Propane savings to date

Well, we just got our first propane fill-up of 2010. Usually by Jan. 12th, we would have had fillups totaling around 500 gallons. This year, we’ve had a total of 371 gallons – about a 25% reduction in propane use and a savings of $325 and 1625 pounds of carbon.

What we’ve done differently this year: We’ve kept the heat at 55 pretty much all the time and used wood to heat the living room evenings and weekends. We do still occasionally turn the furnace on to heat the whole house – maybe once or twice a week when it’s really cold and we’re only going to be here for two hours or something.

We also have the thermostat programmed to come on and raise the house temp one degree in the morning while we’re working out. Having the heat on makes it feel warmer, and we’ve learned that just getting the heat to kick on is sufficient to keep us warm in the mornings – it doesn’t need to come up to “normal” room temp. Keeping it to one degree also helps me not have nightmares in the early mornings, which beset me when I’m too warm while I sleep. 🙂

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9 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    January 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    This is great! Good for you. We keep ours at 61 … any colder and the dog starts shivering (sigh). I’d love to wrap him in a dog sweater, but my husband refuses to allow animals to wear clothes. Go figure. 🙂

  2. Emily Harris said,

    January 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    that was me commenting above, not sure why it showed up as anonymous, sorry!

  3. Joan Bailey said,

    January 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    We also used to keep our heat at 55, which drove other people mad but kept our bills down. And we used to heat with wood, too, which was great fun. I miss having a woodstove, especially since our apartment now would really benefit from one chugging happily away in the corner.

  4. aimee said,

    January 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    hmm, 63 is about as cold as I can hack it — but luckily the weather has been hovering around fifty for weeks now, so that means the heat is seldom on.

    • Emily said,

      January 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Well – the living space is at least 63 when we are in it (from the wood heat), so that’s not much different.

      Something else we’ve learned is that the thermometer reading doesn’t tell the whole story about how warm the house *feels.* When we bought this house, we kept the heat at 67 and often had to turn it up to 68 or 69. Since we’ve insulated and put an airtight insert in the fireplace (HUGE difference), it actually feels warmer even though the thermostat is set lower. When we do use the furnace to heat the whole house, 62 or 63 feels the same as 67 or 68 used to.

  5. TechSamaritan said,

    January 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    We keep the heat around 60, and I know to get up and stoke the stove when it kicks on. Someone is home all the time, so our wood stove is working out well. We filled up our propane in August, and we are still above 60%! That was mostly because we were out of town for several days, and the difference in tank volume from colder temperatures. I am hoping we can drop out propane fills to once every 2 years.

    Here’s to mild winters! Those negative temps with wind really suck (the heat out of the house).

  6. Chris Humphries said,

    March 3, 2010 at 1:08 am

    It’s great that you are willing to endure some cold to keep your carbon footprint down but you may want to reconsider using wood to boost temperatures if your goal is to be as environmentally sensitive. Wood stoves and fireplaces are really bad for air quality due to incomplete combustion. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a fireplace hater. There is something quite natural about enjoying the warmth of a fire. If we didn’t have coal fired power plants reaking havoc it wouldn’t matter – but we do. Humidity control is a great strategy to improve the “feel” of the room and maintain a healthy environment – especially in the winter. Low humidity levels can make you more susceptible to getting sick and is really uncomforable – even when its warm. Ideal relative humidity levels are about 45%. I don’t have my carbon calculator handy to drop some stats for you about wood burning versus propane or natural gas heaters but I encourage you to google some alternative solutions for zone heat and humity control strategies. I hope this doesn’t sound judgemental. Obviously your heart is in the right place.

    • Emily said,

      March 3, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Actually, as far as carbon goes, my research shows that wood emits far less carbon. A cord of wood is about 19 million BTU, which is equal to 207 gallons of propane. 1 cord = 150 lb carbon; 207 gal propane = 2572 lb carbon.

      It’s the particulate matter that’s the bigger polluter. We have a fireplace insert that re-burns the soot, and it’s got a blower on it to put the heat in the room, not up the chimney. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s far better than an open-hearth fireplace, and I think at this point in my area, reducing carbon emissions is a bigger concern than particulate pollution.

  7. TechSamaritan said,

    March 3, 2010 at 10:08 am

    And we use a catalytic combustor stove, so our particulate emissions are dramatically reduced, mostly outputting water vapor and left-over CO2. When we are burning, you can barely tell from our chimney. Compared to all the outdoor burners around us, we are extremely clean burning.


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