Going in search of lower heating bills

Well, here we are again, on the verge of turning our clocks back and preparing for the return of winter weather.

Well, here we are again, on the verge of turning our clocks back and preparing for the return of winter weather.

I know it wouldn’t seem so bad if we had enjoyed any kind of a reasonable summer. The north coast has suffered one of the wettest, most miserable summer-fall seasons in my personal memory, which goes back only to around 1980.

Others may have worse seasons to compare it to.

There’s no doubt we got spoiled (sucked in?) over the past two summers with long enjoyable hours of sunshine, great deck-barbecue time, good growing conditions and even though it took an extraordinary long time this spring to see the snow melt off our lawns and sidewalks, I still felt that we’d have a few more days of nice summer weather ahead than we eventually received.

Now we are being warned by meteorologists that this cool, wet summer is about to be followed by one of the colder snowier winters in a long time.

My old favourite, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a steady diet of precipitation for northern BC And we know what that means in this area – yes, lots more snow.

As rain drummed against the windows over the past weeks it got me to spend some of my time researching how to make my home a little warmer, checking out heating systems and looking for some tips on reducing the cruel gas and electric bills that seem to be heading for the stratosphere – with some help from the government, I might add.

Fortunately there’s a lot of information out there on the internet – some of its contradictory, some of it confusing and quite a lot of it that makes good common sense,  but requires a lot of effort, some planning and spending some money.

I have to say, when I went looking, I was not out there to save the planet – just to save myself a little extra on my pension, which for some reason appears to have become targeted as stimulus money for the oil and energy industries and even the food industry.

Well you got the message, same as I did this summer:  the cost of living is rising at a rapid rate.

So this past little while, in addition to moving the old snow blower into position, putting in new fuel and starting it up, just to make sure it would, I’ve been checking out some of the little ways and means of cutting down on heat loss, checking out insulation, doors and window trim  while getting ready to  accept the inevitable.

While you don’t need a degree to carry out even a rough kind of home energy audit, I have to say the over 300 suggestions I found on one such DIY audit list was a bit more overwhelming that I expected.

A lot of it did make some real sense and included some things I would normally do – as well as a lot more detailed things I just don’t think I could muster up the patience or energy for – get it?

Since I was looking for savings the easy way, I didn’t rush out and spend money on one of the many energy cost monitors on the market to measure energy use.

I’m pretty sure the expense of an infrared energy heat gun to allow me to take instant readings of the temperature on walls or windows, or to quickly find the places where the inside of an exterior wall is coldest in winter (needs more insulation)  or where the outside of an exterior wall is warmest (a sign of heat escaping).

Someone more earnest about the chore could use this information to target the draftiest windows or the areas with poor wall insulation for an insulation retrofit.

But if it comes to tearing down walls, I’ll wait a little longer.

But there were some simpler things like caulking, sealing, weatherstripping and finding and eliminating annoying and costly draft sources.

The provincial government and the federal government will help as well, if you don’t mind jumping through a few time-consuming and costly hoops, but if you’re upgrading to a new high efficiency furnace, or a complete HVAC system, or planning on doing some major insulating of roofs, attics, walls, basements etc. there’s some help to be had with the costs.

Takes them a long time, though, while your windows of opportunity are pretty short.

So, I suggest, if you can’t get to sleep at night, get the 140-page tome from Natural Resources Canada (an ecoEnergy, ecoACTION initative!) called, “Keeping the Heat in,” to read in bed. It’s a great sleep aid.

However, read during the day, it contains a great deal of useful information on everything from condensation and moisture problems to cold attics and basements.

I make light of it, but really, it’s good and doesn’t push you to do any more than you want.

But when you read it you’ll likely want to do more than you originally thought you needed.

I guarantee it!

Sorry!

 

ahewitson@telus.net

 

 

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