We’re Doing Big Things to Tame Our Heating Bill

One of my most hated expenses is the heating bill.

We don't have air conditioning, so we only experience this type of bill for a few months every year, but it's still a pain. Our heating bill isn't even all that much, but it's enough to make us want to save a bit here and there on it.

We moved in December 2012 to a house that is quite a bit larger than our previous dwelling/shack. A larger house generally results in larger bills, particularly when it comes to heating, cooling, and electricity.

We've been able to keep our electricity bill cost neutral, but we're on a mission to save some cash when it comes to heating, too. So far we've taken a few steps to bring it down a bit.

The Attic Re-Insulation Project

Our house came with a big problem when we bought it: vermiculite insulation in the attic, which unfortunately tested positive for asbestos.

We found out about the asbestos when we got our home inspection, and were able to negotiate the removal costs of the dangerous substance, but post-abatement we were left with an un-insulated attic.

We re-insulated the attic and every other point we could get at by purchasing the highest possible grade of thermal resistant insulation we could find. We insulated with R-40 and saved quite a bit of money on it by buying it off of Craigslist. There are many types of insulation available with varying R values so make sure you do your research to find out which one is best for you with regards to its properties (sound proof, fire resistance, water repellent, reduce heat/cold air from escaping) and the type of climate you live in.

Wood Burning Stove

We have a wood burning fireplace, which we try to use as often as possible instead of the alternative forced air heat.

The heat from a wood burning fireplace seems so much warmer than forced air or electric heat, and it's free.

We don't buy wood for the fireplace. Instead, we use discarded pallets. There are a lot of companies that have to pay to get pallets picked up and shipped away, so we (and by we, I mean my fiance) picks them up from the businesses (construction companies, grocery and furniture stores, etc) after talking to the management.

He then chops up the pallets and we have free heat all winter.

Changing out the Windows

Our fireplace doesn't reach our loft, which we've turned into our ultimate master bedroom. This is the only room in the house that doesn't have double paned windows, as the reno company that worked on our house before we bought it overlooked them.

This is next on our priority list. While we don't really use the electric heat in the loft, single paned windows can be poor for air quality. Condensation can build up more readily with single paned windows, causing mould and mildew on the window sills.

Plus, the loft can get pretty hot in the summer and double paned windows can help with that.


What do you do to reduce your heating bill?


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11 thoughts on “We’re Doing Big Things to Tame Our Heating Bill

  1. Our big project this summer was cleaning out the attic for new insulation. I have noticed the furnace clicks on less often now. We installed super/top of the line hvac last summer when the old stuff was taken out (no longer even turned on). Next year new windows will be installed in at least some of the windows and siding. But I think the insulation was the best money spent for the return, then the furnace and next the windows/siding.

  2. Oh, really great idea with the pallets 😉

    We have well insulated windows and our own heating system. It works well and keeps cosst down.

  3. Love that you have a wood-burning stove! I'm very jealous! We have a pre-fab chimney, so I don't like lighting fires in it (I'm probably a bit more paranoid than I need to be - thanks to having a fireman for a dad!) Wish you could come by our house and pick up all our firewood for your stove! The previous owners left a whole lot in the backyard that we won't use.

  4. Be very careful about burning pallets. Most pallet wood is chemically treated - older ones are treated with Methyl Bromide and newer ones are often treated with insecticide, fire retardants, and fungicides. Some of the newer ones are also pressure treated with CCA. Make sure that the pallets you're using are safe to burn.

    Also, just from a labor standpoint, pallet wood burns hot and fast and you'll go through a lot of it. A proper piece of aged hardwood in a woodstove will last a really long time. You're better off burning a combination of pallet wood to get the fire started, and then maintaining the fire with a nice solid piece of aged hardwood.

  5. Kurt @ Money Counselor

    We've got a fireplace insert, and rely on it heavily. (Just yesterday ran our fuel-oil fired boiler for the first time this season!) I like that discarded pallet idea, I'll have to check into that. I've been buying two cords of cut wood in a batch--costs about $500 delivered to our house, but that lasts the winter. Nothing like the heat from a wood stove or insert, very comfy, and fun too!

  6. We put insulation in the attic right after we moved in. I have to believe it made a difference but I really don't have a baseline to see how much it has impacted the heating bill.

    Our windows are really bad and getting worse by the year so I have to look into short term fixes (weatherstripping for the season) and long term (replacement) at some point.

  7. cj

    Daisy!!! Getting rid of the TV has made the greatest difference in our power bill. That and using space heaters in the winter as opposed to running central heating. You have a nice plan. Hope it all works out, Miss Daisy!!!

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