Monday, October 27, 2008

Speaking of Electric Bills - Now I Need to Tackle the Gas Bill

This weekend I went out and picked up some things to help save on electricity and gas bills. I had some of the plastic sheeting that you put on windows to cut down on leaks from last year, but was out of the tape that holds it on. So, I picked up some tape and some weather stripping for a few of my windows. I also grabbed some caulk since I noticed that some of the old caulk is crumbling. Many of the windows in my home have been replaced, but there are still a few of the originals (from 1847) floating around. The majority of them are on the front of the house, so I have decided to completely close that room off. It's sort of the formal living room, so I don't use it all that much any way. (Though it is the only room with a couch, so there won't be a lot of couch potato-ing this winter!) I closed the register in that room already and I have one of those door cozy thingies tucked up against the door so the cold air doesn't leach into the rest of the house.

I also picked up one of the hot water blankets that everyone blogs about. The only interesting thing was as I was muscling it into my cart a guy walking buy said - "Good luck getting that on. They are a pain. Oh, and use really good duct tape or it will just come off again." Good advice, I suppose but not much encouragement!

Anyway, so here I am making all these changes and trying to conserve energy... and then I get an email from my tenant, wanting me to crank up the heat!

Grrr.... she told me that she has never lived downtown before, only in complexes. Well, that is readily apparent! Most of us folks used to living in converted Victorian houses know that erratic heat is part of the package. It is kind of part of the charm, if you will. (If you'll remember, she made sure and mention that she wanted colder a/c in the summer too - the day after I adjusted the thermostat to provide a few degrees less a/c.) This is a bit of a tricky thing for me, since my ex promised her that the apartment would be "comfortable," something which is obviously different according to everyone's taste. I feel he set a contract of sorts with her, and I need to honor it. The problem is the definition of "comfortable." I would prefer it to be a little cooler in the winter and hotter in the summer, but then again, I am the one paying the bills! The one good side to all this is that I can write off a portion of my utility bills on my taxes.

Fortunately, I already have a programmable thermostat so I can set it to only be on when people are most likely to be home, plus I can drop the heat at night. I can also continue to make changes to my portion of the house to keep heat bills down. The question is, what do I do about hers?

Well, I noticed this morning that she still has her window a/c unit in. (She uses it in the bedroom to supliment the a/c I provide.) I am going to tell her that I will not increase the heat until she removes that unit. If her apartment feels cold it may just be because cold air is coming through there! Also, she requested that it be 70 degrees. There is no way I am doing that. She is on the second floor, once she removes the window unit the residual heat should keep that apartment pleanty warm.

I am also going to keep this in mind for the next tenant. I think I will install some electric baseboard heaters in that unit for supplemental heat for the next person. They pay for their own electricity, so if they want to walk around in their tank top, they can pay for it.

Hmm... does that make me coldhearted?

Photo by: zonepress.


Catie said...

Of course you're not cold-hearted. Erratic heat is a fact of life in these big old drafty homes! I can be toasty warm at the 'on' point of my heat cycle and chilly 5 minutes later. Short of spending money I don't have on all new windows and great insulation, that's just something I deal with.

Money aside, you're talking about her comfort level vs. yours, so a compromise is going to have to happen. Those baseboard heaters are only about $60 for a room-sized one.... I think that's a great compromise! She wouldn't have to use it much since you're providing most of her heat needs.

Dawn said...

Thanks Catie! I guess I am going to have to see how much this becomes an issue. If I make a few adjustments (and she takes that a/c out) and we are all groovy, then I will wait on the baseboard heaters for the next tenant. However, if this continues to be a problem, I will fork out the cash and install a couple in her apartment yet this winter.

Lise said...

I always feel a mite bad when people come over to my house this time of year, before we've turned the heat on. My husband and I can tolerate quite cool temperatures, and do so specifically to save energy and money, but I know not everyone is so frugality-conscious.

I will second the suggestion for baseboard heaters... I am thinking of installing one in my unheated basement (where my sewing room is) so that I can do more comfortable work there in the winter.

Dawn said...

Lise - I was just talking to my mom about this today. She agreed on the idea. I think next time I am in a home improvement store (which is at least once a week) I will check them out! Thanks for your vote!!