Cut Costs of Cold Snaps

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Winter Wonderland

Winter scene at the Sport Plex in Alexander City, Alabama.

Photo by Jana Bland

During the chilly months of winter, no matter what heat source you use—oil, gas, electricity, or wood—you can cut costs by adopting temporary measures to keep the thermostat turned down. Here are some money-saving tips for cutting the cost of cold snaps. [Note: Some of these tips are only appropriate for above-freezing cold snaps and are not advised for subfreezing temperatures. For tips on how to prevent frozen pipes in subfreezing temperatures click here.]

  • Temporarily close off heat to some rooms by shutting doors. (This requires a heating system that can be controlled room by room.) Shut the doors to unheated closets, the pantry, and the basement and attic.
  • Hang blankets over the windows at night. Tape or thumbtack the sides and bottom of blankets to the walls or windowsills to maximize the insulation value. (Press the tacks or tape under the bottom of the sill and over the top of the frame to hide any damage to the finish.) Remove the coverings on the south side of the house during the day.
  • Cover cracks around doors and windowsills with rugs, newspaper, towels, or other insulation.
  • Use electric space heaters in living or work areas. These are more efficient than the furnace for localized heating, and they will allow you to set the thermostat lower for the whole house.
  • Put on a sweater.
  • Cook a hot meal.

What do you do to save money on heat in your house during the winter? Comment and let us know!

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foam board

I used foam board in the windows. I draped fabric over the front ant the back to look like curtains on the inside and out; worked beautifully

The oven...

Something my mother always did (and I continue to do) on cold days is - when baking/roasting something, leave the oven ajar after it's finished and shut off.

The excess heat seems to come more directly into the kitchen than if you leave it shut when you're done.

Windows

I remove the screens from my windows and wrap plastic sheeting around them and then re-install the screens. This creates a translucent "second window" with an insulating air gap between the glass pane and the screen. It also seals the window better since the plastic around the screen's frame makes it a tight fit and very little air flows around it. I know it is effective because the condensation I used to have on the windows, and resulting mold, has completely ceased to occur. My electric bill went down noticeably. I also installed good quality storm doors on my front and rear entrances.

Warming up on chilly mornings

I love to do my ironing early in the mornings before the house has warmed up. The moist heat from the iron heats the room and warms me as well.

Thanks for the tip.

Thanks for the tip.

Great tip. Thanks.

Great tip. Thanks.

I've tried this insulation

I've tried this insulation method in the past and it does work.

My son lives in Austin, Texas

My son lives in Austin, Texas where they have brutal heat and he did this to a large window that got direct sunlight in the afternoon and it made a tremendos difference in the cooling his house

Home improvement stores carry

Home improvement stores carry foam insulation board. It comes in various thicknesses but the one type has a foil backing already applied. I believe it is about 1/2-inch thick. It comes in 4ft x 8 ft sheets. Cut it to fit snugly in your window with the shiny side facing in to reflect the heat back into the room. Don't press the board directly against the window as the air gap between the board and window helps insulate better. The snug fit will also cut any drafts.

During the day, you can pull the foam board out of the window opening and let the sun in on the southern side. Keep them in for the northern side. Or paint the non-foil side black and leave them in during the day. The black will absorb the sun and heat the air gap between the window and board.

Conversely, in the summer, you can cut your cooling bill by putting the foam board in the window with the foil side out to reflect the hot summer heat.

For less than $7 for a 32 sq. ft. sheet, the insulation can cover several windows and reap a lot of savings. There is no tacking or hanging blankets and they're easier to remove during the day. The insulation value is also better and the foil reflects the radiant heat.

An acquaintance tried this on his home with single pane windows and cut his winter heating bill in about half!

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