The new winter heating oil season is underway and while we're looking forward to toasty nights by the fireplace, today we're celebrating the past. After tallying our bills for last season we found that we cut our consumption of the fuel for the fourth straight year! Our 2,100-square-foot house consumed 571 gallons, a 14 percent reduction from the winter of 2009-2010.
There's one reason for this year's savings--insulation. Well, to be completely honest, it was a warmer winter than the year before, too, so that had something to do with it. Still, we're giving the lion's share of the credit to the fluffy stuff we had blown into our attic.
It's been quite a success story. In our first winter in our 1924-built wood-frame house, we burned through 1,500 gallons of heating oil. Since then, we've replaced our old furnace, installed a programmable thermostat, sealed leaky doors, removed air-conditioners from windows, and altered, somewhat, our notion of just how warm we're supposed to feel during a New Jersey winter. You can read the entire story by following this link to an earlier post.
But this story is about our insulation. After having a home energy audit in the spring of 2009, we learned that while our attic was insulated, the amount of protection was nowhere near what it should have been. We contracted with a home-insulation company that spent a day blowing treated cellulose under attic floorboards and into hidden spaces behind walls. You can read all about it by looking at these posts:
We spent $1,200 on the insulation job. Was it worth it?
We used about 100 gallons less oil. Our average price was close to $3 a gallon last year, so we saved about $300. That means the job may pay for itself in about four years, and less if heating oil prices continue to escalate--as I think they will.
Also, we definitely felt warmer, especially in our bedroom, which is under the attic, but even on our first floor. I think less heat escaped into that wasteland of old suitcases, school papers and discarded clothing.
So what's next for this year on the energy-saving agenda? I'd like to get our basement steam pipes re-insulated. We had all the asbestos removed from the pipes in 2002 when we replaced our 80-year-old steam boiler. Ever since then the basement has been toasty warm because of the unprotected pipes, but that's heat energy we'd rather have upstairs. The man who conducted our energy audit a couple years ago said that we're wasting energy because pipes that are meant to be steam conductors are actually steam radiators.
We can buy insulation for some of the smaller pipes at our local home center, but we don't have a clue how to go about insulating some of the fatter main pipes. It'll be fun to find out, however, and we'll let you know how it goes! Have any of you readers insulated your steam pipes? Let me know!