Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Don't Dread Getting Some Bills

Sometimes, being green feels good.

I got my gas bill today. My furnace and water heater are gas powered. According to Minnegasco, the billing period was colder than last year - avearge temp last year was 18, while it was 10 this year. That's a substantial difference - to drop the average that much, we endured several more days below zero this year.

My usage was a third less than last year. Let me be clear: It was colder outside for the entire month and my gas usage was quite a bit less.

Last year, the house was occupied by a married couple. I'm a single guy. I don't know where they set the thermostat. I generally keep it at 68 when the place is occupied and occasionally sneak it up to 70. I drop the temp to 60 at night but the furnace never even goes on overnight - the place only drops to 65 or so. During the day I also set the temp to 60, but even if there is the slightest bit of sun, the temp goes UP. The winter-time benefits of a southern exposure.

Let's look at what's different.

I installed a programmable thermostat last fall.

I added 13" of insulation in the attic.

I turned the temp of the water heater down about five degrees to 115.

I put a layer of foam insulation (R5) on the inside of the garage door.

That's it.

I spent a little for insulation and a smart thermostat. I saved about $25 this month. The lesson: It's not that hard to make the big gains.

I get my electric bill in a few days. Maybe I'll have a similar story to tell about the improvements I made by swapping out 25 incandescent bulbs for same-output CFLs.

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