Cutting Heating Costs--how much does it really cut?

Not having storm windows, or double paned windows, this weekend, I put the plastic over the windows. As this is a rental house in which I live, I’m not looking to invest thousands of dollars in replacing the windows or adding other costly energy saving devices. However, as I was putting on the plastic, I wondered how much money it was actually saving me. I’m also willing to add some insulation to the basement ceiling, and the water pipes in the basement, but that’s more to keep the water lines from freezing than necessarily because I think it will save me tons of money in heating costs.

I’ve also been hearing about a programmable thermostat, however, I keep my house at 62 degrees during the day, regardless of the time of day, if we’re at home watching television, or at work. At night, I always turn it down to 58 degrees before I go to bed. (It’s like washing my face…I never forget to do it.) Would it really be worth my time and money to get a programmable thermostat to…what? Keep my heat at 62 during the day and 58 at night?

How much money is it really going to save me in heating costs? (BTW, I live in the northeast.)

Too many variables to do any calculation (size of house, heater, age of heater, type of heater, etc).

But, I think you will get a good Return On Investment (ROI). Over the winter, if your windows really are crappy, you will easily save 100 bucks because of the effort made to cut window drafts.

Insulation investments usually have n ROI that takes 2 or more years, which is very fast.

Bigger investments, such as more efficient heaters and water heaters could take up to five years to see an ROI.

Sometimes, it’s best to just find the worst problems with the easiest fix: Plastic over the windows…caulk around trim…expanding foam around gaps. You spend 50 bucks but save a hundred or two hundred per year, or more. Heck, and what price for comfort? Who wants a cold draft down there back when watching TV? :slight_smile:

I once read an article that stated “putting plastic over the windows” can cut your home heating bill, but the reason for it was not what you think.

The article stated that the amount of physical heat actually loss via drafty windows is relatively small, and you won’t save much energy by plugging up the holes. So why put plastic over the windows? Because the occasional cool breeze a person feels from a drafty window will make them *feel *cooler, and they will turn up the thermostat to compensate.

Your question was about the thermostat, right?

If you are already keeping the temperature as low as 62 in the daytime and 58 at night, and making the change habitually, a programmable thermostat won’t help you much (and you’re a hardy soul to find those temps comfortable). You would just program it to do what you’re already doing.

In other threads, there has been much discussion about the value of varying the temperature setting throughout the day. The bottom line is that heat loss is proportional to the difference bewteen the house temperature and the outside temperature, so you lose less heat if the thermostat is lower. (You get an initial savings at the moment you turn the thermostat down, because the furnace doesn’t run at all for a while, but you give up that savings when you turn it back up again.)

Here’s another perspective and a potential argument for the setback thermostat. Phall0106, you’re already already performing the function of a setback stat by manually setting back the temp, but think about your current scheme.

You didn’t tell us your schedule, nor whether anyone is home all the time during the day when the stat is set at 62.

If the house is unoccupied at any [predictable] timeduring the day, 62 is unnecessary. While you’re already acting like your own setback stat a setback stat can warm the house back up before you get there.

If you have:

  1. A predictable schedule. (one that you can program for)
  2. Large blocks of time when no one is home. (including fragile plants or pets)

Then I would suggest the stat. OTOH, if you have:

  1. An irregular schedule (that makes programming impractical),or,
  2. Someone home all the time

Don’t buy the stat, as you’re already doing all that the stat will do.

But here’s my schedule:
Wake @ 6:00 a.m. to 65 degrees
Leave @ 7:00 a.m. to 45 degrees (no one home, and 45 effectively turns the furnace off)
Return @ 5:30 p.m. to 68 degrees
Sleep @ 12:00 a.m. to 50 degrees. (which effectively turns it largely off)

The stat warms the house prior to 6 a.m. while I’m sleeping so I’m not miserable when I wake. It also starts warming the house before I get home, so I’m not miserable when I walk in.

But then I have a predictable (programmable) schedule and large blocks of time when no one is home.

Could I do that myself? Yes, but I would be miserable if it only started reheating when I walked in the door and ran the stat up manually.