heating http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/23/all en-US Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep Heating Costs Low? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-keep-heating-costs-low <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-keep-heating-costs-low" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_fireplace_warm_17985667.jpg" alt="Woman keeping heating costs low with fireplace" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-keep-heating-costs-low#comment-798625">Miss Kim</a>, Samantha, and Matthew for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>We're well into fall, which means temperatures will drop over the next few months. Heating is a big expense for many households this time of year.</p> <p><strong>How do you keep heating costs low?</strong> What steps do you take to prepare your home and family for winter?</p> <p>Tell us how you keep heating costs low and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For Extra Entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa267/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="79857dfa267" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_40b28y0y">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on Flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, October 24th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 24th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us how you keep heating costs low and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-keep-heating-costs-low">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-share-your-favorite-frugal-holiday-tradition">Ask the Readers: Share Your Favorite Frugal Holiday Tradition</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-are-you-optimistic-about-2011">Ask the Readers: Are You Optimistic About 2011?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-name-your-favorite-moment-of-2010">Ask the Readers: Name Your Favorite Moment of 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-gift-cards-make-a-good-gift">Ask the Readers: Do Gift Cards Make a Good Gift?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers heating Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1812614 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid These 5 Hidden Costs of Winter http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/winter_woman_000052678066.jpg" alt="Woman trying to avoid hidden costs of winter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As I type this article, the temperature outside is negative 17 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind chill? Negative 32. And this is, like, our fifth round of this frigid nonsense this year. We've gotten used to the cold, so I complain mostly to establish my clout as a northern girl who knows her winter weather and storms. As you might not know, there are costs hidden in the feet of snow dumped on our streets, the ice coating the trees overhanging our homes, and the plunging temperatures that seem unrelenting. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-do-now-to-prepare-for-winter?ref=seealso">9 Things You Need to Do Now to Prepare for Winter</a>)</p> <p>Here's how to avoid paying them.</p> <h2>1. Frozen Pipes</h2> <p>We had a plumber over the other day, and he was telling us about all the frozen pipes his team has been dealing with this winter. When pipes burst, they don't just dump water into your home. They run a path of destruction, ruining flooring, flooding furnaces, and more. The costs can be staggering. To avoid this unfortunate situation, make sure your pipes stay warm. The plumber explained to us that problems often arise when people go away and turn their heat down low, so keep your thermostat on a toasty 65 or higher. And learn where your <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFZwynKnbQE">main water shutoff valve</a> is so you can stop the worst damage before it starts.</p> <h2>2. Fire Hazards</h2> <p>When the weather gets frightful, people often turn to secondary heating source to supplement the furnace. They switch on things like electric or gas heaters, gas or wood stoves, and light up fireplaces. Whenever you're using a flame inside your home, make sure you're watching it carefully. Fire is one of the most costly tragedies because you could lose absolutely everything you own, including your home. Get your <a href="http://www.csia.org/about-csia/faq.aspx">chimney cleaned annually</a> to eliminate the risk of fire. And always open your flue the whole way, which will keep the airflow in proper order.</p> <h2>3. Fallen Trees</h2> <p>With all that ice and snow and wind, there's a risk that trees around your home might fall without notice. We've never experienced this one ourselves, but we did almost buy a home where several sick-looking trees were overhanging the property. I still walk by that place and wonder when the damage is going to happen. Although there's not a lot you can do to ensure those trees won't come crashing down onto your roof or worse, you can be proactive &mdash; especially since costs aren't always covered by insurance. If you have trees hanging close to your house, consider trimming them back. Remove rotting or sick trees entirely. You can often get a free quote for the work (get several), and though it might cost a lot upfront, you'll save later on.</p> <h2>4. Ice Dams</h2> <p>We've had some impressively long icicles this year. They're both beautiful and slightly terrifying at the same time. Not only do ice dams pose dangers to people hanging below, but they can also cause some <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/weather/index.ssf/2015/02/snow_cold_means_icicle_season_in_cny_where_are_the_biggest_ones.html">major roof problems</a> by blocking water from flowing freely. Try removing as much snow as possible from your roof. If that's not a viable option, try removing icicles or hire a professional to come out and do it for you. It will cost less to take care of an issue before it gets downright nasty. To prevent the dams next year, add more insulation to your attic and check out heated wires you can install on gutters that melt ice away.</p> <h2>5. Utility Costs</h2> <p>Now, with the electric components, especially heaters, utility costs can climb. Your heater could be costing you between $50 and $120 per month to run &mdash; and when you consider that winter lasts forever some places, that adds up fast. Try running your heater at minimum and &mdash; instead &mdash; layering up with warm clothes for free. Otherwise, some general home maintenance can take care of a lot of the dollars that are literally flying out your windows. Check around for drafts and cover them up. Get your furnace serviced to ensure it's running properly. Use thermal curtains to block cold air out on the worst days. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs?ref=seealso">7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Utility Costs</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you control the high cost of a chilly winter? Let us know in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Energy Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-snow-and-save">How to Remove Snow and Save</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/56-life-hacks-to-help-you-win-at-winter">56 Life Hacks to Help You Win at Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-great-jobs-for-snowbirds">9 Great Jobs for Snowbirds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-do-now-to-prepare-for-winter">9 Things You Need to Do Now to Prepare for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home heating home maintenance snow winter Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1315155 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Energy Costs http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-changing-thermostat-iStock_000032848840Small.jpg" alt="woman changing thermostat" title="woman changing thermostat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's snow in the forecast. As much as I'd like to ignore all the fallen leaves in our backyard and gloss over the shorter daylight hours, the fact remains: Winter is upon us.</p> <p>We're in a new-to-us home this year, so how much our heating might cost is a wildcard. Thankfully, we've lined up some defenses to keep our energy bills as low as they can be. And these simple tips are universally helpful whether you live in a 1960s ranch or an 1880s Victorian.</p> <h2>1. Tame Drafts</h2> <p>The best way to keep the warm air in is to make sure it isn't flowing out. Take a tour around your home and examine windows and doors for any drafts. Our front door had a sizable gap at its base, so we installed weatherstripping and it took care of the cold air problem immediately.</p> <p>There are many ways to <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5955246/drafty-how-to-seal-your-windows-and-doors-from-the-cold">fill in voids</a>, including stripping, insulator kits, foam, silicone, etc. If you're in an apartment or just want a temporary fix, you can also use one of those draft guards. Here's a <a href="http://thefeltmouse.blogspot.com/2009/02/we-got-new-dog.html">DIY tutorial</a> using an old pair of tights, polyfill, and only a few stitches.</p> <h2>2. Lower the Thermostat</h2> <p>How low can you go on your thermostat this winter? Start just one degree and you could <a href="http://news.discovery.com/earth/big-savings-by-degrees-120515.htm">save up to 5%</a> (or around $10 per day) on your overall heating bill according to an analysis released by EnergyHub in 2012. The EPA recommends settings on 70 degrees during the eight hours most people are home turning it down to 62 degrees for the 16 hours when people are away or sleeping. And if you can get away with keeping your thermostat on lower (we keep ours on 67 during the day), that's great, too. Using a <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Simple-Dollar/2012/0601/Properly-used-a-programmable-thermostat-cuts-energy-costs">programmable thermostat</a> also helps you save by taking out the manual temperature changing.</p> <h2>3. Cover Yourself</h2> <p>Feeling nervous about taking the plunge? Keeping comfortable at lower thermostat levels isn't difficult. Wear more clothing! Long sleeves, pants, thick socks, and layers are the fashion statements in our house during the winter. We also keep a fleece blanket on the couch to ward off chills in the evening. Our beds are topped with flannel sheets and wool covers for the nights when our thermostat is at its lowest setting. You don't want to be frigid all season long, but some common sense is employed here.</p> <h2>4. Zone It Out</h2> <p>My family lives in a 4-bedroom home, but we're currently only using two of those bedrooms on a daily basis. So, we've closed the hot air vents in those rooms to redirect the heating to the spaces we're living in and keep the doors shut most hours of the day. If you have baseboard heating, see if there's a localized switch in your room so you can turn it off and shut the door. The savings here are hard to quantify because so many factors are involved (room size, etc.), however &mdash; the less area to heat, the more money that stays in your pockets.</p> <h2>5. Use Curtains</h2> <p>During the day, take advantage of the sun's rays by opening your curtains to let the light in. Even on the coldest days you'll get a boost, especially with those south-facing windows in the afternoon rays. Then in the evening, close your curtains to help keep the heat indoors. If your windows are bare (or you only have sheers), consider purchasing some <a href="http://www.sparkenergy.com/blog/2012/january/save-energy-with-insulated-curtains/">insulated curtains</a>, which protect your home from heat loss through conduction, infiltration, convection, and radiation. They come in all colors and patterns, too!</p> <h2>6. Service Your Furnace</h2> <p>It's one of those annoying home maintenance tasks you don't think you should need to do, but getting your furnace cleaned and evaluated each year can help save you cash and unexpected breakdowns. (It's also a safety thing, as furnaces can leak carbon monoxide into your home without your knowledge.) You'll also need to change out the filter at least once per season &mdash; or whenever it's dirty &mdash; to keep everything flowing as it should. Check your local coupon books to see if any HVAC providers are offering promotions.</p> <h2>7. Add Insulation</h2> <p>If your house is still feeling quite cold, take a trip to your attic to assess the insulation situation. In our last home, we were surprised to find only a few inches of the stuff keeping our heat from flowing out the roof. (Insulation acts like a hat does on your body.) We added a thick fiberglass roll to the entire attic ourselves and could tell the difference in our second floor level almost immediately. How much insulation you add and where you add it is going to depend on your home. If you plan to stay there for quite a while, it certainly makes sense to <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/adding-insulation-existing-home">evaluate and correct</a> any issues that might cost you big dollars as the years go on.</p> <p><em>How do you save on your winter energy bill? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter">How to Avoid These 5 Hidden Costs of Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stay-warm-without-burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket">Stay Warm Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-in-your-kitchen-that-get-rid-of-bad-smells-naturally">6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Green Living Home furnace heating insulation utility bill winter Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1251558 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Stay Warm This Winter Without Turning Up the Heat http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-warm-this-winter-without-turning-up-the-heat <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stay-warm-this-winter-without-turning-up-the-heat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/573767_43395671.jpg" alt="hands in mittens" title="hands in mittens" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.farmersalmanac.com/weather/2010/12/06/which-pole-is-colder-north-or-south/"><em>Farmers' Almanac</em></a>, the average temperature at the North Pole is -30&deg;F, while the average temperature at the South Pole is -60&deg;F. While both of those sound like miserably cold places to spend the winter, I would argue that my small, Midwestern city is also bone-chilling this time of year. So how is a young twentysomething on a budget to stay warm this winter without cranking up her heat? Here are my top five ways to beat the chill. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter" title="10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter ">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</a>)</p> <h2>Space Heater</h2> <p>Space heaters are a good way to heat a small area of your home or office, and they can lower your overall energy bill if you turn down the thermostat in conjunction with using one. A space heater is my method of choice for staying warm at work. Knowing that my office is warm and toasty makes the long trek from our parking lot (OK, three blocks &mdash; but still a frigid expedition in the winter months!) more bearable. Some space heaters use natural gas or propane, but the majority are electric. If considering a natural gas or propane heater, check out the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html">EPA's Introduction to Indoor Air Quality</a>.</p> <p>A great website to visit if you&rsquo;re trying to choose a space heater that will lower your heating bill while maximizing comfort is the <a href="http://www.dnr.mo.gov/energy/residential/spaceheaters.htm">Missouri Department of Natural Resources</a> (Missouri is my home state). The site has information about choosing the right space heater, determining the cost to operate it, efficiency, and safety. When you&rsquo;re ready to buy, visit <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/heating-cooling-and-air/space-heaters/index.htm"><em>Consumer Reports</em>' Buying Guide</a> to compare various models.</p> <h2>Warmer Clothing</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ll admit, part of my reason for wanting a space heater at work has to do with my clothing choices. Giving up skirts and short sleeves entirely for four to six months just seems unreasonable to me. However, I could cut down on heating costs at work and at home simply by buying a warmer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-update-your-winter-wardrobe-on-the-cheap" title="10 Ways to Update Your Winter Wardrobe on the Cheap">winter wardrobe</a>. Many experts agree that <a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/">Gore-Tex</a>&reg; is warm, waterproof, and one of the best &ldquo;fabrics&rdquo; (in quotations because it is actually a membrane that is laminated to other textiles) for outdoor gear. If your office generally frowns upon wearing full <em>al fresco</em> attire indoors, though, other warm options are fleece and wool apparel. The important thing to note when considering warmer attire is whether it could be <em>too </em>warm &mdash; if a sweater makes you perspire, some fabrics, such as cotton, are terrible at absorption. The result is that you&rsquo;ll end up both wet and cold, a pretty awful combination.</p> <h2>Snuggie</h2> <p>What option do you have for staying warm <em>and</em> keeping your hands free to answer the phone? The <a href="http://www.mysnuggiestore.com/">Snuggie</a>&reg;, of course! I personally don&rsquo;t own one, and I&rsquo;m honestly more amused by the commercials than intrigued by the product, but I couldn&rsquo;t resist adding this one to the list. And although I don&rsquo;t have one, my 80-pound Boxer does. Yes, they make Snuggies&reg; for dogs. He seems to enjoy his, although I haven&rsquo;t asked him if it keeps him warm.</p> <h2>Gas Fireplace</h2> <p>You might think that firing up your wood-burning fireplace is a good way to cut down on your heating bills while staying warm. Unfortunately, you&rsquo;d be wrong. According to the <a href="http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/printable_versions/fireplaces.html">U.S. Department of Energy</a>, wood-burning fireplaces are one of the least efficient heat sources you can use. Gas-burning fireplaces, however, can be fairly energy efficient. A vented gas fireplace like the one I have in my house can have an energy star rating as high as 77%. I especially enjoy flipping the switch on mine in the evening in order to thaw out after my usual after-dinner run.</p> <h2>Programmable Thermostat</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t have one of these, but I sure wish that I did. According to <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm/ia/new_homes/qhmi/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&amp;pgw_code=TH">EnergyStar.gov</a>, the average household spends $2,200 per year on energy bills &mdash; nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling expenses. Homeowners could save about 15% on those costs just by correctly setting and maintaining their thermostat temperature. The Energy Star website above also has guidelines for temperature settings at night and when you&rsquo;ll be gone for several hours. Typically, you should adjust your temperature by 5 to 8&deg;F (higher or lower, depending on the season) during these times in order to save energy.</p> <p>Do you agree with my list? What other methods do you use to beat the chill in the wintertime?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/janey-osterlind">Janey Osterlind</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-warm-this-winter-without-turning-up-the-heat">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Energy Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stay-warm-without-burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket">Stay Warm Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter">How to Avoid These 5 Hidden Costs of Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home conserve energy heating heating bills keeping warm saving money on bills Tue, 14 Dec 2010 13:00:12 +0000 Janey Osterlind 385305 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways To Lower Water Heater Costs http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/shower_0.jpg" alt="water shower" title="water shower" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="175" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your water heater can account for <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/changing-habits.html">13% of home energy costs</a>.&nbsp; The good news is that there are small, easy tweaks you can make to lower those costs and conserve energy at the same time.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Use less</strong><br /> Nora has a bunch of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-the-planet-one-drop-at-a-time">great suggestions to reducing water use</a>, but when it comes to hot water specifically, it's the shower that keeps most people raising the dial on their water heaters. Use low-flow showerheads, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-a-shower-in-sixty-seconds-or-less">take quicker showers</a>, turn off the water when you are soaping up, and stick with mild, lukewarm water. It's really not so bad -- trying to change your shower habits.&nbsp; Try <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-hot-water-now-what">going without a water heater at all</a>, and you'll realize you need a lot less hot water than you think.</p> <p>Also consider using cold water to wash your clothes. About <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/changing-habits.html">90% of the energy use</a> in a clothes washer goes to water heating. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-clothes-last-longer-without-spending-big">Cold water washing</a> also helps clothes last longer!</p> <p><strong>Turn it down</strong><br /> Your water heater maintains its temperature 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.&nbsp; That takes a lot of energy.&nbsp; The standard setting is 140&ordm;F but most households should get by comfortably at <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">120&ordm;F</a>.&nbsp; For every 10&ordm;F you turn down on your water heater, you save <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">3%-5% in energy costs</a>. Turning it down to 120&ordm;F could cut your costs by 6%-10%.&nbsp; As long as you are reducing your use with the tips above, you won't even notice.&nbsp; Make sure to consult your manual for proper instructions on adjusting the thermostat. For example, the <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">electricity should be turned off</a> before adjusting electric water heaters.</p> <p><strong>Turn it off</strong><br /> If you're going off on vacation, turn the temperature way down, or completely off. When you get home, you'll just need to wait about <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">an hour to reheat</a> before the hot water gets back in service. If you have a gas heater, make sure you know how to <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">relight the pilot light</a> before turning it off (or just turn it down without completely turning it off).</p> <p><strong>Insulate</strong><br /> Adding insulation is inexpensive and can reduce standby heat losses by 25%-45%, saving you <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13070">4%-9% in water heating costs</a>. Check to see if your heater has a R-value of at least 24 (if your water heater is less than ten years old, it&rsquo;s likely it&rsquo;s already <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">optimally insulated</a>). You can also do a touch test &ndash; if it&rsquo;s <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13070">warm to the touch</a>, it needs additional insulation. Make sure to check your manual for insulation instructions.</p> <p><strong>Set a timer</strong><br /> Again, a lot of energy is used to keep the water hot 24 hours a day. And really, you only need it a few times a day. If you have an electric water heater, a timer can be installed to turn it off during off peak hours (at night after you go to bed). This can save <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13110">5%-12% of energy</a>. For gas heaters, you can keep it turned down most of the time, and then manually turn it up about a half hour before you need it. Timers cost about $60 and should <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13110">pay for themselves in about a year</a>.</p> <p><strong>Reuse </strong><br /> Hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That can be <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13040">80%&ndash;90% of the energy</a> used to heat water in a home. Drain-water (or greywater) heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures. Heat can be recovered from hot water used in showers, sinks, dishwashers, and clothes washers. Prices for drain-water heat recovery systems range from $300 to $500 (and you&rsquo;ll need a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to install the system). It can take <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13040">2.5 to 7 years</a> to recover that cost in savings, depending on how often the system is used.</p> <p><strong>Buy a more efficient one</strong><br /> If your water heater is old, it might be good to look into getting a new one. New water heaters today are considerably <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">more energy efficient</a> than those of 20 years ago. In addition, Energy Star models can be <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/tools/energy_tips.html">15% more efficient</a> than standard models. Look for one with heat traps, which <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13100">prevents convective heat losses</a> through the inlet and outlet pipes. Find the <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12770">best type of water heater</a> for your home and look for <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/tools/rgl.html">rebates and incentives</a> for energy-efficient appliances and equipment.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-mondays">12 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Mondays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill">Six Ways to Stay Warm and Reduce the Heating Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-daylight-saving-time-a-complete-waste-of-energy">Is daylight-saving time a complete waste of energy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hold-off-on-heating-with-these-10-warming-ways-0">Hold Off On Heating with These 10 Warming Ways</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/as-the-wood-burns-the-top-3-biomass-heating-sources-revealed">As the Wood Burns: The Top 3 BioMass Heating Sources Revealed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Life Hacks bills conserve energy environment green heating water heater Mon, 12 Jan 2009 01:24:22 +0000 Lynn Truong 2730 at http://www.wisebread.com Hold Off On Heating with These 10 Warming Ways http://www.wisebread.com/hold-off-on-heating-with-these-10-warming-ways-0 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hold-off-on-heating-with-these-10-warming-ways-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stocking cap_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="239" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">It’s October.<span>  </span>In Nebraska.<span>  </span>We will see Halloween before we smell the crackling logs on our wood stove.<span>  </span>Because it is such a big deal for many to finally crank on the heat, we’ve implemented 10 strategies for keeping warm just a wee bit longer – sans heating unit. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Open the shades.</strong><span>  </span>Right now we are under construction, and the drapes clash horribly with the freshly-sanded trim and the plastic-covered furniture.<span>  </span>Since we have no window coverings during this time of transition, we reap the benefits of sunkissed warmth spreading through our home during the 10am – 5 pm hours.<span>  </span>Free heat feels so good. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Put an end to line drying</strong>.<span>  </span>We enjoy hanging our clothes out on the line when it is warm.<span>  </span>Now that frost has fallen, we reverse our thinking to utilize the heat our dryer produces.<span>  </span>Since our dryer wasn’t vented outside our home, we use a lint receptacle to “catch” the lint.<span>  </span>These kits are under $15 at a hardware store, and in addition to the benefit of having the dryer heat in our home, the added moisture is nice during the winter months.<span>  </span>(Be sure to keep this system in check with weekly cleanings and adequate water to the trap.<span>  </span>Families with allergies will need to be especially diligent.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Dress in layers</strong>.<span>  </span>I am still seeing kids walk to school in shorts, despite the 35 degree mornings. This is ridiculous to me, as clothing is the cheapest way to stay warm in this season of transition.<span>  </span>Once the first frost appears, I rid my kids&#39; drawers of shorts and sleeveless tops, packing them up into plastic tubs for winter storage.<span>  </span>They are free to choose from any of their winter clothing, and I encourage them to dress in a t-shirt under their warmer clothes for added warmth.<span>  </span>They don’t complain about the cold when they are properly dressed (including socks and indoor shoes.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Make your bed.</strong><span>  </span>We also switch our sheets to flannel for the winter.<span>  </span>We supplement each bed with a wool blanket and an extra quilt or two.<span>  </span>In the upstairs room (where it is coldest) the adults have an electric blanket set on low for the really cold nights.<span>  </span>It’s amazing how peaceful you can sleep with a chill to the air and your body comfortably warm. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Top it off.</strong><span>  </span>My ultra-sexy nightwear consists of sweats or long underwear with wool socks.<span>  </span>I also wear a stocking cap on the colder nights.<span>  </span>It keeps me feeling snug, and I have less bed head in the morning.<span>  </span>(Plus, hubby thinks it’s cute!) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Spice things up.</strong><span>  </span>Cold sandwiches take a sabbatical for the winter at my house.<span>  </span>We bust out the chili recipes, crockpot fare, and make all our evening meals a bit zestier than normal.<span>  </span>Most of it is purely psychological – but it does help keep a warmth about the dinner table.<span>  </span>(Another perk is the economics of spicy meals.<span>  </span>Many of them are dirt cheap.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Keep hydrated.</strong><span>  </span>Our hot cocoa bill is higher than normal during the winter.<span>  </span>We replace our chocolate milk with hot chocolate (Ovaltine works well for a vitamin-packed alternative.)<span>  </span>I enjoy herbal teas and decaf coffees in the evenings. Hot apple cider kept simmering on the stove not only taste delish, but keeps your home smelling yummy. Replacing your cold drinks with hot ones can keep you toasty any time of day. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Snuggle.</strong><span>  </span>I’ll admit to letting my kids jump in bed with us a bit more in the winter time.<span>  </span>The toddlers are like radiant heaters that require no electricity.<span>  </span>Just toss a 3-year-old in the mix, for an instant 10-degree warm up.<span>  </span>(Cuddles are the cheapest form of heat I know.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Use a space heater (wisely.)</strong><span>  </span>I’m not a huge fan of the small electric heaters.<span>  </span>They are good for some things, but quite dangerous in other situations.<span>  </span>Use your head on this one, and under no circumstances should you leave one running overnight, in a child’s room unattended, or when you are not in the home.<span>  </span>If nothing else, I like one running in the bathroom first thing in the morning.<span>  </span>(It takes the edge off that cold seat, if you know what I mean.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Go to Grandma’s.</strong><span>  </span>Now I’m not saying that my house is too cold.<span>  </span>Many wouldn’t be comfortable in anything as chilly as 55 in October.<span>  </span>On days when I’m not particularly enthusiastic about watching TV in a cooler-than-average home (or once a week), I’ll head next door to my mother’s house.<span>  </span>She’s glad to see us, and she has cable.<span>  </span>(It’s also 10 degrees warmer by default.<span>  </span>If she’s already paying for gas, why not?) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Call me cheap or stingy, but I don’t see any reason to crank up the heat yet this year.<span>  </span>With 35-degree nights turning into almost 70-degree days, starting up my wood stove would leave us baked by mid-afternoon.<span>  </span>These tips help us in the month or two between seasons, keep our annual heating bill low, and help us to appreciate that roaring fire when it finally gets burning each year.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hold-off-on-heating-with-these-10-warming-ways-0">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/original-ways-to-use-original-dawn">Original Ways to Use Original Dawn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-ymmv-mean-the-official-guide-to-decoding-the-language">What Does “YMMV” Mean? The Official Guide to Decoding the Language of Frugality</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-cheap-and-easy-formulas-for-homemade-windshield-de-icer-plus-bonus-tips">3 Cheap and Easy Formulas for Homemade Windshield De-Icer (Plus Bonus Tips)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Life Hacks General Tips Green Living cold weather frugality heating Thu, 30 Oct 2008 01:35:57 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2553 at http://www.wisebread.com What if energy costs keep rising? http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fuel-prices-1.jpg" alt="Last year&#039;s gas prices" title="Last Year&#039;s Gas Prices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't know if energy costs will keep rising.&nbsp; Nobody does.&nbsp; Even with recent growth in China, India, and elsewhere, the US still consumes 25% of the oil produced world-wide, so a severe recession in the US could easily cut total demand enough to bring the price down.&nbsp; Recession or not, I think the medium-term trend in energy costs is up.&nbsp; Just in case I'm right, you ought to have plan for that.</p> <p>I've written before about <a href="/plan-for-expensive-fuel">planning for expensive fuel</a>.&nbsp; I emphasized that you should have a contingency plan either to take money from other budget categories to pay for expensive fuel, or else to reduce your fuel use significantly.&nbsp; That was short-term planning, though.&nbsp; This time I want to talk about longer-term planning.</p> <p>Some people still think that the recent surge in oil prices is a temporary aberration, and that oil prices will return to &quot;normal&quot; (whatever that is).&nbsp; Plenty of people think that recent prices reflect genuine underlying trends--supply restrictions from many sources together with persistently rising demand from all over the world--but that prices will reach a new equilibrium and stabilize.&nbsp; Some people, though, think that those underlying trends are likely to keep pushing prices up</p> <p>What's your plan, if that third view is correct?</p> <p>It's hard to plan in a vacuum, so let's put down some numbers.&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb0524.html">average price of gasoline</a> (unleaded regular) was $2.59 in 2006.&nbsp; The price yesterday at my local gas station was $3.799.&nbsp; If prices continue to rise at that rate, we'll see $10 gasoline within 5 years.</p> <p>I'm not saying that's the most likely scenario--everybody knows the dangers of assuming that recent trends will continue in a straight line--but it seems to me like a perfectly possible scenario.</p> <p>Most reporting on possible price trends in gasoline has recently accepted the notion that $4 gasoline is a foregone conclusion and is starting to talk about $5 gasoline as a scary boogyman.&nbsp; I'm urging you to look ahead a bit further.&nbsp; Gasoline at $5 a gallon is not the scariest boogyman out there.</p> <p>And remember, if gasoline prices keep going up, other energy costs will be moving up as well.&nbsp; Diesel, propane, and other fuels that come from crude oil (like heating oil, kerosine and jet fuel), face very similar production constraints and very similar demand situations, so they'll probably move up just about like gasoline.&nbsp; Electricity and natural gas are different, but high prices for oil will encourage anyone who can to switch to alternatives, so there'll be upward pressure on all all energy costs.&nbsp; Wind, solar, and biofuels will increase as a fraction of the mix, but I don't expect them to amount to enough to hold down prices.</p> <p>It's not as hard to adapt to high energy prices as you might think.&nbsp; Look at western Europe:&nbsp; Due to high taxes, they've had gasoline prices of $8 to $10 a gallon for some time now.&nbsp; The result hasn't been as drastic as you might expect.&nbsp; People still have cars, they're just smaller and more fuel-efficient.&nbsp; People still drive to work, although few people drive as far as a lot of Americans do and a lot more use mass transit in some form or another.&nbsp; People walk more and bicycle more, and because more people get about that way, the infrastructure tends to support it better.</p> <p>That's the outline of a plan for you:&nbsp; Switch to a more energy-efficient car.&nbsp; Move closer to work (or find a job closer to home).&nbsp; If you move, move to a smaller house.&nbsp; If you don't move, improve your insulation.&nbsp; Walk more; bicycle more; organize a car pool; figure out how the bus system works in your town.</p> <p>Make a plan.&nbsp; You don't have to act on it--even if prices keep rising, they probably won't rise in a straight line like that.&nbsp; But even a sketch of a plan gives you an outline for some serious thinking:</p> <ul> <li>At what fuel price would you switch to driving a smaller, more fuel efficient car?&nbsp; How much would that car cost?&nbsp; What would your old car be worth if you tried to sell it then?&nbsp; On both the buying and selling side, be sure to take into account the price pressures of lots of other people doing the same thing.&nbsp; (I just saw a story that the <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2008-05-08-suvs-resale-value_N.htm">resale value of SUVs has already collapsed</a>.) Whatever your plan is, you should have enough cash on hand to put it into effect.</li> <li>How would you heat your home if fuel prices doubled or tripled?&nbsp; Selling it and moving to a smaller house isn't the sort of thing you can just do--you need enough lead time to identify a new house and to sell your old one (or rent it out).&nbsp; And, again, you need to have enough cash on hand to put the plan into effect.&nbsp; If moving isn't the plan, what else would you do?&nbsp; Turn down the thermostat?&nbsp; Close off rooms?&nbsp; Estimate how much fuel you could save and make some notes--that'll be useful information later.</li> <li>If you wanted to use mass transit, do you know how?&nbsp; Do you know where the bus stop is?&nbsp; Is it possible to get to the office or to shopping from where you live?&nbsp; What bus would you take?&nbsp; Would you have to change buses?&nbsp; (Ditto for subways, trollies, light rail, or whatever you've got.)</li> <li>Is telecommuting an option for you?&nbsp; Even if your boss would object, if your job could be done remotely, you ought to include it as a possibility in your plan--bosses who don't like the idea of remote employees might well come around if their only other options are paying big raises or having employees quit because they can't afford to drive to work.&nbsp; Start figuring out what hardware and software you'd need to telecommute.&nbsp; Learn how to use it.</li> <li>Is your job at risk?&nbsp; Or, if you own a business, are its profits at risk?&nbsp; Rising energy costs would hit everyone across the economy, but some industries (trucking, airlines, aluminum) will be hit much harder than others.&nbsp; Take a look at your own situation and adjust your plan accordingly.</li> </ul> <p>One more thing to allow for in your plan:&nbsp; Shortages.&nbsp; When constituents are faced with high prices, politicians try to &quot;do something.&quot;&nbsp; Most of the things that governments tend to do in those situations (price controls, rationing, laws against hoarding) tend to produce shortages.&nbsp; The market system is pretty well established in the US, so I expect we'll see high prices rather than long-term or widespread shortages, but your plan ought to allow for the possibility of hearing &quot;No gas today&quot; from time to time.</p> <p>People are very attached to their big cars and big houses; they're not going to give them up--and I'm not asking them to.&nbsp; What I'm suggesting is that people think seriously about how they'd adapt to higher energy costs and be prepared with a plan, just in case higher energy costs are what we get.&nbsp; The last time I wrote here about the possibility that fuel prices might get really high, more than one commenter seemed to think I was talking about a real disaster scenario--going so far as to say, &quot;If things get that bad, a lot of people are going to die!&quot;&nbsp; I'd like to gently suggest that the adaptations to $10 gasoline are perfectly possible and almost universally non-fatal.&nbsp; Having a plan will help.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-expensive-fuel">Plan for expensive fuel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car">How Much Does it Cost Every Time you Get Into Your Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fix-energy-in-tangible-form">Fix energy in tangible form</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">Rural living in a world with expensive fuel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Cars and Transportation driving energy fuel fuel costs heating planning Fri, 09 May 2008 13:15:06 +0000 Philip Brewer 2076 at http://www.wisebread.com Six Ways to Stay Warm and Reduce the Heating Bill http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/jiffy.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last month our heating bill shot up from around $60 to more than $120 and my husband was not pleased. After receiving that bill we had a moratorium on using the heater. After two weeks of enduring chilly nights we gave up and started using the heater again. Actually there are many things we can do to save money on our heating bill and still stay warm. Here are some of the things I learned.</p> <p><strong>1. Make sure the heater is turned off when noone is in the house</strong> - We suspect that our increased bill is due to a few careless days when we forgot to turn off the heater and went to work. One of our friends did the same thing and now she has a note on the back of the door that says, &quot;Is the heater turned off?&quot; I think that is a good way to remind yourself to conserve energy.<br /><strong><br />2. Wear more clothing and wrap up in blankets</strong> - Puffy down jackets, fuzzy slippers, and blankets are all great weapons against the winter chill. We got some throw blankets for $10 and my husband said that little purchase has enabled him to play in the living room without feeling cold.</p> <p><strong>3. Utilize hot water </strong>- When I lived in China we used <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MR5RBI?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=stuffies-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000MR5RBI" target="_blank">rubber hot water bottles</a> to heat up the bed. These contraptions are quite safe as long as you don&#39;t intentionally pull out the plug. The energy used to heat up a bottle of water is much less than the energy required to run the heater on all night. Afterall, sometimes we turn on the heater at night just because it is hard to fall asleep in the cold.</p> <p><strong>4. Let the sun in </strong>- When the weather is not foul it is possible to warm up the house with the energy of the sun. All that has to be done is to lift the blinds and let the sun in. It does cool down later in the night, but depending on your home&#39;s insulation it is possible to keep the heat for a while.</p> <p><strong>5. Consider biomass fuels </strong>- We actually have a wood burning fireplace that we did not use because we have never used a fireplace before. I have been doing some reading and apparently it is not very hard. It is also possible to get free firewood from craigslist if we just pick them up. When I was young I heard that people in the countryside used cow patties for heating. I am not sure if that is true, but cow patties are good sources of energy. Linsey also had a <a href="/as-the-wood-burns-the-top-3-biomass-heating-sources-revealed" target="_blank">great article on biomass heating sources</a> here.</p> <p><strong>6. Move to a warmer place</strong> - When I lived in Hawaii we never had heaters. The winters there are just a bit below 70 degrees. Of course then you run into the problem of cooling in the summers, but that is the tradeoff.</p> <p>Anyway, some of you readers must think we are wimps for feeling cold in Northern California where there are about 10 days a year with freezing temperatures. What are your tips for staying warm and not be gouged by the energy company?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-football-teaches-us-about-money">9 Things Football Teaches Us About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-save-money-by-subscribing-to-an-addictive-game">Could you save money by subscribing to an addictive game?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-leaks-you-need-to-plug">7 Money Leaks You Need to Plug</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living General Tips energy heating saving winter Mon, 04 Feb 2008 20:12:25 +0000 Xin Lu 1744 at http://www.wisebread.com Plan for expensive fuel http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-expensive-fuel <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/fuel-prices-1.jpg" alt="Gas station sign" title="Gas station sign" width="400" height="300" /></p> <p>Does your budget include a contingency for fuel to get much more expensive? Because it ought to.</p> <p>I learned about the need for contingencies early. My first attempt at setting up housekeeping took place in 1980-1981, right at the peak of an inflationary spurt that saw the consumer price index grow at 14%. My budget was completely destroyed by prices that went up by more than 1% per month.</p> <p>So what&#39;s your contingency for a spike in fuel prices?</p> <p>For a few people who live in cities and walk or take mass transit, fuel is a small percentage of the total spending--small enough that a even a big increase in fuel prices won&#39;t break the budget. If you&#39;re not one of those people, you should either have a plan to take money from somewhere else in the budget, or else you should have a plan to reduce your driving if necessary.</p> <p>What other line item can you take money from? Discretionary money--entertainment and the like--has usually already been cut to the bone in the initial budget-making process, so there&#39;s not much money to take from there. The closest thing most people have in their budget for contingencies is the money that&#39;s going into savings--and taking the money from there is a terrible idea.</p> <p>That leaves reducing driving. Reducing driving in the short term is hard, but there are ways:</p> <ul> <li>combining trips--always a good idea anyway</li> <li>carpooling and other forms of ride sharing</li> <li>telecommuting</li> <li>bicycling or walking</li> <li>using mass transit</li> </ul> <p>In the longer term there&#39;s the opportunity to take more drastic action, such as moving closer to work or making investments in fuel economy, such as a more efficient car. (A moped, scooter, or motorcycle would be cheaper than any new car and much more fuel-efficient as well.)</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/fuel-prices-2.jpg" alt="Electric meter" title="Electric meter" width="330" height="247" align="left" />When making your contingency plan, remember that transportation fuel is not the only kind you need to pay for. Heating and electricity rates will go up right along with transportation fuel costs. </p> <p>This means that another part of your contingency plan should be energy-saving measures you can take at home: better insulation, adjusting the thermostat, etc. Even better, make the changes now and put the savings into a contingency fund. </p> <p>Also, don&#39;t forget that fuel price increases tend to drive price increases in everything else as well, starting with food.</p> <p>I&#39;m making a big deal out of this because higher fuel prices are in the cards. Fuel prices will go down as well as up, but the long-term trend will be up. According to the US <a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/">Energy Information Administration</a>, only three out of the top ten oil producing countries showed increases in production in 2006 over 2005. None of them showed significant increases and the two biggest (Saudi Arabia and Russia) both showed clear declines. In fact, total <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/theoildrum/~3/128101984/2693">world production of oil</a> has been flat since 2004.<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/fuel-prices-3.jpg" alt="Gas meters" title="Gas meters" width="339" height="210" align="right" /> </p> <p>Just as important as flat production is increases in consumption, especially in oil-producing countries. In part because of increasing domestic use, only two of the top ten oil exporting countries showed an increase in exports in 2006 over 2005. </p> <p>We will no doubt continue to increase production of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, but it&#39;s an open question how much of the gap between flat supplies and growing demand can be filled by renewables. Your contingency plan is for the very real possiblity that any gap will push up fuel prices. </p> <p>As I said, fuel prices will go down as well as up. There&#39;s a lot of low-hanging fruit in the US for conserving fuel. When prices get high enough, people will make the necessary changes, and many of those changes (moving closer to work, buying a more fuel-efficient car) will produce long-term reductions in demand--reductions that won&#39;t be quickly reversed, even if fuel prices drop. And, sometimes, that reduction in demand will be enough to produce a real drop in prices, but those drops in price won&#39;t come when you need them to save your budget. They&#39;ll come when you&#39;ve finally given in and adjusted your fuel use to the new reality.</p> <p>How will you handle higher fuel prices? You need to have a plan.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-expensive-fuel">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">What if energy costs keep rising?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">Rural living in a world with expensive fuel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rolling-stone-article-on-ethanol">Rolling Stone article on ethanol</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-spend-on-a-new-car">How Much Should You Spend on a New Car?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Cars and Transportation electricity fuel fuel costs heating transport Sun, 29 Jul 2007 20:34:27 +0000 Philip Brewer 920 at http://www.wisebread.com Stay Warm Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket http://www.wisebread.com/stay-warm-without-burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stay-warm-without-burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000022622012_Double.jpg" alt="warm digital thermostat" title="warm digital thermostat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the days get shorter and the wind colder, the heating bill has a way of creeping up. CNN Money offers six ways to <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/28/pf/heating_costs_savings/index.htm?postversion=2006112816">shrink that heating bill</a>.</p> <p>Here are home improvement tips to help you stay warm without being bundled up like an Eskimo all the time.</p> <ol> <li>Clean your furnace filter</li> <li>Get a programmable thermostat</li> <li>Take advantage of the sun</li> <li>Turn down the hot water</li> <li>Insulate and seal</li> <li>Upgrade your windows</li> </ol> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">The really good news is that by doing these things, you get a double bonus. There are tax breaks when you spend on energy efficient products! Keep your home warm with a lower heating bill </span><em style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">and</em><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;"> get a break from Uncle Sam on the new windows. Nice.</span></p> <p>According to an&nbsp;Alliance to Save Energy document, you can <a href="http://www.ase.org/content/article/detail/2654">get tax credits</a> for buying energy efficient goodies like:</p> <ul> <li>Hybrid car or SUV: $650 to $3,150</li> <li>Central air conditioner or heat pump: $300</li> <li>Furnace or boiler: $150</li> <li>Windows: $200</li> <li>Insulation and sealing: $500*</li> </ul> <p>(Note: there is a $500 max on home improvement. Read the rules and talk to your accountant to see how much you can save.)</p> <p>Be sure to scroll down to the Hybrid car section. Specific credit amounts are listed according to the car year and model. Check out how much your Prius saved you. With gas stuck at expensive and earth-friendly tax breaks in the books, can you really afford to keep driving that gas-guzzling monster SUV? That's so 1997.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stay-warm-without-burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Energy Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-green-home-rebates-that-save-you-big-in-2015">4 Green Home Rebates That Save You Big in 2015</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-online-resources-for-the-design-impaired">Top 5 Online Resources for the Design Impaired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home Taxes heating home improvement hybrid cars Mon, 04 Dec 2006 08:00:31 +0000 Greg Go 24 at http://www.wisebread.com