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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hibernation and the Economics of Winter

It is really cold outside. Thursday's snow is still pretty. My furnace works and although I got my first big bill of the season, it isnt going to break me although I am pretty worried about the next couple of months which tend to be the coldest. I have decided to spend today putting up some of that horrible plastic sheeting over some windows in the hopes that it might help me keep my heating costs down.

I have a really old furnace. I think a new one might cut my heating costs by 1/3 but a new one would cost around $3000. Still, my bill last month was $200 and it will only get worse as the winter gets colder and still worse in the coming years as natural gas gets more expensive. But even if I could save $600 a year in heating costs it would take five years just to break even.

I could probably get better insulation in the attic which would help some but a lot of the cold comes in from my leaky windows and from my walls. All I have to do is touch my cold walls to know that they arent keeping all of the heat inside. But probably it is the windows that are the worst thing as far as leaks go. I have an old house and old single pane wood frame windows. I cant get new windows because I live in a historic district and the requirements for new windows make them far too expensive for me. Still the drafts from the windows are so bad that when the wind blows, I can feel it through the windows. And that plastic sheeting is cheap (around $20 per window) but so ugly. I guess I have to choose: ugly but warm or fabulous but freezing.

I am going with the ugly but warm but I think I'll put a copy of my DTE bill in my pocket so I can look at it everytime I look at that plastic on my window and hate it.

"Man, I HATE that plastic on the window. It is soooo ugly!!!"

**reaches into pocket and gets out bill**

"Oh yeah...riiiiiiight"

5 comments:

island Jen said...

we used to have a snow drift on the floor just below our windows. they were horrible! i used that plastic sheeting all the time and you couldn't even tell it was on there. except for the lack of snow inside my house...
what makes it so ugly??

S. Lynne Fremont said...

During really windy snow storms, I have had snow blow in through the drafty windows but only a very little bit that isnt enough to even form a puddle when it melts. Still, I need the plastic.

I dont know why I think it is ugly. Part of it is that I never get it right and it distorts the view outside (so I am not putting any on the one window of my house I actually spend a lot of time looking out). I probably should borrow a hair dryer which would make it look less ugly.

Ali said...

The hairdryer makes a big difference.

And in the house behind you on Prospect, the plastic made a pretty damn big difference in my heating bills.

See also, door socks (or whatever they're called) that you put on the floor in front of the gap at the bottom.

Also I don't remember if you have curtains or blinds - but curtains can actually help also.

/soapbox off. ;)

Ali

E-Speed said...

i am hoping our bill wont be too bad. I have been trying to keep the temperature lower than I like.

i think we need to insulate our attic better.

hope you get the place feeling cozy.

Sandy said...

I have thick insulated curtains (canvas with a layer of vinyl type stuff) that help with our leaky windows. They weren't horribly expensive, and they're good for keeping the sun out in the summer, too (got them at "Plow & Hearth" of all places). My friend in Alaska has thick quilted curtains with magnets in the edges that fasten all around her window frame. You could probably do the same thing with velcro. Both these things only work if you're covering the window, though, and I need sunlight when it is there in the winter.

Our windows are leaky and crappy and they're only 21 years old. Shoddy subdivision contractors. When we win the lottery, that will be second on our list, right after the new roof.