This isn’t necessarily a post about Syracuse or Central New York, but it is something that concerns us, as well as other cold areas. I’ve just finished conducting an experiment that has confirmed what I should have already known, but didn’t. Hopefully, this will help you save money as well.

You see that heater to the right? That and its twin were the experiment my wife and I decided to try. The explanation is that we got a National Grid bill at the beginning of January that was a little higher than I was expecting; okay, it was a lot higher than I was expecting. We have a house that’s more than 50 years old and parts of it aren’t insulated properly. I hate to “out” companies per se but we had ZeroDraft come into the house some years ago to insulate, which they did, but they did what their name says and took care of the drafts. We have cold coming from other areas, and that wasn’t their purview.

Anyway, my wife and I decided to try an experiment. We decided to turn the temperature down about 4 degrees from where we’d been keeping it and around 9 at night turn on electric heaters to only heat up the spaces we were in. Those heaters would run until we each were ready for our “business” day, which means for her around 5:15 in the morning (she gets ready in a different area of the house) and for me 9AM. I work from home, but felt that I could handle the temperature during the day by wearing more clothes.

Except for a couple of days when the temperature outside fell to around 0°, we stuck with this plan for the entire month of January. I expected that our next bill would be lower because we weren’t heating the entire house, and we didn’t change any of our other behaviors.

Stunned and shocked would be my response when I opened my bill yesterday. It was the highest bill we’ve ever had in this house, over $500. When I looked at use of resources we showed a decrease in gas but a major jump in electric. The delivery services for electricity was around 150% higher than for gas, and almost 100% higher for the supply services.

The problem with evaluating things like this is that the language for each is different. Electricity comes at you in kWh (kilowatt hours) while gas comes to you in therms. I never studied this kind of measurement in school, but when you look at it from a numbers perspective it seems like 0.1152 per kWh would be lower than .886 per therm; no sir, it doesn’t work quite that way.

Another problem of course is the power company themselves. I had called them to ask the difference in electricity and gas and which one was more cost efficient and the response I got was “it depends on how you use it”, without any further explanation. I’m not sure anyone would know what that means, but for my experiment it seems to mean that gas works better for me than electricity based on how I use it.

Definitely disappointing but a major lesson learned. How many of you already knew this, and what measures do you take to try to keep your heating bills lower?

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