Saving on Heating Bills in the Middle of Summer

The temperature will once again be close to 90 degrees today at my home in Lancaster County, Pa. Yet, it’s time to start thinking about winter. Before we know it winter will be hear, which means heating bills and domestic debates as to whether or not 68 is an appropriate temperature for a thermostat.

The truth is, many homeowners are being lulled asleep by lower energy costs and the oppressive heat we have experienced over the last month on the East Coast. But let’s be frank – does anyone really believe that this winter will be as mild as last or that we will never see $4.00 gasoline again?

Here’s what I am doing this summer to remedy this issue and the money I hope to save going forward.

Insulating the Garage.
My two-car garage is attached to the house and it suffers the same extremes my home would if it wasn’t insulated. Think about it – would you leave a room in your house uninsulated even if you didn’t live in it? Thanks to a bevy of online help (just go to your favorite home suppliers web site) this is a great do it yourself project for folks who have the time. I will need enough premium insulation for the job, as well as dry wall. Tape, Spackle, staples, and screws will be necessary as well. Luckily, I own all the tools I need for the job and my garage already has two-by-fours in place to hold the insulation. Therefore, this job is a no-brainier. As for painting, I’ll worry about that next year. In terms of supplies, I estimate the cost of a great fiberglass insulation will run me about $300. The drywall, another $150, and $50 in miscellaneous supplies. That brings my total cost to $500. I hope to save $200 a year in total energy bills which means this project will pay for itself in two and a half years. Time to complete the project myself – 40 hours.

Filling in the Cracks

Back in the 1980s, a cranky old man I worked for in the construction business had a little saying – “cracks are the enemies of heat,” he would say. Boy, was he right. Look for a crack, any crack, in your home during the dead of winter and hold your wrist close to it. That’s where your heat is escaping to. A great all purpose silicone can become an ally in these situations. In the summer, fill all obvious cracks in walls, around the base of the floor, and where fixtures have been installed around the house. As winter approaches, look for any area that is drafty or has the potential to let heat escape. A good tube of silicone runs about $4. This year, I hope to save $30 in energy costs by taking on the project. That means this job pays for itself in just over a month. I plan on spending an hour or two on the project.

The Dryer

The air duct to most dryers lead directly outside. That means there is a giant tube extending from your home to the elements and vice versa. It is akin to drilling a hole in a wall and just accepting the fact the house has a hole in it. Big mistake. Dryer vent seals are a neat little devices that close when the dryer is not in use but opens when it is turned on. It typically costs $20. I hope to recoup the cost in a year. One word of caution – lint can cause fires. If this is something you are uncomfortable doing yourself, the $100 that someone charges to do the job may be worth the peace of mind. Doing it myself would take an hour.

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