Welcome to the weekly series, Growing up Green. This will be your eco-friendly stop for green, all-natural, toxin and chemical free tips for your family. Learn simple and meaningful ways to make your children’s environment a little safer for their health and the earth.
The mercury is dropping which often times means a skyrocketing heating bill. We live in an old home built in 1959. There are many cracks and crevices for cold air to sneak in uninvited! Over the past few weeks we have been gearing up for the winter and prevention of that unwanted out of control electric bill.
We started with developing a game plan for heating our home. The house is equipped with baseboard electric heat which I’ve heard is very inefficient. We also have a wood burning stove without a blower and one energy efficient space heater. Initially we thought we would be doomed with the baseboard heating. However we did some investigating and spoke with a patient who is an electric engineer. He said that baseboard heating can actually be very efficient when used properly. He said to turn them on when you are in a room and off when you leave. They work well heating small spaces. This will be great for the 2 bedrooms we use (the third room can just remain off). It may be a little chilly when first going to bed but after testing it out they actually heat the rooms surprisingly quick. They can be turned off during the day when the rooms are not in use. We thought we would have to turn on all base boards in all rooms at a minimum thermostat level to prevent frozen pipes but he said that is not necessarily the case. That brings us to the large living space where the kitchen, dinning and living rooms are located. Baseboard heating would not be efficient in this area so we tested out our wood burning stove. I was not too optimistic about it. I’ve lived in homes with a fire place and it only heated a few feet in front of the hearth. However, our neighbor has a stove and said it heats his entire house (his has a blower and duct system though). We were hoping ours would at least heat our living area. So on a cool night we tested it out. We were pleasantly surprised. That thing was HOT!! It was in the 30’s outside and Greg had to put on shorts, he was sweating so much! Granted he really loaded it up with wood thinking it would be a bust. The entire living area, all 3 rooms registered at 80 degrees. Its amazing what a difference it makes to with the stove that is not within the wall like a fire place. I then emailed Jack’s midwife, Abby who lives on a large, beautifully wooded lot with many, many acres of woods. She kindly allowed us to load up on fire wood and welcomed us back for more if needed. I am now confidant we can heat our house at a low cost without breaking the bank!
Next was to seal up the cracks and crevices to prevent our cozy heat from escaping. We started with the bedroom windows. Greg created a wooden frame with heavy duty plastic staple gunned to the frame to create a barrier to place in the window. We lined it with foam and shimmied it into the window. There is no way even a molecule of air will get through that contraption! The only down side is the plastic is not clear, it’s a cloudy white color. I don’t mind because we don’t spend much time in the bedrooms outside of sleeping. The sun does still come through and brightens the rooms too. We did this for Jack’s room and ours. For the windows in the bath, spare bedroom, dining room and the large bay window we purchased kits to cover the windows with plastic using double sided tape and a hair dryer. Greg’s parents were over and couldn’t even tell the plastic was there. Our curtains cover the edges nicely and the hair dryer helps remove all wrinkles. To tackle the window wells we bought plastic covers, which Greg screwed into the brick to prevent snow from falling in. We did purchase a second space heater incase we might need it. Finally, we will be foaming one leaky door which we won’t be using during the winter. I can tell our efforts have already paid off, our electric bill this month was less than last month and we have even used the bedroom baseboards a few times already.
Can you see the window covering?
Additional winterizing we will be finishing up, not related to heat is tilling our vegetable gardens to prevent weeds, cleaning the leaves out of the gutters, and adding an additional composting hole to our back yard (one just isn’t enough, need to rotate between two).
What are you doing to prepare your home for the winter cold and heating bill? I’d love to hear from you!
Winterizing Check List
- Have a game plan for your main heat source
- Seal up leaky windows and doors
- Set thermostats at 68 degrees instead of 70 – it WILL make a difference. Grab an extra layer or blanket if you need.
- Have a family meeting to discuss how you will conserve energy by keep bedroom doors closed to keep heat in, turning off lights in rooms not occupied and unplugging appliances that are not in use.