December 13, 2021 Home
This year December 21 is the day with the shortest daylight hours. This is called the winter solstice and is the official first day of winter. So, even though the daylight hours grow longer every day from now on, the coldest temperatures of the year are not yet here. January and February bring the coldest temperatures of the year to Hancock County.
Almost everyone will notice that their home utility bills during winter months are higher than during the rest of the year. Heating your entire home is a major expense, whether with electricity, propane, or heating oil. What can we do to reduce the amount we spend to keep warm? One basic improvement that can be made to homes of all types, sizes, and age is adding insulation to help keep cold air outside.
Following is a list of some ways you can save dollars and make your home more comfortable in winter.
- add or increase insulation in ceilings, walls, under the floor, or in basements
- keep doors closed to rooms that are not in regular use
- use a room heater if you need to be in a room that is only used once in a while
- lower temperature in house when you leave during the day or at night
- add layers of plastic to windows, especially on cold side of home
- add insulation to the pipes coming out of your hot water heater
- install curtains over windows, close curtains at night
One method we have used over the years is placing rectangular hay bales around the base of the walls of our home. You can place plastic sheeting against the wall as a vapor barrier before setting the bales down. This provides good insulation and protection from the wind.
There are many type of room heaters available – electric, propane, kerosene. Before you buy, pay attention to the amount of heat that the heater produces and how large an area it is rated to cover. The electric room heater is the safest and easiest to maintain. No need for ventilation. Plug it in the wall and it works.
Before you buy a propane heater, consider that it must be vented to the outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Although there are ventless gas heaters, these should be used in rooms with good internal ventilation, which will cool the room as the heater does its job. Also, propane heaters require installation and connections back to an outdoor tank. Another consideration is cost – check how much a gallon of propane costs these days. The cost is always higher in the winter.
Kerosene heaters are potentially dangerous because they emit carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. These substances create a health risk, especially for people with asthma, pregnant women, people with heart disease, elderly persons, and young children. There is a high risk of skin burns and combustion of other materials. Pets and children must be kept at a safe distance from the heaters. It is also a hassle to buy kerosene, transport it home, and refill the heater tank.
Think about ways you can improve the warmth and comfort of your home. If buying a room heater, consider the above and go electric. If considering whole house heating, contact Powell Valley Electric Cooperative to see what options are available.
Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative. For more information, go to pve.coop.