Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cutting Your Natural Gas Bill in Half

Here's my long-range plan:

1. Lower night-time temps as much as possible. Lower daytime temps a degree or two. We keep our house temps low, but they could be lower. According to BC Hydro, lowering your thermostat by two degrees can save you 5% on your bill. BC Hydro is an electric company, so I'm not sure the numbers are comparable for natural gas heat. Pacific Northern Gas doesn't have that info on its website. But we'll save some amount of money that way.

2. Perhaps stop using the heat earlier in the spring and start later in the fall.

3. Play with turning down the heat at the kids' bedtime rather than keeping it high until we go to bed. Maybe we'll start going to bed at a decent hour.

4. Get slippers for everyone. Canadians take off their shoes when they enter a house. Buying myself some comfy and warm slip on shoes was the best thing I've done. I'm much more comfortable this winter than I was in previous years.

5. Make sure everyone has a decent supply of sweaters. I do. The boys don't.

6. Switch from washing our clothes in a warm/cold cycle to a cold/cold cycle. I actually thought I was doing this already - turns out I wasn't. I do anywhere from 7 to 10 loads of laundry a week, so it adds up.

7. I just went and checked and our hot water heater runs on gas. I hadn't realized that before. That means we can take shorter showers and be careful not to let the hot water run needlessly when we're washing dishes, etc.

8. Eventually (this is the long range part of the plan) move to a smaller house. We currently live in a 3500 sf house. Our last house was 1600 sf. We wondered if our heating bill would be twice as high when we moved here, but that turned out not to be the case. At the old place we had a 30 year old heater. In this house we have a high-efficiency heater. We are heating twice the space for the same price. That tells me if we moved back to a 1600 sf house with a high efficiency heater we could cut our heating bills (and our carbon footprint) by quite a bit.

We had our house on the market most of last year. So did everyone else in town, unfortunately. I don't know if we'll be able to sell anytime soon in the current economic market. Some day we will, though.

I'm off to turn down the heat


jannie_b said...

Funny thing about Canadians and shoes, eh? When we spent five years in Atlanta, many people thought we were rude to take our shoes off when we entered a house. It's pretty much the opposite up here.

I agree: in the winter, cozy socks and slippers are your best friends!

Re laundry: I wash pretty much everything in cold/cold except for kitchen cloths and towels...I still do those in warm/cold. It's probably irrational...the warm water is not gonna kill bacteria or anything.

Lindsey said...

You always have great suggestions. Sometimes we know what we should do but it's implementing them that becomes the hard part. Thanks for bringing things to the front of my mind again. I'm off to turn down the thermostat!

Jennifer said...

I'll confess I do my kitchen towels in hot water. I can't see how the cold water will get the grease out - but maybe i should try it.

Jannie - the shoes issue was one of the things my husband and I nearly came to blows over at first. I was raised to feel that you only took your shoes off in someone's house if you knew them really well - like a relative.

When I met dh, he made me take my shoes off and once got mad when I tiptoed across his carpet in my high heels (to retrieve my purse). I nearly dumped him right then, LOL!

Now I've been converted. So much less dirt in the house!

L Harris said...

I always where shoes in the house (in Alberta) but it has been a learned thing. Growing up we never wore shoes in the house unless they were our church shoes and we were leaving shortly for services. Oh, and I try but I'm not sticky about it, but I try to keep inside shoes and outside shoes.

I think I may try again to turn down the heat. If I do one degree at a time, maybe we won't notice and I'll just suggest to anyone who is cool at grab a sweater or a blanket. We have enough of those!

cillakat said...

Sorry to comment on an old post...just had to share though. We've halved our natural gas consumption and cut by 45% our natural gas bill. I decided to take the plunge and lower the heat to 55. All the time. We have electric mattress pads on the beds, they are turned on while everyone is readying for bed, then unplugged when we climb in bed. Good comforters, jammies and socks keep us warm at night. Mornings are shockingly cold at first but one does get used to it. I wear wool socks and shoes in the house. My bucky warmer(buckwheat filled pillow thingie) gets microwaved for 2.5 minutes. It holds heat for about 30 minutes so I use it a few times during the day and almost every night when I get into the bed. I also only now use the clothes dryer for about 5 minutes for each load - to soften and loosen the wrinkles *then* I hang things to dry. We take super short showers - no more than a minute. Insulating the hot water heater is a huge help. I've done the same with the electricity - turning on a light only when absolutely positively necessary. Plugging in an appliance only when absolutely necessary for use. Otherwise they're unplugged except for the fridge/freezer/washer.

Take care:)