Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Friday, November 20, 2009

Energy Savings this Winter

Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been! I had a ton of baking to do for the church bazaar and then I am involved in a Christmas swap with some friends and so had 15 gifts to make. I won't say what I made because there are quite a number of those ladies that read this blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise for them. So then once all of that was finished I got to the business of getting the house ready for the winter. Our home is old and drafty, the windows are ancient and do nothing but slow down the cold air rather than keeping it out. I also had a few other projects in mind to take advantage of passive solar energy for heating. So my oldest daughter and I are building a passive solar like this one only modified a little bit with aluminum cans to capture more heat. I will show pics of it when we are finished and give details on how we built it. Right now we are a t a standstill because I ran out of adhesive for the cans. We will finish it this weekend and hopefully this will provide heat to her bedroom during the day and at night she has an electric blanket. We do primarily heat our home with the two fireplaces. One fireplace has a wonderful insert with a blower. The flu on that one is adjustable to control the amount of heat that goes up the chimney or stays in the room. During the winter this fireplace goes almost non-stop because we spend most of our time in the den and attached playroom and it is these two rooms that it heats best. The other fireplace is in the living room and we would love to get an insert to put in there, however because of the age of the fireplace and its dimensions we will have to have one custom built which is simply too costly right now. So it doesn't heat as well as I would like but still puts out quite a bit of heat and we have a portable blower on it that helps when it is really cold. Something new we have done is turn the front porch (south facing) into a greenhouse. I will show pics later today, hopefully of how we have done that. It is actually working quite well and by building a solar can heater that will stand alone will be really warm. Yesterday the outside temperature was around 63, but the inside temp on the porch was 71. By opening the front door it made the room temp of the living room quite comfortable. So this might help cut down on some of the propane bill in our really, really cold months of January and February when we have the propane heaters and the fireplaces going. Now on to those really leaky single pane glass windows. Last year we used shower curtains taped over the windows and this did a really good job of slowing down even more cold air and keeping the house warmer. So this year we stepped that up a notch. I have placed bubble wrap on the window panes themselves to add insulation value to the glass, then I am placing the plastic curtains taped again (with painter's tape) from frame to frame. So the glass is insulated and the curtain will stop the cold air from flowing into the house. Hopefully all of this effort will mean a lower propane bill and a more comfortable temp in the house. We do have electric heat in the den and playroom and propane in the other half of the house. We had a fuel oil furnace, but it became harder to get the fuel oil and more expensive to run. The furnace also was always breaking down and there is only one person in our area that knows how to work on it. So since it was a 40 year old furnace we decided it needed to be retired. We put in the propane heaters, but still don't like to use them much except on really really cold days and nights. The electric central heat in the newer portion of the house uses a lot of energy, just like in the summer with the air condition going, so we don't like to use it. No, I am not really doing all of this to be green although that is an after effect. I do this because I am cheap and don't like giving the utility companies anymore money than absolutely necessary. We plan to enclosed the side porch with polyurethane also which will block some of the wind from that side of the house and create an insulating air pocket also. Even though that side doesn't get much sun, blocking the wind will be worth it. I hope some of these ideas can help all of you save a little money this winter also. God bless.


The Girl in the Pink Dress said...

Oh... I love fireplaces and wood stoves. I've always wanted one- maybe on our final homestead!
I'm working on some solar energy too- hoping to make a successful solar oven. It would be such a blessing in the summer when the house is far too hot to cook with the oven! And then there is the extra plus of saving money on hydro. Hope this works out for you!
The Girl in the Pink Dress

Kat said...

Our solar oven was pretty good, we still have it and use it some. It didn't work quite as well as I had hoped it would. We had on our list to build an adobe oven this past summer, but alas, time got away from us and it simply did not get done. So that will go to the top of the list this spring. I would like to have an outside kitchen at some point so that I don't heat the house up at all. I will settle for starting with the adobe oven and then we will see from there. I love my fireplaces and would love to have one more in the house. We have talked about having one built in the bedroom/library but may wind up putting a wood stove back there instead. Another project for another day! God bless.