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28
Oct

Frugal Friday – A Winter Utility Bills Challenge

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayI am looking for ways to save money this winter on heating costs. Last winter our peak bill was close to $600. That about knocked our socks off. It of course reminded us that we should have looked through a year’s worth of utility bills prior to buying this house. I don’t know for sure if we would have passed on making the purchase but we probably would have. But now we own it, and we do love it, so it is time to stem the bleeding.

I am going to make a challenge of reducing the bill and get the family involved. Every dollar we save compared to the previous year’s bill will be divided five ways (five family members). Hopefully the kids will be more serious about turning off lights and unplugging gadgets before they leave the home for school each day. For my part I have a couple ideas…

We already installed a new thermostat last year because our other one was ancient. We may actually go ahead and get a smart thermostat that will adjust when no one is home and that we can control from our phones. I am thinking about getting Honeywell’s smart thermostat. It has great reviews and it is much cheaper than the Nest.

We were ready to redo the insulation in our attic just a few weeks ago and go from batting insulation to spray foam. But then my husband realized that the batting was not going to budge without HUGE amounts of work so we are now thinking about having more insulation blown in instead. And if we have money leftover from not doing the spray foam we might add insulation to our garage doors.

We bought some oil filled radiators to heat specific areas such as upstairs bedrooms rather than turning up the furnace. I also saved money on them by using the Benefit app to buy gift certificates and get an automatic rebate and then using Giving Assistant to make the purchase which resulted in another rebate. Double dipping! Anyway, we are impressed so far with their ability to heat a room pretty quickly and then sustain that heat even after they are turned off. It was some obscure frugality newsletter from 20ish years ago that mentioned them and inspired to me to try.

I plan to buy some nice down comforters and duvet covers for each family member. It is a side goal to make my bed as luxurious and comfortable as that of a posh hotel. Why not ooh and ahh when you get in bed every night instead of doing so only when you go on a nice vacation??

I will be adding more thermal curtains to some bare windows. We have four windows that are still bare or have minimal (ie too thin) curtains. I am not sure if this will help because the house has all new windows and doors and they are super nice and high quality so there are no drafts. The fact that the previous homeowner had recently spent many thousands of dollars on new windows and doors is a clue we should have picked up on, LOL. If the new curtains don’t help with warmth at least they will look nice.

Other frugal wins for the week:

  • We are doing a small kitchen remodel with a budget of $1500. More than half that went to buying new kitchen counters. We opted to buy our counters from Menards while they were offering an 11% rebate so we will be getting almost $90 of that money right back. You have to use the rebate money at Menards but that means I will be be able to get all new drawer pulls and cabinet knobs for FREE! There might be some left over for paint brushes too.

How did you do?

  • I have been working on lowering energy costs this year too. I borrowed a Kill a Watt device from the library to start tracking energy use for various appliances and devices. So glad I checked the library because I had added the device to my Amazon cart. Didn’t have to buy it after all. I saved around $200 a month last summer keeping the thermostat at 81. It wasn’t bad at all. My plan this winter is to set it to 68 and if kids complain about it, ask them to: put on a hoodie and socks, drop and do 20. LOL