Don’t call it a comeback! (the quintessential and incomparable LL Cool J)
Today, I want you to look at how much you pay for heating and cooling your home. I’ll share what I pay, and what I have done to trim this monthly expense, without sacrificing comfort, I really do enjoy AC , especially during the dog days of summer; for those of you keeping score at home, that’s now. . .
Here (southern piedmont of NC), in our household, we spent $1,921 on heating and cooling in 2016, or about $160 per month (2,426 square feet, built in 1996, HVAC gas pack – heat pump for AC, nat gas for heat). It was $175 per month in 2015 and it’s $140 per month, so far, in 2017 (first 6 months). One of the reasons it’s down the last couple years is milder weather, as well as lower commodity prices, but I still want you to review the list below and see if there is something you can do, to pay less, for the same service! (this is where you dance uncontrollably).
I get a monthly report from Duke Energy (see pic below) that shows how my electric usage compares to the mythological “efficient” home. I’m so competitive that I have to be better than this “efficient” home. (channel your inner LL Cool J)
I work for a utility company (electric and natural gas), so this is an area I’m pretty passionate about (if you couldn’t already tell). Here are some of the things I have done – mostly as suggestions from one of our internal energy auditors (he also has an HVAC license):
1) I made an attic tent (plywood and silver insulation) to cover the pull-down stairs opening that goes to our attic (2 story house). Pull-down stairs are rarely insulated and are one of the biggest areas of lost energy in a typical home.
2) I caulked around all my windows – this apparently wasn’t done during construction – so this might not be something you need to do.
3) I put silver insulation backing on the door to the eaves (similar to the attic tent).
4) I put outlet gaskets on all of my outside facing walls. Outlet gaskets are really inexpensive – I think I paid $.25 each. Outlets are rarely insulated.
5) programmable thermostats – buy them, use them! If you are going to be gone for 8 hours or more (e.g., while at work), raise the temp (in the summer) at least 5 degrees (don’t recommend more than 10 degrees) – do likewise in the winter. We set it at 77 during the day (when we are away) and 72 at night. We program differently for Monday-Friday and Saturday/Sunday because we are home more on weekends.
6) buy a couple ceiling fans for areas you spend most of your time in (for us this is the bonus room – bedroom already had one). Fans don’t help heat or cool, but they do make us feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer (counter-clockwise in summer, clockwise in winter).
We probably spent $200 to $300 on these projects, with the ceiling fan being the most expensive – note we already had the programmable thermostats. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, I recommend you research the nest – I understand it gets really good reviews. These are all DIY projects so we didn’t hire any of these projects out.
Do you have any other ideas for saving on heating and cooling? Are you willing to share what you pay per month to heat and cool your home? Please join the conversation by adding a comment below.