Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cutting the heat and cutting costs

Now, you all know what's coming around the bend, don't you? The time for freezing one's buns is almost nigh and I hope you all are planning on joining me for the third year of the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. I'll be posting more about that next month, but in the meantime I just had to share with you some exciting news!

For those of you following along at home, last week I was ruminating over the state of our oil heat supply and whether or not to switch to B99 BioHeat (99% biodiesel) now that it's available or to switch back to standard/conventional heating oil. You can go read the post and comments to see what the conundrum is all about, but the short story is that there are more petroleum inputs to creating biodiesel than just using the petroleum directly.

Of course, at issue is the source of the biodiesel. So, I called out heating company to talk prices and sources and such and found out that their source of biodiesel used to be a local company that went out of business. They won't source a waste veggie oil program because of very inconsistent products and availability and so they are now getting their biodiesel from midwest grown, soy-based Cargill biodiesel. Well, that there decided it all for me.

For the record, the price differential for the different blends are as follows (the number represents the percentage of biodiesel in the blend). The difference is about 50 cents a gallon between 99% biofuel and standard heating oil. The cost differential isn't as dramatic as I thought it was going to be:

B99 $3.479
B50 $3.219
B25 $3.089
Standard heating oil $3.049

But, my last question is the exciting part. I asked him to tell me the amount of oil we use per year (it's rather impossible to tell from their cryptic delivery receipts). In the 2006/2007 heating season it ended up being about 500 gallons per year. This was before the first Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. And, in the 2008/2009 heating season we used about 250 gallons per year. That's a 50% reduction in heating oil difference! That's about $780 a year savings. Apparently, their average customer uses 600 gallons of oil per year. That means we used about 42% of the average.

Now, I must confess that we did offset some of this by using space heaters last season. I went back through our electrical bills to see how much more we were spending and it was about 1-2 extra kWh per day (at about $.05 per kWh), coming to something like $10 - $15 for the season for extra electricity. One more caveat is that my husband was home full-time last season so the heat was up more than normal.

Anyway, not only is the extra electricity cheap (thanks to the wind farms and hydro up here), it's nice to know that it is based on renewable resources. All in all, I'd estimate we saved around $750 last year by turning down our heat and using space heaters instead of heating the whole house with B25.

If this isn't an example and incentive to turn down your thermostat, I don't know what is!


Robj98168 said...

I plan on sitting around in a snuggies blanket (you know the ones with the arms) so i will look like a cult member all winter with my "robe " on

Sandy said...

Robj, I'm part of the snuggies cult, too. We need an official handshake.

Kelsie said...

I only hope you snuggie users have seen this video:

Aimee said...

my husband grew up in a tropical climate and still wants to experience 78 degree heat year round. But environmental concerns aside, it's impossible! We live in a drafty old barn of a house and heat with propane. We set the thermostat at 60.

Robj98168 said...

ROFLMFAO at that vid The WTF Blanket- so true Now that I have a snuggie I can answer the phone, hold a baby all the things I couldn't do with a regular blanket!

Amanda said...

I am so jealous! We pay 20 cents per kWh, plus the transmission fee :( That makes for an outrageous bill no matter what (even when I lived alone)!

Farmer's Daughter said...

We cut our oil consumption in half last year, with huge savings. I'm happy I'll have my own temp up a few degrees from the pregnancy this winter!

We're all about warm blankies (yes, even snuggies) and socks, sweaters, etc.

cindy24 said...

So excited for another year of this. I live in So Cal. so one I certainly have it easier than most. I cut my bills by more than half for the months I use my heat. My kids did not mind at all and my friends got used to me answering my door in the middle of the day with a ski hat on. Total i saved $500 from the previous year. The year prior to this challenge I had central heat put in as part of a remodel. I was shocked with how much my gas bill was. Last year the highest bill was $49 (compared to $142) while my summer bills are around $25.

Sandy said...

OK. The snuggie video was coffee snorting. (a flashlight!) I am so in for the freeze your buns off challenge. When do we start? Do we have an official date?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Jesus, you Snuggie freaks. Perhaps I should add a Snuggie giveaway to this year's challenge. Although they sure as heck don't look sustainably produced.

evilbunnytoo said...

I found that good socks were essential to a lower temperature setting (of course we live in an apartment too, so we can't do all the things homeowners do to save). I bought myself a couple of pairs of fleece socks (they were large because they were on sale) that were marketed as camping socks, and found that they made staying warm at night after the heater was turned off so much easier (we saved by turning off the heater before we went to bed). Hubby stole a pair of mine after he ran out of socks one night and tried them.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I lowered my electric and gas use by 32% by changing habits and a few minor home improvements mostly sealing air leaks. A lot of things we tried and now do, could be done by renters with good results. Unfortunately, we experienced a rate hike. While my use went down, the bill stayed the same. :(

Last year, a group had a Snuggie pub crawl for charity. Seeing a large group of Snuggie people walking down the sidewalks was very interesting!