Julia from Color Me Green looks at the costs of heating an apartment.
Per New York City law, landlords are usually required to pay for heat and hot water utilities. However, my current apartment is in a new building where each unit has its own furnace and hot water heater. So this is the first time in my adult life that I've been able to control (and pay for) my heat.
The apartment comes with a programmable thermostat, which is great for energy efficiency and personal comfort. It's exciting to never have to wake up to freezing morning temperatures or be boiling hot at night. Now, I always thought that a programmable thermostat meant that the heat would magically change to the desired temperature at the time you wanted it to. However, I've learned that the time it takes to heat or cool to a desired temperature fluctuates greatly based on how cold it is outside. For example, when the weather was under 20 degrees F, it literally took eight hours for the temperature to rise from 60 to 70 degrees. When the weather is twenty degrees warmer, it only takes an hour or two.
In past winters, Crunchy Chicken has encouraged people to join a Freeze Yer Buns Challenge to lower your thermostat as much as you're comfortable. I always wondered, given the opportunity to control my heat, if I would keep my home cold. It turns out not. Because our heat is not that expensive, my selfish desire to be warm wins out over my recognition that it's an indulgent consumption of more resources that I need.
We keep the thermostat at 69-70 degrees when we're home, and turn it down to 60 overnight and weekdays when we're at the office. This adds about $70 a month to our bill, and while I don't love it, that extra amount for three months a year is not going to break our bank. We are paying for natural gas to heat about 700 square feet in an apartment building, which comes with the built-in insulation of being surrounded by other heated apartments, so the temperature would never drop much below 60 or 55 anyway. How does this compare to your heating bill - whether you're in a standalone house or an apartment? And what temperature do you keep your thermostat at?
We did try installing plastic sheets over our windows to insulate them. However, it only reduced our heating bill by about $15. We didn't exactly do a great job installing them, since we noticed some spots where the seal came away, but I was expecting more of an impact than that. Have any of you tried window insulating techniques?