work was lighting a candle and getting near the doors and windows. It wasn’t to light our way but to see if the flame was moved by any outside air coming through poorly sealed places. The bonus to this is when fixing the drafts and sealing the openings this will prevent bugs finding their way in too! There were several places that we used spray foam insulator at the windows and under the sink where pipes came into the house. We found a few doors that needed new seals. The sockets in our house had air blowing in through them. The fix we used were these little foam insulation pads that are designed for the outlets.

A couple of other things that quickly helped us save on the gas consumption was turning off the pilot light on the fireplace that was on 24/7 and turning down the water heater slightly.  Leaving the laundry room door open while doing laundry seems to warm up the hallway and after using the oven, I always leave the door open.  This always reminds me of when we were living in Wyoming in a house that was so cold our pillows would stick to the wall because of ice buildup. I would sit at the oven with its door open while it was on just to get my feet warm.  Also, I would put my chair on the floor heater and sit there as often as I could! I would NOT recommend either of these strategies to stay warm.

One very effective routine we have is to let heavy items semi-dry before putting them in the dryer. We use this trick with our heavy body towels, jeans, blankets, and sheets. We clip them to a pant hanger and let them hang inside the laundry room or outside until they are about 75% dry and only slightly damp. At this time, we put them in the dryer to finish up drying. We get the fluffing benefits of the dryer without the items being in the dryer long. This technique greatly reduces the time the dryer is on and the items are not stiff like only line drying can cause. Plus, I have a mental thing about needing the sheets to hit a high temp to make sure they are sanitized.

 

What do you think?
Will either of these ideas help with gas consumption?

First, does putting a dry towel in with wet items help?  I had someone tell me this technique will help the clothes dry faster and reducing the drying time.  To me, it won’t reduce the humidity level in the dryer at all because the same moisture is still enclosed in the dryer. What do you think? Yeah or Nay?

And the other question that I could never confirm to be helping us to save is, when using the gas dryer will there be a gas savings by drying loads of clothes back-to-back?  This would mean doing one wash load after another and never letting the dryer cool down.  Somewhere along the years I had heard this concept but could never determine it helped.  It makes sense that the dryer is hot and putting the next load into the dryer means metal of the dryer is warm, but does that equate to gas savings? I don’t know and that question has yet to be answered.  If by chance it does save, I think it may be so slight that it’d take years to influence lowering the gas usage in our home. What do you think?

Our overall cost reduction from this year to last is about 15%.  Next year will show us our true savings providing we can keep up our efforts.  Then, we will know the effectiveness of all these changes and if we want to keep them up.

 

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