Above and below images of electricity usage are screenshots of the email the City of Fort Collins Utilities sent to Paul, 2018
Keeping Your Electric and Heating Bills Low
Most of our real estate lives, we aren’t buying or selling, but living in the property.
So how do we save money long term? Some easy analysis followed by slight tweaks in behavior may help lower your bills, as I have lowered mine to be one of the lowest energy users in my area.
Live Like You’re Camping
I truly learned this lesson of energy conservation on the trail and in the wild. I’ve been backpacking, touring, and otherwise playing in the woods and the wild for my whole life. A lesson one learns very quickly when away from electricity, running water and infrastructure is that every drop of water counts. Every watt of energy is precious. When energy was made scarce in backcountry situations, it became easy for me to understand that if I could enjoy myself and stay comfortable out there, I could certainly apply some of those lessons to use energy more wisely in my comfortable home. I made some standard tweaks WITHOUT SACRIFICING COMFORT that have saved me a lot of money.
Carrying all the water I needed, or having to make a trip to the source, filter, and carry it back taught me to understand that some of it needs to be for drinking and some of it for cleaning. It goes away quickly and it can be used more efficiently than easy access to clean running water informs us. Every drop is precious. I use it sparingly, as if it were going to run out, and my bills go down.
Add Layers of Clothing
I further found, tromping around the mountains of this great planet, that I can be quite comfortable down to a temperature of 40 degrees or so, given a heat source. That is NOT how I live at home, but since I am content and comfortable around a fire on cool days and nights, it is easy for me to make myself very cozy with the thermostat lower than what is considered normal by our soft, dare I say Nerf, society. 🙂 I stay in my comfort zone at lower temperatures at home the same way I do in wild—I add layers of clothing.
Simply wearing a pair of long underwear with cozy warmer active wear pants over top, a t-shirt, plus a long sleeve shirt, plus a top later, thicker socks and big burly slippers, my body is warm while the structure is cold. Frankly, I don’t find myself to be less comfortable but more, because I love wool. I know that I live this lifestyle and I shop accordingly. My closet is filled with warm but breathable wool socks, long underwear, and sweatshirts. I feel like I have jammies on all the time, though I certainly don’t look that way, as I like to dress for success!
Just adding that extra layer, as any lover of the backcountry knows how to do, and I can run my thermostat 10 degrees lower, or periodically turn it on and off throughout the day.
If I am alone, I’ll let it drop way low, because, frankly, I like rugged. 🙂 When I have company coming over, I turn up the heat to a normal level.
Don’t Heat the House When You Aren’t There
I don’t heat the house when I am not there, save for extremely cold situations where the heat is needed to keep the pipes from bursting, or to keep the home at a livable level.
I’m okay arriving at a place that is cold, and so is my three year old son.
Just like in backpacking, when my body is a bit cold at the end of the hiking day and I need to start a fire or set up a tent to warm up, I accept that when I get home after a day of work or whatever, my space will be a bit chilly for the first 15-30 minutes. If it’s really cold, I’ll crank the heat, let it fill the room, stay in warmer clothes, and pretty soon, it’s time to turn the thermostat down again.
I don’t heat empty rooms, and I keep doors closed to only heat the rooms, hallways and spaces that I am using.
Use the Sun, or Block it
In the summer, I make sure to use shade, so the place doesn’t over heat. In the winter, I let the sunlight in, enjoying the radiant heat and warm blessings it brings.
When Not In Use, Turn Off and Unplug
So, I am not as good at unplugging, but I am an obsessive turner-offer of electricity. I don’t keep lights on that I don’t need. I use the sunlight for all it is worth. I use it like I’ll lose it. When not in use, turn it off. Savings pile.
Air Sealing and Energy Audits
Recent lessons I’ve learned about making the most of our energy supply deal more with air sealing than insulation. If there are holes for the warm or cool air to escape, it will. So, audit your space. You can do this by simple visual inspections, and you can also take advantage of any services provided to you by your community. I’ve had all the spaces I’ve ever owned in Fort Collins officially audited by a service subsidized by the City. Pricing and availability withstanding, it can be a very cheap way to see what issues can be corrected in your home.
From a real estate perspective, this is a great selling point when it’s time for you list your home with me and buy something else. Or, if you turn it into a rental, it’s also a great selling point that the tenants can save on their energy dollar.
Replace the windows or, for a cheaper method, put plastic over them. For max efficiency, do both!
When fire is the only method for heating, it works well. Otherwise, a fireplace is just a HUGE hole in the house and energy goes up the chimney with more gusto than Santa comes down.
In the image above, you can see that I ran out of the tight fitting and more visually appealing plastic kits sold at hardware stores, so I used a big piece of plastic from my dry-cleaning! 🙂 I’ll replace it when I pick up a new batch, but in the meantime, this works perfectly well to keep the cool/warm air from leaving my space through the fireplace.
$5 worth of plastic and tape can save hundreds of dollars. It might not look perfect for some of your tastes, but I’ll take practical and economical over hoity-toity any day. Since I have electric heat, I keep the makings of a fire inside the fireplace and plastic over the whole thing. That way, if the power goes out during a bad winter storm, I have the makings of heat, and when it’s back, I can put $5 more of plastic and tape right back over it.
Four Things to Lower Energy Bills
I’ve done three simple things that have lowered my energy bills so I am using almost half the amount of energy than my most efficient neighbors:
- Use/Block the sun
- Extra layers of clothing
- Turn it off when not in use
- Seal up my space
It’s easy, and satisfying. There are many other things you can do, but these have yielded me great results.
If you want to buy or sell Fort Collins or Northern Colorado Real Estate, I would love to serve you and I want you to know THREE THINGS!
- I have time for you
- I will listen to you
- I am early, happy, and ready, and excited to serve your real estate goals and dreams!
YES! Have Paul send me a FREE CUSTOM REPORT on my Real Estate Situation!