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melnjones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 12:59 AM
Original message
Economic heating ideas...
Help guys. No way I can pay to heat my whole dang house this winter with gas prices like they are. I just bought a heater from here http://www.eheat.us/# (please check it out, it's awesome!) but I need more ideas. Anyone know how to make solar drapes for windows, etc? Help!
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well, I can tell you what we do....
But not knowing your situation, I can't say if this will help or not. You might call your electric provider and ask if they do efficiency audits - some do (our co-op power co did) some don't. Our situation is this: We own our 1400 square foot house. It's gas heat, a gas cooker and a gas hot water heater. It's a single level, with hard surface floors throughout. we don't have kids, but we do have a houseguest.

1. Electronic, programmable thermostat. Yes, it's $80, but installing one of these so you can program the heater to be shut down during the day when the sun warms the house and you're not home anyway is a great thing. Set it at 60 for day time (or lower, depending on your tolerance) and a few degrees warmer for evening, when you're home and morning before you leave. Ours is set to go up to 65 at about 5 am and to go back to 58 at 8 am, after we leave, M-F. It kicks back on at 4:30 to bring the house back up to 65 until 10 pm, when it goes back to 62. I work at home, but I don't mind it being cool in the house during the day; I'm dressed for work, after all, and that means layers - either a suit and blouse or a twinset and wool skirt or a casual jacket over a long dress and tights. (If I'm working, I should be professional, right?)

2. Seal the windows. The clear film that sticks on with doublestick tape and stretches tight with a blow-dryer is a great thing. If you can, put a third layer on the outside, using clear plastic sheeting, heavy clear packing tape and staples. Some areas don't allow this. To be safe, put a utility knife (2/$1 at the dollar stores) near each window that might be an exit in case of emergency and teach anyone who has to know how to use it how to use it safely. If any one asks, you're drilling for Homeland Security emergencies.

3. Flooring: If you have carpet, great. Vacuum it really well, then go find carpet remnants, used but still functional rugs, or those thick acrylic/wool blankets from Mexico. Put a second layer of insulation on your floors. If you have hardwood or another hard surface, put down rugs, painted floor cloths, or rug-like blankets. Secure with thin rubber matting, like is used for cabinet lining. Get something else under your feet. If you or other housemembers like to lay on the floor or sit on the floor, get mats, heavy blankets or pet-bed pillows to go under you - you'll feel less cold and less likely to turn up the heat.

4. Check your insulation: get into the crawl space, look around look at the depth. Add some. If you have access to under your house (like a mobile home) make sure you're sealed underneath, the skirting's in good shape and there's enough insulation down there, too. If your house is built in piers (like in the South and coastal regions) put straw bales around the foundation.

5. Don't use the exhaust fans in the bathroom unnecessarily. (They're needed after a steamy shower because the humidity can contribute to mildew, but don't use them for ... stinkyness or white noise. Candles are better for the former, and there's plenty of the latter around.) They can exhaust all of the heat in a house in 30 minutes.

6. It's okay to love candles. In fact, lighting candles while you're in the room and attentive to them can both psychologically warm you (fire does this for people) and warm the room. A single pillar candle can heat a car enough to prevent freezing in the winter (so keep one in the car in the emergency kit...).

7. Move those space heaters around. Use them where they're needed, and close off rooms that aren't needed or used. If you have kids, you might consider asking them if they'd like to share a room for sleeping and turn the other room into a play room. (The playroom can then have the vents closed when it's not in use.) Make sure you close off the vents in rooms you're not using. There are sheet magnets that go over the vents to make sure they stay closed. If you have room in the kitchen, move the dining table in there and close off the dining room for the winter. If you're open plan (we are), try to use the bedrooms for as little as possible and keep the main activities in the main space. Be willing to move furniture around spring and fall to better suit the needs of the house.

8. Keep the house humidified. Moist air carries warmth better than dry air. Drying clothes with an indoor clothes line is both better for the clothes and puts moisture in the air, and lowers your energy bill. If you have ceiling fans, turn them to the winter setting so they are pushing the warm air down, and keep them on low.

9. Rule: If there's sun on the window, the blinds are up and the curtains open. If not, they're not. This assumes that someone's home during the day to do this, but if someone is, then it's worth it to get the solar boost. If not, then use sheers and heavy drapes on the western and south walls, and insulating drapes on the north walls. I use bamboo matchstick blinds and gaffers' tape and upholstery fabric for my insulating blinds on the north side. Cut the fabric to the size of the blinds, either plus 2 inches or minus 2 inches and tape the fabric to the blind. (This works well for a minimalist or Asian themed room. For something else, try the fabric store.) The blinds then insulate against the cold. Solar drapes for the most part block out heat, not let it in. They will insulate the heat and keep it inside provided that you're heating the house sufficiently. We don't, so bringing in the warmth is better than blocking it out.

10. Got a fireplace? If it's just a brick hole in the wall, have it closed off for the winter. It will not contribute enough heat to make it worth the heat loss going up the chimney. Alternately, look into a pellet stove insert. These are very efficient and relatively low cost and low emission. If you don't have one, check your heater's flue and the filters to make sure they're clean and drawing well. Have your duct work vacuumed out because clean ducts conduct heat better than dirty ones.

11. Bake, roast and broil instead of frying, grilling and stewing. It takes about the same amount of gas to bake a pot roast as it does to produce a pot of stew on the stove top, and you get to reuse the heat. Alternately, use the small electrics, like crock pots, bread makers and similar.

12. Replace your hot water heater with a tankless hot water heater. They're about the same price as one with a tank, use less energy and produce more hot water. Lowe's carries them, and they're no harder to install than a regular hot water heater. Alternately, get a timer for your hot water heater, and put it on vacation from 10 pm to 4 am, and from 10 am to 4 pm. Why should you be paying for hot water when there's no one there to use it?

13. Use only the bathroom closest to the hot water heater for baths and showers. Why pay to have half the heat in the water disperse before it comes out the spigot?

14. Buy cheap fabric and a few pounds of beans. Make 42 in tubes of the fabric (4 inches in diameter) and fill with the beans. Use them in window sills and against door sills to block out drafts. Caulk any gaps in window frames or around doors. Make sure everything hangs tightly, and if not, get it fixed.

15. Dress in layers. Not only does it look professional and cool (the idea behind layers is that it shows conspicuous consumption by allowing a person to dress in many garments at once), it regulates the core temp better.

16. Grow out your hair. Longer hair keeps you warm - chin-length to nape of neck length will do.

17. Wear hats. Most body heat is lost through the skull. Most thrift stores have a great selection of hats. (Having a hat-friendly hairstyle helps here.)

18. Do cozy activities. If you have kids, teach them to knit or crochet instead of playing videos or games. Play board games as a family. Get out the mending and fix all those missing buttons. Make a quilt - by hand. Take up cross stitch or embroidery.

19. Exercise. 20 minutes of calisthenics will keep you warm for two hours. Wear sweats and take a walk in the treadmill or watch a favorite show while using the exercise bike (if you have them.)

20. Get a big thermos that can handle hot liquids, and an assortment of teas and herbal tisanes. Fill the thermos with boiling water when you get home from work and sip on hot tea whenever you want a drink. The warm beverage will warm you up, help you get enough fluids (we feel cold more when we are dehydrated) and keep you from drinking the cold tap water. The pump thermoses are usually available at thrift stores (if not, I have an extra, if you're willing to pay for the shipping.) With a tray and an assortment of neat cups, you can have tea-time anywhere and make it fun.
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-09-05 01:10 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Great suggestions!
Thanks so much-I'm bookmarking your post. :thumbsup:
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-10-05 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. wow PCat, you took some time with that! Well done!
all great suggestions, my only addition would be to invest in a fleece "cuddler" or "slumber sack" for the cold ones in the family. Here's a pic but that price is high. I got one at Sam's club two years ago for around $30, check amazon or the thrift stores (I saw one yesterday at Saver's for $8)

you can add thick socks, or just pull your feet into the sack for warm tootsies

http://store1.yimg.com/I/clothingwarehouse1_1859_102310...

http://www.clothingwarehouse.com/slumber-couch-sacks.ht...
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-14-05 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
15. We don't have cold ones...
Well, we do have a cat with 6% body fat who gets cold on 90 degree days, but she doesn't count. She has her own issues. (Not the least of which is finding the cold air vents in said summers and sitting by them, then complaining - loudly, in her Siamese voice in a house that echoes - that she's F-f-f-f-reezing.)

Mr. P and I both run hot, and so given a choice, would live in the Arctic circle, but alas, few jobs for programmers or shrinks up there.
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Ilsa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. You should post this is GD. Thanks. eom
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yorkiemommie1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
12. great tips
our house is the same size. it's a ranch plan on slab; the foyer is tile and i intend to get a thick rug for it ASAP!

even tho we have doublepane windows, since this house is so linear, i can still feel a draft . last year we experimented by hanging a curtain in the hallway and that really helped so this year we're going to install an accordian door to shut off this long hallway.

i'm in SoCal so to me 50* is freezing!
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-14-05 11:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
27. I'd add a few things, subtract one
The fireplace to stove insert is a great idea, but pellet stoves have a high initial cost, require electricity to run the worm gear and fan, and the cost of pellets is going up. For real economy, consider either a coal insert or a woodburning insert. Just be aware that coal ashes can NOT be used in a garden, check your local laws for disposal instructions. If you don't have an efficient insert, block that fireplace. It's a wood and heat waster.

Space heaters are OK, but I find that in the morning, when it's cold in here and the woodstove isn't throwing off enough heat, wrapping up in an electric blanket while I'm refereeing an IRC channel works really well. The blanket I have is 20 years old, so I'm a little surprised it still works, but work it does and it's great. It's economical, too.

Cats. Their core temperature runs about 101, so they make great warmers for laps, feet, and in bed in a pretty much unheated bedroom. They like people, so they generally comply.

Knitting is great. It warms you up and distracts you so that even banal TV sitcoms suddenly become somewhat interesting. I find I knit a lot of blankets, ponchos, afghans, and shawls in the winter. Not only does the activity warm you up, when the project gets long enough to hit your lap, it does too.











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Delphinus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-09-05 01:17 PM
Response to Original message
3. That's not a bad price.
Let me know how it works - this, I think, would be ideal in my house.
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Angry Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-05 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. Building an inexpensive solar heating panel and more...
Edited on Tue Oct-11-05 02:38 PM by Angry Girl
Building an inexpensive solar heating panel
http://www.mobilehomerepair.com/article17solar.htm

SUN-LITE SOLAR AIRHEATER KIT ($300-$400)
http://www.solar-components.com/SOLARKAL.HTM

For more energy resources
http://www.re-energy.ca/t_solarheat.shtml

General tips for solar
http://hes.lbl.gov/hes/makingithappen/no_regrets/solarw...
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lizziegrace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-11-05 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
6. Request for help
Edited on Tue Oct-11-05 09:05 PM by lizziegrace
I bought a DeLonghi oil filled radiator-style heater a few weeks ago. It heats my bedroom fine (I put a small fan behind it to move the air). It also helps in the living room, but the effect is not as good. I haven't turned on the furnace yet this season (Ohio) and hope since it's just me and the cats, I can keep the furnace on very low and only heat the room I'm in with the radiator heater. The other bedrooms are shut off and I put plastic over the vent for the attic fan and over the louvered back door.

My question is this: How much does it cost to run a 1500/900/600 watt heater per hour? Or rather, how much energy does it use per hour so I can project how much it will increase my electric bill? I can look up my kw/hour cost on my last bill. I'd assume the 900 watt setting.

Thanks in advance for the help!

LG



edited for clarity
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lizziegrace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Oh No!
I killed the thread...

:nuke:
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hvn_nbr_2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Nah. Don't worry.
This is just a slow-moving group, not GD. If you look at the dates of the posts, this thread has taken five days to get seven posts. So you didn't kill it.
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lizziegrace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Good
I thought I was turning into the black widow of the board...
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-14-05 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
14. Here's the calculator I generally use
http://www.dom.com/customer/efficiency/res/answers/appc...

You can take the yearly average and divide by months, weeks or days.
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lizziegrace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-15-05 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. Thank you!
Now I can see if this will really save or not...
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Ilsa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-12-05 07:27 PM
Response to Original message
9. I have a gas clothes dryer. Can I vent the blower back into the house,
or is there a carbon monoxide issue with blowing linty warm air in?
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-14-05 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. shouldn't be a monoxide problem, but it's REALLY damp air and linty
as all get out. You'd need a filter that wouldn't get waterlogged I'd think. Mold and mildew may be an issue.

it may be a better idea to send the air down into the crawl space under the house to minimize the cold coming up through the floors, but again dampness may be a HUGE issue.

I'd ask this question in the DIY group and get Lugnut to ask her hubby. He's pretty darn smart about this stuff.
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Coloradan4Truth Donating Member (360 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. Panty Hose
Say what?!

Panty hose makes a great filter.

We use an old leg of panty hose around the end of the dryer vent tube and let it vent into our basement laundry room. We watch for signs of mildew, but haven't seen any... Colorado's very dry. The moist air actually helps keep the house warmer in the winter and in the summer we dry more clothes on the line outside anyway. The panty hose needs to be changed regularly as it fills with lint.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-14-05 11:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
28. My duct came undone once
meaning the dryer vented into the laundry room, not outside.

The CO detector didnt' go off, but the place was SOGGY for days, and this is the desert.

I'll never go out when the dryer is on again.
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KalicoKitty Donating Member (777 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
17. What is the price of the ECONO-HEAT electric panel heaters?
Thanks.
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bluedonkey Donating Member (644 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-05 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #17
25. They're about
$80 plus shipping(about$15).I just ordered one to see if it really works.I'll let you know.
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
18. Sorry to say it
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 01:31 PM by Nederland
But that heater looks like a huge rip off.

The website claims that it can heat a 10x10 room for $0.03 an hour.


$0.03hr x 24 hour a day x 30 days a month = $21.60

I don't know about you, but paying $21.60 a month to heat a single 10x10 room sounds awfully expensive...
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CitySky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. heating a room 24 hours X 30 days might be part of the problem? n/t
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-20-05 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Read the website
If it costed less than $0.03 an hour to use I would think they would say so...
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stlsaxman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. I have 3 rooms that cost me about 125 a month for central gas heat...
If i could pay 64.80 (or less) in addition to my electric bill as opposed to giving the gas company for the winter months, that sounds like quite a savings. Almost 50% a month, right?
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melnjones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-22-05 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. exactly. nt
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melnjones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-22-05 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. 400 watts is my point though...
Other space heaters I've seen need 1000 to 1500 watts, so that's quite a difference. My gas bill will easily be in the hundreds. I have an 1800 sq ft house that I'm in the process of renovating, little insulation (and I don't have the time, knowledge, or money to improve on that right now), etc. My hope for staying warm this winter is holing up in one room with my pets and otherwise keeping the furnace set to about 50-55. Gas is just way too expensive, so this is a good alternative for now.
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lizziegrace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-12-05 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
26. If you have any attic fan vents
cover them. I have a whole house attic fan in the upstairs hallway. I covered it with plastic using two-sided tape and a hairdryer to tighten the plastic. When it's very windy, the louvers flap. Imagine how much heat is just floating out the attic if not covered....

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