Conventional alternative energy systems > energy and fuel saver

how I reduced my heating bill by 60%

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well as the heating period starts i feel its good to share some simple and less simple strategies to save on heating :) i live in a very old building in Europe.I rent the place for a good price(400E/month) but the heating costs were quite high(total of 3000Euro per year  :o ).It happens that owner wants to tear the building apart and build a new one next year,so i got a green light to do what ever i wanted on my own expense.

My heating system is quite unusual by itself,still some idea's may become usefull for u guys.Heater is a natural gas burner placed in an uninsulated garage.Pipes were uninsulated too!In house i have 3 new radiators and 4 old ones.Total house is 140m2 floor.Some of the windows r double but most r single glass.

Topic is extensive so i will divide it in parts.Today i will speak about the building itself.Next posts will address heating system improvements and habitants behaviour strategies.

My first steps were to examine the state of the building and how can i cheaply improve it.

1)As in any old house there were a lot of holes in the least unexpected places.Lots of holes were after the repairs or extensions made to the building.Imagine that every time a cable or a pipe was crossing the wall a hole around it was present! finding of all of the holes took me some time but a fix was fast,easy and cheap.I used some plaster to close the holes.Remember that both outside and inside should be examined for holes.Every hole is a potential escape path for a warm air of ur house and a potential entrance of cold air from outside,especially at windy day >:( total cost was about 15E

2)Next step was examination of doors and windows.Many simple improvements can be made here cheaply and fast.2 windows were placed so that a hole was formed between the window frame and the wall.I used acrylic kit/or silicon in tubes for smaller gaps and plaster for bigger holes.Simple method of testing is just to come close with ur eye to the examined place.Even small movement of the air is easily felt by ur eye.
In a lot of cases windows r not closing completely(the same for doors).It means that a small gap of 1mm or more is present.This small gap can be easily eliminated by rubber or foam stripes sold in do-it-urself shops for exactly this purpose.The underdoor gap was sealed by an elastic stripe.Is it worth it? yes it is! a gap of 1mm and 1m long makes a total area of 10 square cm!A typical door has a circumvent of around 5 meters... total cost of investment 40E

3)after step 1 and 2 i got a positive feedback from my family who said that they feel almost no drafts anymore :) but almost is still not good enough for me ;) so i went a bit deeper and found an obvious hole.It was the air ventilation system in the kitchen.When the fan above cooking plate is working ,it draws the bad smells and water vapour from the kitchen to the outside.So far so good.But when it is not used ,the pipe to the outside of 110 mm diameter is an excellent hole  >:( fortunately a solution was also cheap and inexpensive.All i did is placing of a one way valve at the outside of the house on the pipe.When fan is on it lifts the valve and lets the gases to go outside,when not in use the valve closes and blocks cold air that would otherwise enter the kitchen. Plastic one way valve - 6E.

4)now that the drafts were under control,i started to look around for radiation loses.Windows r the best candidate to radiate the heat out.1m2 of a window can radiate as much as 30 to 140 W of energy when the difference of the temperatures inside and outside the house r 10deg K.It pays back to close the curtains in the evenings and invest in thick curtains.Here a small battle took place :D.Girls at my place had a long debate about the colours and features of new curtains :D happily it was not my problem ;) it was kind of pricy solution,because of expensive materials used 200E

One nice extra price i won, is a more silent home :) by sealing the gaps in windows,doors and placing of curtains the street noise reduced quite noticeably!

Stay tuned!

@ Creativity:

Great topic!  I live in a small apartment. (about 800 sq. ft.)  When I first moved in about 7 years ago, I asked the electric company for a printout on the usage for the year prior to my moving in.  The electric bills averaged $80/month. (USD)  I am limited in the things I am allowed to do but, by turning down my hot water heater to 110 degrees, replacing all of my lights with cfl's, as well as a few other tricks, my electric bill for last month was $32.00.  This was after a $20/1000kwh increase by the electric company.  We have had several of those since I have moved in here.

Last night, it was 22 degrees outside and 70 degrees inside.  All of the heat was supplied by my 4 kerosene lamps.  I have 2 windows, both of which are now covered with thick blankets. (for the winter)  I have tried the heat-shrink plastic film you can put over them but, the blankets, when you hold your hand against them, are totally warm, no drafts at all.

My next door neighbor's electric bill was $90.00 last month. (when mine was $32.00)  My goal is to get the bills low enough that the power company comes out and replaces my meter thinking it to be defective.  I have already placed a small mark on it so I will know when that happens.

When I paid my bill in person the month before, (nice weather, no heat or air needed) it was only like $25.00 and the clerk said there must be something wrong, it is too low.  This is like a hobby for me and I like the challenge.

I am glad to see this topic being discussed.  By the way, my ex-wife's electric bill last month was $240.00.  This is fun.


u r right !it is a hobby all the way  ;D not a day goes by that i don't think about improvement and it's getting harder and harder to achieve,so creative thinking and good observation is a main tool.
Nice job done at ur place!i hope more people will join the topic and share experiences.In the end we all can benefit from it.

My electric bill was 90€/month last year,this year it's around 80€/m.I must say i had already all cfl's installed when i got here.We use 3 PC's so it takes a lot of electrons to support my family  ;)Cooking plate is all electric and water heater is electric too.With 3-4 people in the house it is a lot of taking showers,clothes washing and cooking going on .

About the lights i just put an aluminium foil behind the bulbs to reflect more of the light in the direction of the room.

I reduced temperature on the water heater as far as i could without having a risk of running out of hot water(it's around 60degC(140F)).I couldn't go as far as u went with urs.Its a 100 liter unit,so for 4 people showering at 43degC(110F) would be impossible.
But what i could do is to observe the behaviour of house members :) girls were taking long showers in the afternoon,me in the evening.Washing machine was used without any pattern(1-2 per week at variable hours).Cooking takes place mostly around 18-19.30 .

We have here double-tarive electricity meters.From 6 in the morning until 9 in the evening it counts daily usage.Evening and night is on a different meter.In Europe u can choose to have like this and the point is to pay less.Electric company charges 50% discounted price off peak hours(evening&night tarive) .

I explained to my family why to use washing machine after 9 in the evening and take showers also in the evening.This behavioural change will hopefully save us some money :) idea is to make water heater to start around 9 in the evening or later so it will be 50% cheaper to warm the water :)the same logic for washing machine.Unfortunately i can't figure out nothing about PC's :| we just switch them out at night when we sleep,otherwise almost all day long ON.

that's kind of all i remember doing.I wait until march for full year usage comparison.I calculated to have like 40-70€ savings per year from it.

I have 250m2 for living + 80m2 workshop  -  several hundred years old buildings - my own properties - I have rebuilt/renoved (near)all during past 10 years. I have no idea how much I have spent total, I dont want to think about much ... dont want to have bad sleeping  :-\ ...  but I think it exceeds EUR 1/2 M  surely  :o   It is cheaper to build a new house than renove/rebuild an old.
Heating based on electricity - air/air and air/water heat pump converters total 4.  One grount/water iverter I will add soon. Its hard to tell you how exact Im spending for electricity (heat) because my workshop takes a lot of ... and I do use much at night time when energy is bit cheaper , I have one working energy storage system and one on progress ...). My place locates 250 m from gas-line ... but unfortunately they asking EUR 20 K for joining with and for lining ...  and cost for gas raises up near every month ... and I dont want to saw away many-many nice and old trees for trench line.
Monthly energy spending in winter time is appr. 500 kw/h and 250 kw/h summer time. Up till today this is not beyond my ability to pay all bills up till cost of will not twiced :-\
I can do it - the layout of energy Im spending but ... I do it later when all my energy saving ideas (included OU styles) will be bringed to fruition.
Thanks to God I dont have to pay any rents ::)

with due respect,

yeah - was mistake  ;)
Monthly spending is ca 5000 kw/h in winter time and 2500 kw/h summer time,
Last running year I paid maximum EUR 500 per month in winter time and EUR 250 per month in summer time.
My energy saving systems working well ;D


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