November 26, 2012

Creative Ways To Save On Your Gas Bill This Winter

Most of us in Chicago have turned on our heat and awaited our next Peoples Gas bill with an impending sense of dread.  Often, increasing effciency means spending more money before it can be saved.  While installing new windows or insulating the attic will produce noticeable savings, most renters aren't willing to invest in high-cost solutions that pay off over a long period of time.  So today we present a few low-cost and low-effort solutions.

1.  Reverse the ceiling fan.  By fipping the switch on the ceiling fan and keeping it on low, warm air that has risen will be pushed down and recirculated.

2.  Turn the thermostat way down when the apartment is not being occupied for extended periods, such as vacations.  Turn it down a few degrees when you're at the office for the day or while you're asleep at night.  Compensate by using an electric blanket and mattress pad.  A programmable thermostat is an ideal tool for this type of temperature regulation.  If your apartment is not already equipped with one, you can purchase one on Amazon for about $20 to $30.  This purchase will pay for itself in a single winter, but will require installation.

3.  Consider decreasing the temperature throughout the apartment and using a portable space heater to warm up the room you're using.  This is especially useful in the bathroom, but be sure to turn on the space heater at least five minutes before showering.

4.  Close the vents in any rooms that aren't regularly being used and shut the door.

5.  Fix the drafts around any windows by applying weather-stripping on the sides and the bottom of the window in order to create a seal.  A roll of weather stripping only costs about $5.  Window insulation kits, which contain double-sided tape and plastic film to cover the interior of the window, present another option, albeit a more conspicuous and less attractive option than weather-stripping.

6.  At night, draw the curtains and shades to insulate the room from drafts.  On sunny days, open the curtains to take advantage of the heat produced by the sun's radiation.

7.  Remove or cover any window air conditioning units.  Heat easily escapes through the vent of a window unit.  Covers can be purchased at hardware stores for about $5.

8.  When baking cookies or making a pot roast, leave the oven door open a few inches to let the heat warm the apartment.

While these solutions will probably not cut your gas bill in half, they will certainly save you a few dollars.  Just don't blow the savings on something ridiculous.  Remember, a fool and his money are soon parted.

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