Battling the Cost of Winter
Getting into my car this morning at an hour when no human should be out from under the covers, I was shocked and horrified to see the temperature gauge read one degree. That's right. ONE. For a minute, I thought I might next see a glacier and some polar bears roaming my yard, but thank goodness none appeared. As I continued my drive toward my job in Boston, I watched glumly as the gauge switched from one to zero. The temperature outside was actually two degrees below zero, but my car doesn't register negative numbers. If it did, I would have turned it around and headed straight for Florida.
This freezing cold got me thinking about heating costs and the need to really work hard on keeping them down in this kind of brutal New England winter that we're having. While I've done really well so far (my bills are the lowest they've ever been), I know that the January bill is coming and it's always an unwelcome surprise. Winter heating bills can not only hurt your budget but can blow it to bits if you're not careful.
Years ago, when I first got divorced and purchased my little home, my heating bills were enormous and I realized that my house wasn't insulated properly. Thanks to a small investment, my home's insulation is now incredible. I used to have heating bills over 0 per month in the dead of winter and now they are around 0. That's half and that's great, but I am determined to save even more.
I'm always on the lookout for money-saving ideas and just when I think that I've read them all, I find some tips that shower me with fresh advice. Money Central on MSN.com had a great article this month. A few tips really stood out to me:
-Keep heating vents clear. Vents blocked by furniture, toys, etc. have to work harder to produce the same output.
-Use fans sparingly. "In just one hour, a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air," according to the Department of Energy.
-Keep your furnace maintained. By failing to change a filter regularly, the system has to work harder to heat your home.
-My personal favorite: Wear a sweater. Okay, the article didn't say that, but for every two degrees you turn your thermostat down, you can save about 6 percent of your energy costs over 24-hour period.
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