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Burn Gas Not Cash

Remember your heating bills from last winter? No?

Neither do I.

That’s because natural gas prices have been at record lows. Since 75% of Coloradans use natural gas to heat our homes, the past couple of heating seasons haven’t been so hard on the wallet. But that may change this year, according to a number of local and national energy analysts. They say that new demand for natural gas coupled with decreased production may lead to a price spike.

So what can you do? Although you can’t control the price of natural gas (or electricity, or propane), you can keep your use in check. Follow these tips as we start heading in to the long heating season ahead:

  • When you’re home, set the thermostat as low as comfortable (i.e. 68 degrees F).
  • At night or when no one is home, set the thermostat to 60 degrees F.
  • When the house is empty for more than 24 hours, turn the thermostat to 50-55 degrees F.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically provide these varying temperatures.
  • When you are not using your fireplace, close the damper or consider use of a chimney balloon.
  • Reduce heat in unused rooms if possible, and close the doors.
  • Replace furnace filters once a month during the heating season.
  • Make sure heating registers are not blocked.
  • Have your furnace checked annually by a trained professional.
  • In forced air furnaces, seal all joints in sheet metal ducts with duct mastic.
  • Insulate ducts and pipes passing through unheated spaces.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans only when needed.
  • Install insulating gaskets behind electrical outlets and switch plates on exterior walls.
  • Caulk and weather strip your doors and windows as needed.
  • Caulk and seal leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Use an inexpensive door sweep to reduce air leakage under exterior doors.
  • Upgrade attic insulation to R-38 or higher.
  • Insulate exterior heated basement walls to at least R-11.
  • Insulate floors over unheated areas to R-19.
  • Open south-facing blinds and shades on sunny winter days, and close them at night.
  • Install storm windows over single pane windows or use plastic film window kits.
  • Replace single pane windows with energy efficient double or triple pane windows mounted in non-conducting window frames.
  • Replace an aging furnace or water heater with an efficient model, preferably one with an Energy Star or Most Efficient label.

One Response so far.

  1. Irene says:

    These are very helpful tips — and many of them don’t even cost anything! I have found that some of the hands-on things like opening and closing south-facing blinds, cutting off heat to unused rooms, and properly using the thermostat are very helpful. We don’t have a programmable thermostat, but we are now very well trained in turning ours up and down (but I imagine most people would prefer the convenience of a programmable thermostat). These tips, combined with our good insulation/sealing and a couple of cords of wood (harvested free off our property) means our heating/cooking bill for the entire year (at 9,000′) is usually less than $500.

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