Propane Bills 101: Energy-Saving Resolutions for the New Year

When heat leaves the house, it usually goes out the front door. (image: Department of Energy)

What do North Carolina and South Korea have in common? Their propane prices are starting the year near historic highs.

Though really, it’s happening around the Northern Hemisphere this heating season: Prices are on the rise. That puts the pinch on propane customers, especially those who just splurged on a new flat-screen TV for Christmas. And so we offer some new year’s heating resolutions for trimming the heating bill, courtesy of the Department of Energy.

Insulation is a biggie. An attic without insulation is like a bald man without a hat — heat comes pouring off the top. “Adding insulation to the attic is relatively easy and very cost effective,” the DoE advises. And only 20-percent of homes built before 1980 are well insulated, they say. Check their fact-sheet on insulation here, with pointers about how much stuffing to get based on where you live.

Check for heat leaks. Heat escapes every time it gets the chance. It slips out from the obvious places, like cracks around your walls, windows or doors. And also from less obvious ones, like an open fireplace damper. The thermal photograph above provides a pretty clear picture of where the vulnerable parts of the house are — and should help you make the case for getting insulated windows installed. (Paranoid sidenote: It seems like heat escapes from the same places a burglar could break in…)

Set up a lighting plan. Keep an eye on the high-use light areas, like the kitchen and living room, says the DoE. Then consider timers, occupancy sensors, or dimmers — which can also add a little mood lighting at dinnertime. Fluorescent lights are an option, too, since they consume less energy than the standard incandescents.

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