Cozy Up For Winter – Save Money on Your Electric Bill

by Merissa on October 31, 2012

in Featured, Thrifty Living

Save Money on Electric Bill - Little House Living

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Save Money on Electric Bill

I just love those WWII posters! It's almost November and it’s quite cold here already. We still have some nicer fall days but when the wind blows it’s carrying the bone chilling winter wind right on in. I've mentioned it before but my house is far from snug. Even though it’s small it’s poorly insulated and very drafty. The biggest windows in the house face the north and when the cold north wind blows it gets very unpleasant. Even though we follow our tips to stay warmer in the winter we still have to do more than that to beat the draftiness.

This is where we take a page out of the pioneers’ book. They built small cozy houses here for very specific reasons. One of them being they didn't have many rooms to heat, usually just one large room, occasionally 2. When the cold wind starts blowing in we take to that rule and cozy up! I close off the 2 bedrooms that are on the north side of the house and bring anything needed into the living room and our bedroom (which is on the south side). Instead of trying to heat up my whole house we now only have to heat the main room and the main bedroom where we will do most of our activities. Does that mean we can’t go into the other rooms? Of course not! But I won’t be fighting with the wind to try and keep them heated when they aren't really needed.

Not only is this nice on your heating bill, it’s nice on your family life. We feel closer and tend to do more activities when we aren't all off in separate rooms. As a bonus my house is staying cleaner since it’s easier to only have to clean a few rooms!

We switched to this new method in the middle of October. Here is our electricity (our home is 100% electric) over the last 3 months.

The green bar is our overall electricity  the yellow bars are our heaters (which are electric and on a separate meter). The red, black, and blue lines are for the high, average, and low temps respectively  We only used heat for half of the month of September and October before we turned the heaters off and tried our new method. Since we purchased the infrared heater it has been very cold (under 30 degrees) and it has been running constantly. But you can see on this chart that our electric overall (the green bar) has not gone up because of this heater, in fact it's gone down!

This didn't solve the problem of draftiness in the main living room, which has large windows that also face the north. So I sealed around the windows and the front door (which isn't used) to prevent the drafts from the north from making their way in.

Something else we did was ditch the electric cove heating. Unless you live in an area where there is never wind, don’t ever put in cove heating. It’s expensive to run and inefficient. Thanks to allergies we aren't going to be able to run the wood stove this year so instead we purchased one of those infrared heaters. So far it’s been working very well and we are impressed that it can heat our entire house.

So if you are like us and fight with winter draftiness you might want to try these things:

  1. Cozy up. Condense down to only the space you really need.
  2. Block the drafts as much as possible.
  3. Make sure you are using the right kind of heating for your house and your area.

Make sure to check out my 12 Tips to Save on Your Heating Bill to learn more tips on saving money.

What are some ways you save money on your electric bill in the winter?

merissabio

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca Jolley October 31, 2012 at 9:04 am

We always Used that plastic wrap stuff in our old house, our new place has nice windows but how do you seal a extremely drafty door without blocking it as an emergency exit? (its a rental so I can’t change anything permanently but was looking at weather striping options)

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2 Little House on the Prairie Living October 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

Rebecca, my hubby would definitely say to go with the weather striping. But if you want something super quick you could always seal it with masking tape or painter’s tape and you could still use it as an emergency exit.

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3 Jackie October 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm

We use this same idea, too. We have gas forced air, but also a gas fireplace. We keep our bedrooms shut and pretty much use the gas fireplace, turning it on only when we get cold. It really has helped the heating bill :)

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4 Mel Free October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm

We bought 2 of those electric heaters last year, Merissa..we love them!..we live in an 1910 house with high ceilings & steam heat..they actually make the rooms feel warm, now!..the heat used to go to the ceilings & ceiling fans just made the rooms feel like cold air was blowing on you..with the heaters, the entire air feels warm..so, even if they aren’t cheaper to run, we now can feel comfortable in our rooms! :)

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5 Trinity Harney October 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Our furnace died last year so we use our woodbuner only and get our wood for free from a friend with a sawmill.

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6 RevAllyson November 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

We keep the oil furnace set to 55F, except for a few minutes in the morning when everyone’s getting out of bed (we have a programmable thermostat). If people want it warmer, we use the wood stove to heat up the main portion of the house. In the upstairs bedrooms we have electric blankets that spot heat (and also have programmable thermostats!) so we don’t waste heat warming the whole room. After all, when you’re asleep, who cares? That’s what blankets are for. It’s not unusual in the middle of winter for my room to be in the low 40s, and I just put on a night cap and snuggle in under several quilts and I’m good. There’s actually a lot of evidence out there to show it’s healthier to sleep in colder temps!

Beyond that, once the snow flies we’ll use shrink wrap stuff on all our windows (can’t do it before that because we might need to open them – in New England, until the snow actually comes, you just never know). We leave one window in each room unwrapped, “just in case” we need to open it, and we cover it with a heavy curtain or blanket. We use stuffed tube type things at the bottoms of doors to avoid drafts. There is already a strip of weather sealing around all the doors to stop drafts, as well.

We have thick, heavy drapes that come down in the evening and are opened in the morning (allowing passive solar heat in). On cold, wet or snowy days, they get closed to hold in the heat. We also have two electric heaters available, though we don’t use them unless someone is really sick (then we use them to heat the room the person is in).

All this meant that last year, we used just a little more than one tank of heating oil… as compared to *four* used by our closest neighbors in a smaller home. We’ll probably use even less this year, as last year we moved in around October 15 and had snow by Halloween, and this year we’ve been able to plan things MUCH better.

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7 Alecia Horner November 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

We keep our house cool (55 degrees!) all winter and layer our clothing all the time. We don’t have kids though so it’s easier. We keep an electric blanket on the bed to heat it up before we get in and usually turn it off after 1/2 hour or so. After that we use the dog for heat

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8 Tara November 5, 2012 at 3:00 am

We always keep our temprature set at 65 day and night,,, I like to keep it set there so it does not have to work so hard to get back to that temp. If it is really cold and seems to be needing to come on more we kick on our little radiant heater (like the amish heaters that they now sell) It heats the house up fast and stays nice not having to use our propane up to heat the whole house.. We have found the little heater does not kill our electric bill wich is nice. But we also have a very well insulated house so we are lucky in that regard..

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9 Carolyn Fixen November 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

Supposed to be 5 below tomorrow nite. 17 for a high today. We didn’t get the snow they were predicting – up to 24″ , we might get 10 to 12 ” when done. It snowed, then rained, then snowed – am ready – :)

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10 Little House on the Prairie Living November 10, 2012 at 9:17 am

Where are you at Carolyn? That’s a lot of snow! It’s snowing pretty good here right now but they said only 2 inches, although I think we’ve already gotten at least that if not more!

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11 Carolyn Fixen November 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

NW north Dakota —

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12 Carolyn Fixen November 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

We did have 12″ by this morning, snow flurries this afternoon – everyone tucked in – including us, youngest daughter stayed in town at work, so she didn’t miss work —

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13 Kathy July 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

In the winter I set the thermostat between 55 and 60. I just pile extra blankets on the bed and wear sweat shirts/pants around the house and I’m quit comfortable.

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14 Pamela August 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

We have electric heat – cove type. I hear they are not efficient. However, we have an insert woodstove that is very efficient and our ranch was built with a blower right above fireplace with two vents to livingroom and two vents to kitchen. Bedrooms are heated with electric heat. We have old drafty windows in our 1970′s house. Trying to improve. Any ideas?

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15 Merissa August 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Pamela, that’s exactly what our house had and it’s true, electric heat is very inefficient. I would recommend putting plastic coverings over all the windows and insulating them better if you can. Upstairs you might want to consider ones of those propane or kerosene heaters, that might be more efficient, you’ll just have to be careful around kids.

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16 Elloa November 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I hang up the silver emergency blankets in the window. You can still see outside when the curtains are open, but it keeps it warmer. They are in the sporting good section.

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17 Antionette Blake April 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I try, but hubby and the boys love the heat!

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