Sunday, December 10

Winter Season Frugality Tips

Is it winter again already? I don't know about you but I'm certainly noticing the colder weather! Due to rising energy costs this winter is sure to cost us more than ever in home heating expenses. While these tips aren't groundbreaking I'm sure they will be helpful for those that have never been responsible for heating bills before.

Plastic Window Wrap
If you rent an apartment, or otherwise can't afford to undertake larger projects, then window wrap might be just the project for you. Basically, windows are sealed under a plastic film to reduce the flow of cold air from a window into a room. This cold air could flow directly through cracks or simply from the window pane itself via convection.

Heavy Curtains
If your windows are too large to wrap, or if you aren't willing to look out of your windows through a thin plastic film, then perhaps you could put up some heavy curtains. These will reduce the flow of cool or cold air from a window fixture into the rest of the room. You can open the curtains during the day to enjoy the view and close them at night while you sleep.

Dress for the Season
No, I am not talking about when you go outside. In the summer season it is common to lounge around your home wearing shorts and a t-shirt. While this may be a comfortable habit you should work towards wearing pants and long sleeved shirts. Track pants and a sweater are certainly suitable if you aren't expecting company. Keeping your home a little cooler can save a lot in heating costs. Of course, it goes without saying, but get out the heavier bedding as well.

Humidity Management
Have you ever noticed that you feel hotter on a humid summer day? Sure you have. Well, this is true year round. If you don't let your house get too dry in the winter you may be more comfortable at lower temperatures. Use a cool water humidifier for maximum safety and energy efficiency.

Screen Doors
On many homes you'll see defective screen doors. Windows may be cracked, corners may be gone or perhaps the whole door is missing. Perhaps it is just heavy summer use, but these doors often seem to be abused, especially in areas populated by students. Fix up the screen door, make sure it closes properly, and fix any holes, cracks or leaks.

Seal Cracked Caulking
We don't often inspect the outside of our homes. However, while we may easily spot cracked and peeling paint, window caulking is something we may overlook. Cracks in caulking can allow hot air to escape and cold air to enter your home. Before it is too late in the season take a look at your windows and see if you are due for some minor repairs.

Adding Insulation
This is a big ticket item. If your home does not have adequate insulation then you should consider adding insulating to your attic or exterior walls. See if your utility provider offers free home assessments. They can measure how much heat is being lost and identify how much you can save on heating costs.

While some of these projects are more complex or more expensive than others they are all worthwhile. However, if you don't own your home or don't plan to live there for a long period of time, then it may not make sense to invest in all of these solutions. If you do own your own home you'll find that rising energy costs make it quite easy to get your money back over time.

NOTE: Included in this week's Festival of Frugality post.

Frugal Guy said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey Frugal Guy-

This isn't heating related. Sorry!

I just found your blog and since I have recently become unemployed I'm happy to be getting your frugality advice. My question is, have you ever thought about or tried baking your own bread? Is it more trouble than it's worth?


Frugal Guy said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the comment, and I'm sorry to hear about the unemployment, but I certainly know how that works.

Anyway, the answer to your question is pretty involved. In the winter time, when baking costs can be offset against home heating costs, I'd say go for it if you want to.

However, while homemade bread tastes great I don't think you can save much money that way. I haven't done the work of pricing out bulk supplies though.

Even so, the great taste and the satisfaction of being productive while unemployed are important and might make it worthwhile anyhow.

So, not really an answer, but some things to think about.