Mar 17 2008

How sealing our apartment saved our electric bill this winter

Spring is almost here, and I can tell you with total certainty that it was worth sealing the windows and electrical outlets in my apartment last October. If you recall, I installed insulation around the electrical outlets, I put foam tape around all of our windows, covered them with painter’s tape so they wouldn’t come loose, and covered the whole window shebang with plastic. During particularly frigid days, I put rolled beach towels along the window sill to keep out that last bit of cold.

It cost about $25 in materials and took about an hour total, or so. (This post shows that I spent about $15. Well, I had to buy more foam tape, so now the cost was about $25.) Plus, it was really easy.

Our heat didn’t kick on until around Thanksgiving.

Even though we’ve kept the daytime temperature at around 65 degrees and night time temp at 62, it hasn’t felt cold. It isn’t drafty in here. The heater isn’t constantly running. We survived! True, we wore pajama pants and long sleeves to bed on some nights, and usually wore a sweatshirt or sweater around the house. We have a huge pile of blankets for snuggling with while reading or watching TV.

There were occasions when I turned the heat up a few degrees to 67 or so. And, I’ve been known to take hot showers to warm up.

But, all of these sacrifices were worth it, and it really didn’t feel like a sacrifice 97 percent of the time.

Check out our last few electric bills:

Date                  KWH used       Cost

8/21/07 – 9/21  672                 $89.41
9/21 – 10/22     648                 $86.46
10/22 – 11/21   516                 $67.09
11/21 – 12/21   588                 $72.86
12/21 – 1/23     732                 $83.43
1/23 –  2/21      792                 $89.22

You’ll notice that during the last billing cycle, we used 792 kwh and spent about $89, and our first billing cycle we spent the same amount, yet used 120 kwh less. How can this be?

Our apartment is all-electric. Our electric company has a discounted rate from October-April. So, for every kwh over 500 that we use, we get a discounted rate on that.

I used the electric company’s online calculator to predict our electric bill. If our windows were not tightly sealed, we could expect to spend more than $200 on electricity in February. We came nowhere near that! In fact, we didn’t even hit $100 on a bill.

This was our first winter in Pittsburgh, and it wasn’t all that bad. Outside temperatures seemed to be in the 30s most of the time, with just a few spurts of days in the teens or colder. We didn’t get much snow, just a few inches here and there.

The windows are still sealed, and I’m hoping that I can open my windows within a few weeks.

You can be certain that next fall, we’ll be sealing the apartment as tight as we can, and continue to have the heat set in the mid-60s.

As for this summer, we’ll have the windows open most of the time, and only run the AC when absolutely necessary (95-degree nights, anyone?).

How was your heat bill this winter? Did you winterize your home? Was it worth it?

7 Responses to “How sealing our apartment saved our electric bill this winter”

  1. We put plastic over most of our windows, put a rug against the bottom of our back door, and turned the heat down at night and when we left the apartment. I’d say it saved us some money, but I’m not sure how much since I don’t have anything to compare it with. We have gas heat, so it was about $65-$70 a month. We definitely could have been stingier with the heat as we usually kept it around 65/70 when we were home during the day and 60/65 at night or when we were away. Lowering the heat bill is one of my priorities for next winter!

  2. After living in Ireland, I’ve gotten used to wearing track pants and/or PJs and sweaters around the house. Before that though, I would hate it and always try and turn the heat up in our house. It’s crazy what a difference it makes!

  3. Hi Kacie! Great job on the electric bill – here’s what we did to save $$. We have gas heat and after receiving a $115 bill for February, we decided to shut off the rooms in our house that were used the least. This included our spare bedroom/workout room and the extra bathroom. We shut off the vents, kept the doors closed and rolled up towels to place at the bottom of the doors. After doing this, our bill was $20 dollars less! I was shocked at how much less it was just from shutting off these two rooms. Plus, the average temperature was exactly the same during both billing cycles, so I know it was definitely our preventative measures. I guess it is worth literally freezing our buns off when we use the spare bathroom! ha!

  4. We put weather stripping around the back door of our apartment, the windows and front door are new and REALLY good with the insulation. We live in the south, so it doesn’t get as cold here, but our cinder block apartment doesn’t offer any insulation, they didn’t even put insulation under the floors, so a lot of our heat escapes.
    I guess we’re a little backwards, we like to have it warm at night, so that when we wake up we’re willing to get out of bed, so we turn the heat down during the day and up during the night. Never more than 2 degrees though. Our thermostat is messed up, so is set 74 most of the time- which according to our indoor/outdoor thermometer keeps it at 68-70 in the living room, about 68 in our room, and around 70-72 in our daughters room.
    The biggest thing we do to keep our electric bill down is keep the thermostat set at one temperature and leave it. The more you change it, the higher your bill will be. our average electric bill was $85. I’m loving the temperature now though, it’s almost warm enough to open up the windows all the time and not worry about Heat or AC.

  5. Please, if you seal you house up very tight. Send a little money on Carbon Monoxide Detectors for each room. Saving money is good only if you are safe.

  6. That’s a great reminder, M, whether you’re sealing your home or not (I doubt leaky windows would be enough to let out dangerous carbon monoxide).

  7. We don’t winterize…our house is newer and sealed fairly well. One thing that we did start doing when I quit my job was go on the budget plan so that there were no surprises when we opened the monthly bill. I love having our payments spread over the year evenly…we do the same for natural gas and it is a beautiful thing!

    We also have a programmable thermostat which is great!


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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