Letters to the Editor

Heating issue

March 5, 2008

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To the editor:

I read with great interest the Jan. 16 article concerning the heating bills of our county courthouse. I don't know its square footage, but I can tell you mine is a whole lot smaller. It is a modest slab home of 1,730 square feet.

Here is my beef: My heating bills are outrageous! Last March my gas bill was a grand total of $300.82. This past December it was $250.85. I really dreaded getting my January 2008 bill because it was a much colder month. With anticipation, it finally came. I ripped it open to find a grand total of $289.57!! I keep my thermostat set at a cool 68 degrees. For extra warmth, I keep an electric heater in my bathroom, one in the kitchen and another in my office.

I don't know how old the heating equipment is in the courthouse but my system is only 2 1/2 years old. I have an 80 percent efficient furnace BUT it does not operate as such. It runs almost continuously. In a simple statement, I can't afford to continue paying these horrible heating bills!

Although I realize the city recently made some code changes regarding more efficient systems, I'm still not convinced that these changes will protect future home owners from the same issues I face.

I suppose the only alternative I have, is to replace my current furnace with a higher efficiency model and also add more insulation in my attic. Of course, this would be at my own expense!

Bea Brien,

Lawrence

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 4 months ago

The problem probably isn't your furnace. It's your house. Try closing the door when your trying to warm up.

Brent Garner 7 years, 4 months ago

Another issue you may be having is that your home is under insulated. If you don't have enough insulation in your walls and ceiling it won't matter how efficient your furnace is because the heat the furnace generates flows right through the walls and ceiling to the outside. This will also affect your efforts to cool your home during the summer.

50YearResident 7 years, 4 months ago

The people living in large older homes in Old West Lawrence must be paying huge heating bills. Bush should be proud for getting the price of oil up. Those on assistance to pay their bills can never afford to make their house more energy efficient.

craigers 7 years, 4 months ago

I dread gas bills. And I am with bkgarner up there about the insulation. Our house is only 3 bed, 2 bath, 1300 sq. feet and our bills have been 150 (Jan), 180(Feb), and 160(March). We keep our thermostat at about 70 degrees. With a pregnant wife and kid, you can't really freeze them out at home when I go to work!! I think what really bothers me is that we have a relative that has a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home with a basement that has the same priced heating bills than we do and to top it off, she keeps it around 72. It is hot in that two-level house but obviously it was built well and has good insulation. It still drives me nuts that I pay the same for about half the size of a home.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure a 1730 sf house would qualify as "modest" in my opinion. That's about twice as big as the one my wife and I live in.

We keep the house at 67-68 during the day, don't heat our bedroom, and turn off the heat at night. Using the "average payment" plan, we're paying about $45-46/month for gas service, and about $35/month for electricity (which includes CA). We have a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer as well.

I highly recommend the average payment plan to eliminate large unpleasant bills, and being mindful in one's usage.

OnlyTheOne 7 years, 4 months ago

Sorry but 68 isn't "cool!'" Unless you're talking summer temperature. Ours never goes above 66 and rolls back at night to 63. When I was a child my parents set theirs back to 55 every night! You might as well get used to it, it's not gonna get any cheaper.

Logan5 7 years, 4 months ago

Bea,

Do not replace your furnace--even though it is inefficient, that is not your problem. Your bills are at least 3 times what they should be. You should be looking for something major! Check to see if there is any insulation at all in the attic. Sometimes builders just forget. Check your furnace filter to make sure it is not completely blocked. Your heat runs are almost certainly in your attic with flex duct. Perhaps one or more is completely disconnected. If all else fails, call a HERS rater to do an audit. Some of these guys have Infra-red cameras to help find major problems.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 4 months ago

Great advice, Logan5.

Two things that I've done in my home to dramatically improve its efficiency are to install a programmable thermostat (temp drops when we leave for work, and is set to warm the house for our arrival home) and a good storm door. I've also heard that you shouldn't let your daytime temeratures get too low, otherwise when you get home and crank the heater on it takes more energy/gas to heat the house to a comfortable level than to maintain a cooler yet still reasonable temperature. Ours is 68 when home, 64 when gone/sleeping. Also, with a South facing front door, adding a solid storm door has made a HUGE difference on our bills. In my little townhome, the thermostat is about 10 feet from the front door, and before the storm door was installed, the thermostat would constantly kick on due to the freezing winds that were coming in around the door and creating a "cold zone." Bills are easily 1/3rd of what they were before installing the storm door.

The thermostats are easy to install too. And if you get an "energy efficient" storm door, you can also deduct that on the next year's taxes.

Funny story: the other night, my wife (a frequently cold feeling woman) was complaining about how cold she felt the house was. Well, earlier that day I had decided to try an experiment, and dropped the thermostat to 62 to see if she would notice. Well, she did, and man she was pissed! I would NOT recommend trying this yourself! She made me crank it up to 70, and get ger a hot chocolate. I learned my lesson!

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, when I said "Bills are easily 1/3rd of what they were before installing the storm door" I meant they are 2/3 of what they were (or I noticed a 1/3 reduction in the monthly bills).

Maybe you should also consider "normalizing" your bill?

LogicMan 7 years, 4 months ago

Time for an "energy audit". If you are in the City and lower-income, use this wonderful free "weatherization" program:

http://www.lawrenceneighres.org/HomeImprovement.shtml

coolmarv 7 years, 4 months ago

We have a 2000 sq ft home (two story with basement) I don't know the exact amount but I'm sure our January bill was under $200. Our furnace is about 5 years old and our house 20 years old. We keep our thermostat at about 68. Our neighbors who live in a two story slab had a bill of close to $650. The previous months payment was about the same. (the bill was in our mail and I accidently opened it) I can't imagine what they are doing to have a bill that high.

guesswho 7 years, 4 months ago

hey hawk - won't keeping the saran wrap on the stool prevent bodily fluids from actually entering the stool, thereby saving a flush or two? Maybe put a run off collection bucket?

Remember - 'if it is yellow, let it mellow and if it is brown, flush it down'

Susan Mangan 7 years, 4 months ago

Craigers - I applaud you for making your pregnant wife comortable. We saved a fortune when I was pregnant, though, becuase it was mainly during the winter and I was so hot all of the time. My poor husband froze to keep me nice and comfy. That was the only time in my life that I liked it cold and we had low bills. Maybe pregnancy is the key to low gas bills. Just avoid the summer months becuase those were torture, and electricity ain't cheap, either. LOL

craigers 7 years, 4 months ago

MD and Voice of Reason, thank you for the congrats. I could probably turn the heat down, but seeing my 18-month old run around in a puffy jacket probably isn't too nice. However, he might end up with less bruises as he runs and falls! LOL.

As for the other comments, i think I might have to check out a storm door for our house and check the insulation in the attic. We have a raised ceiling in the living room (where the thermostat is), and I can't remember if there was a lot of insulation up there or not the last time I was in the attic. I really think the blown in insulation is pretty crappy.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 7 years, 4 months ago

The first thing I did when I purchased my modest starter home of 1100 sq feet was to put in blown insulation in the attic on top of the too thin batting that was up there. I did it myself for a couple hundred dollars and now there are a couple of feet of it keeping us cozy. My gas bills are $41 every month. We use a simple two temperature/time programable thermostate. I also keep the temp at 68 most of the waking time and down to 65 at night and when gone. I invested in wool long johns and socks. Proper clothing really helps and worth the cost. When was the last time you flushed your water heater? Is the water heater set at a reasonable temperature? Anything hotter than you can stand it on your skin is a waste of gas.

Tom McCune 7 years, 4 months ago

Programmable thermostat is the biggest bang for the buck. Get a really good comforter and set the thermostat below 60° all night. I go for 56° at night and when we're at work. Perfectly comfortable with the thick comforter & Mrs. Post.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 4 months ago

Another simple solution can be to - if you have any - remember to turn your ceiling fans to winter mode (where the airflow is directed upwards, and helps direct the warm air that's collected there down towards the floor). Just be sure the fan is off and not moving before you flip the switch (which should be located on the motor housing somewhere).

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