With winter coming up and high heating cost approaching, what can we do
to help save money and help prevent heat lost. I'll list the things
I've done, but would like further input for other items I haven't
thought of. I'm in California so the winters here aren't too bad,
nevertheless, money is money.
1-Added more insulation to the attic.
2-Set the thermostat to turn off at 9:00pm
3-Sealed any leaks in any doors
4-Took out one incandescent bulb in each light and added compact
I'm would like to change the way my house heats. Instead of heating the
whole house at all times, I'd like to find a way to only heat the
bedroom in the morning and the family room. kitchen in the evening. I
don't want to manually have to close the registers as they are in the
ceiling. Is there any type of device that will automatically open and
close the registers at specific times?
I am interested in the replies to your post. I have been thinking about
the upcoming heating season as well.
My situation, 1YO house, 6" insulated walls w/tyvec, energy efficient
windows, Door seals good, forced hot air, one zone, 2800 sq ft.
I think my options are
- Add more blown-in insulation to attic.
- Add storm doors
- Wear a sweater and set back thermostat
- Install a programmable thermostat
Problem with programmable thermostats for us is that I work at home, my
wife's an at home mom and we home school the kids. The call for heat is
relatively constant except maybe between 1AM and 7AM.
In the 70's, when I was a kid, I remember that kerosene heaters were
popular. I have one but I'm not sure I want it in the house, I use it
to heat the garage when I'm building/fixing something. I do have a
vented natural gas fireplace. Its likely less efficient than my furnace
and only heats up the living room which we do not spend a lot of time
OK - I'm rambling - So, you want to essentially add zone control to
your existing systems. I'm not too sure that's easily accomplished but
I'm curios about the responses.
Go nuts with sealing- in reality you can't, but more is better.
Especially at lowest and highest levels of house. Assume possibility of
leaks everywhere and you'll find many of them.
Turn down furnace/boiler t-stat to the max possible, whether fan switch
or "aquastat." (You didn't tell us which.). Setting probably will have
to be raised for mid-winter. (Ex: my fan switch is set to ~120 deg F,
so fan starts when heat-exchanger gets to that temp, and shuts off
about 105 deg F. Idea is to cool heat-exchanger as best possible, thus
best cooling exhaust.) On my gas unit, turning down pressure-regulator
setting, slows burner flow & reduces exh. temp. also.
I've seen some aquastats set to 210 F- indicating difficulty of heating
the house with lots of leaks. In one previous house, after various
improvements, setting that to 160 F worked fine. Wee bit more
circ-pump-run-time than at 210.
An obvious one: insulate pipe/tube carrying heated fluids in spaces
that are at lower temp. All you can possibly reach.
You can also insulate under the house and put a wrap on the water heater.
Heavier curtains and plastic window films can be more economical than
replacing windows or adding storm windows. No reason not to have summer
curtains and winter curtains.
But beyond what has been mentioned, you will need to start looking at things
that cost far more than you are likely to save. Things like new windows or
a more efficient furnace or covering hardwood floors with carpets (with
By far the most cost efficient thing you can do is get used to a cooler
house and set the thermostat even a few degrees cooler on average than what
you are used to. It costs nothing in materials or labor (except maybe a few
new sweaters) and could save more than all the other measures combined. (I
know there is a limit to how far you can go)
If you're using a programmable thermostat, you can increase the cool part of
the day by an hour or two as well as trimming a degree or two off all
If enough people cut back instead of buying expensive building materials,
the demand for fuel would be lessened and the price won't go up so much (at
least that's the theory)
Other than stopping infiltration, the #1 item is styrofoam window
shutters put up at night and down in the day. When I put my shutters up
my wife says she is warmer instantly, even when the heat is off.
Free men own guns, slaves don\'t
There are dampers that can be added. They can be time or temperature
controlled. BUT some serious computations must be done before they are
added to prevent reducing the airflow below acceptable level. I doubt there
is an effective payback for the investment. Reducing the overall house
temperature and adding supplemental heat where and when desired may work for
For most parts of the country after the things you have done caulk is your
best weapon. Stop the cold air from entering or the warm air from leaving.
This is the most common step skipped by the average builder. $50 worth of
caulk can have a 100% payback the first year. Unless you are in Northern CA
this may not apply to you.
sounds like a good recipe for mold.
there are heat exchangers you can get that will take the heat out of the
exhaust, so you can use that to heat your house. you have to do a lot of
drying to make it cost effective.
Hello everyone and thanks for your replies. Someone suggested setting
the thermostat cooler...yes we are going to start living in 68 degree
when winter comes instead of a comfy 71 that I like it at. That should
However, what about registers that will automatically close at a
specific time of day? I've heard it's bad for the furnace if too many
are closed as the furnace will not be able to cool itself enough.
We only live in your basic tract housing, nothing we have is special.
On another note, when should the furnace/AC be replaced? Ours is almost
12 years old now.
I don't think age is a particular problem--furnaces last quite a while. It
is instead a question of efficiency--lots of heat is probably going up
the chimney (and likewise the efficiency of the Air Conditioner is
probably a lot less than new ones). How long do you expect to stay there?
If only a short time you won't recovery the cost of a new furnace; if a
long time you will.
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I have been measuring air flow in houses for 17 years using accurate,
expensive instruments. 1/2 of the houses I measure have 1/2 or less of
the required air flow, so efficiency is already poor. Cutting air flow
without measuring what you already have is a bad idea. You could ruin
both your furnace and ac. Zoning systems require complicated and
expensive controls. They can be effective, but are NOT a DIY project.
More efficient equipment may be a good idea, but it depends on ho
efficient your existing stuff is and how long you will live there.
Sealing ducts that run in unconditioned spaces can help as well.
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