By Ron Dorner
This winter will be difficult.Your heating bills may increase by 75 percent. Now is the time to address the issue. Act now to avoid busting your budget.
The dynamics of heating a home require a look at the amount of space heated, insulation factors, temperature maintained, and the heat source.
Analyze your home. Can you reduce the space you heat during the winter? If you have electric heat, be sure to optimize the room thermostats. No matter what your heat source, dropping the temperature just a few degrees can save significantly on heating costs.
The return on investment for increased insulation has never been better. Add insulation, close air gaps with weather stripping around doors, and get someone to evaluate your windows.
The lower you can keep your thermostat, the lower your heating bills. Keep humidity in the mid-ranges to make the house feel warmer. Dress warmer while inside and remember that heat rises. Any method of forcing heat down, such as ceiling fans, will allow you to lower thermostat settings.
Most of us can adjust to lower temperatures. To find the minimum temperature that is comfortable try lowering the temperature one degree every third day until you feel too cool.
Install a digital thermostat and program it to cooler temperatures during sleeping hours. Try lowering it to at least 60 degrees to sleep and set it to warm the house about 30 minutes before rising.
Evaluate your main heat source. Newer furnaces have higher efficiencies. Electric heat is becoming more reasonable when compared to gas and fuel oil.
You might want to augment your present heating system. Heating bills can be cut drastically by burning wood or corn using a fireplace insert or stand-alone stove. Wood is messy, but often is almost free if you cut and stack it yourself. Corn, when readily available can be a nice alternative.
A home heated with propane this winter may burn $2 worth of fuel to produce 100,000 BTUs of heat. Corn costing 51 cents will produce the same 100,000 BTUs. If a fireplace insert burning corn can produce three-fourths of the heat needed during a typical winter, your total heating bill could be lowered from $2,000 to $875. The investment would pay for itself in two years.
“Spot” heating can also help keep the thermostat lower. Consider a portable oil or silicone-filled electric heater to raise the temperature efficiently in small areas.
We have no control over gas and heating oil prices. But we can control many factors that affect our comfort this coming winter. You really need to answer the question, “Do you want to save money?”
Ron Dorner has worked in Grace Brethren financial and estate planning for more than 17 years. For more information, or to schedule a Financial Planning Seminar in your church, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.