Author Topic: Utility costs, what is reasonable.  (Read 1074 times)

Fomerly known as something

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Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« on: February 28, 2018, 05:49:17 PM »
So I have purchased a new home.  I know it is not likely to be as energy efficient as my previous place but after experiencing one winter I'm trying to figure out if it's worth trying to add insulation or replace windows from either an economic or environmental perspective before something "breaks". 

For reference I do have a 96% energy efficient gas furnace.  My highest bill so far was for $125. 

What is considered a reasonable amount to pay for heat in the upper mid west?

Gronnie

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Re: Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2018, 07:13:18 PM »
How big is the house? When was it built? What kind of windows? etc etc ect

Nobody will be able to answer accurately without more information.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2018, 09:43:15 AM »
Get all the bills for the past year, look at all the monthly usages, ignoring hook up fees. Break out hot water vs. heating; hot water is roughly constant and you don't heat in the summer. That will give you the heating cost, now you know how much you spend annually. I would guess its in the $500 range.

From there, look at how much insulation you have and the cost to double it. If it would cost $500 to double your attic insulation, perhaps you should, it would likely save $50-75/year (10-15% of the heating cost). I'm making some pretty big assumptions on that one, you need to fill in the numbers for your house. When you start getting onto the very low heating costs it becomes very hard to make the economics work. My rule of thumb is a simple 10 year payback (or under) is good, anything over is bad.

Lady SA

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Re: Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2018, 10:09:36 AM »
I live in the upper midwest. For our 2 bed apt with large windows, we spend an average of $86 per month for utilities. Our lowest bill is $49 in the summer, and our december/january bill got up to $147. This is for keeping the house around 70 degrees because I get really, really cold.

This is an older building, built in the early 70's, I think. We have added insulating shrink film to our windows and hung quilts over some of the walls/windows in our room. Considering how cold it gets up here, I think our bills are pretty reasonable, but I'm sure we also have some room we could improve if we really wanted to.

sliverstorm

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Re: Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2018, 10:16:53 PM »
It's really hard to say from just the bill. But unless the house is really quite new or has had a lot of renovation, you can almost certainly cut your bills with improvements that will pay for themselves.

Speaking very generally, in order of cost effectiveness some common improvements are:

  • Air sealing
  • Basement rim joist insulation & sealing
  • Attic insulation
  • Cantilever & garage-ceiling/upstairs-floor interface insulation



Duct sealing (if your ducts are in unconditioned space like attic) belongs on the list but I don't know where

But if you want to tackle this you should see if there are low cost energy audits first. A thermal scan & trained eye will find the biggest ROI for you, instead of just guessing.

Air sealing is not glamorous, but it's the best ROI by far, so don't skip it! Windows are rarely cost effective to replace- they are just too expensive, and even the best windows are just not that much better. A regular window might be R-2, the very best windows are R-6, while your whole attic you can cheaply upgrade to R-60.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 10:21:00 PM by sliverstorm »

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Utility costs, what is reasonable.
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2018, 07:22:24 AM »
Size is 1600 sq ft two story.  House was built in 1996.  Windows are double-pain but again from 1996. 

It sounds like things that could be worth it are sealing, adding some extra insulation in the basement and attic but not doing anything else major unless necessary for another reason.