Trim the Fat Tuesday: The Thermostat Adjustment, Part 2

Now that it's cold and the furnace is on for the season, we've decided to take another look at the thermostat settings. It turns out that we can comfortably

Turn down the thermostat by another 2 degrees while we're at home.

As you may recall, turning down the thermostat to save some money on our heating bills was our very first Trim the Fat Tuesday exercise. Since then, though, we've insulated the house, and that has made an enormous difference in our comfort level. This house used to be a drafty wreck, but now it's consistently comfortable. No longer are the upstairs bedrooms a full 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, and our November heating oil top-off was under 25 gallons, which is far less than what it's been in the past. All this plus an oil price of just $2.89 per gallon (for now, anyway) bodes well for this winter.

I should note that the insulation did right by us in the summer, too. We never even bothered to put in the window A/C, so that's a total of zero days of cooling. Thanks to the insulation, we were able to control the temperatures adequately by closing the curtains against the afternoon sun and opening the windows for cool air at night. Our hundred-year-old house was well-designed for this type of temperature control, and we're more than happy to take advantage of this old-fashioned benefit.

Anyway, with our house wrapped in its nice new blanket of insulation, we've noticed that it's actually a bit too warm when the furnace is running, and we can easily knock back the thermostat by another two degrees. As I discussed the last time we did this, conventional wisdom holds that you'll save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree you turn down the thermostat. In this case, then, we should save about 6%.

I'm going to use the projected heating bill that Mass Save provided us when they did our energy audit last spring, since we're now using way less energy to heat the house. That amount is just $103 per month on our oil bill. I can't just knock 6% off the top, though. Since we already have the temperatures about as low as they can go while we're not at home and while we're sleeping, this thermostat adjustment affects only the times of day when the heat is running full-tilt. Adding up only those hours from our thermostat settings comes to just 74 hours per week. Since there are 168 total hours in a week, we'll only be saving that additional 6% for 44% of the time. 44% of 103 is $45.32, and 6% of just that amount is about $2.72 for our total monthly savings.

That's not a lot, but it's also not a hardship to keep the heat lower now that the house is so much less drafty than it used to be. And, as always, I'll round up.

Savings per month: $3


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