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The Insulation Works! Our heating bill has taken a nose dive

January 16, 2012

That’s right, your eyes don’t deceive you. That is a 47% decrease in our heating bill from December 2010 to December 2011. Holy Cow! Granted, Michigan has been unusually warm this year, but even the January heating bill was 30% lower. The amazing thing is all we did was insulate. We have not restored the windows or replaced the scary 60 year old boiler. So, hurrah to extra money in my pocket for me to spend on new house projects 🙂

Why oh why are we the first people in 80 years to add insulation to the house is beyond me. Were the PO’s freezing during the winter like we were? Maybe they liked keeping the house at 60 degrees? Maybe they had a pet alpaca and the talent to make really nice sweaters so warmth wasn’t a big concern (I mean, I get it….alpacas are cute!)? Or maybe they were terrified of the zombies in the attic? Well…..there is the chance that it was also lowered by the plunge is gas prices this year:

A 35% collapse in the futures price the past year has been a boon to homeowners who use natural gas for heat and appliances and to manufacturers who power their factories and make chemicals and materials with it.

This winter’s warm weather slowed the growth in demand, however, and created a glut. In the Northeast, December was the fourth warmest in the last 117 years. Winter supplies are 17% above their five-year average.

The natural gas futures price fell 13% last week, to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet. That’s the lowest winter level in a decade.

Natural gas glut

Natural gas futures price, dollars per million BTU, 6 months

“The market has been overwhelmed with gas,” says Anthony Yuen, a commodities analyst at Citibank. – USA TODAY

I actually received a solicited call from a gas supplier a few weeks ago. Apparently DTE, our utility company, buys gas from multiple companies and pools it for distribution to homes. The supplier let me know that we have the option of telling DTE we only want gas from a particular company and by doing so we can lock in our rate.  Now I know why they were calling! The prices have been falling so much the suppliers want to lock in consumers so they can sell off their surplus.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    January 17, 2012 11:20 AM

    Wow! I’m really impressed by the change! My bills have gone down too, but mostly because of the decrease in gas prices. I’m looking into getting a heating audit from my gas company, but since I rent, I’m not sure how beneficial it would be because I’d be pretty limited in the changes I could make to keep by gas usage down. Whatcha gonna use the extra green for?

    • January 17, 2012 7:44 PM

      It will most likely go to the rebuild of the flagstone front porch. It’s crumbling right now and we had a mason quote us for the repair last fall – $2800. It will look really beautiful when it’s done though, and the flagstone will continue to the sidewallk instead of stopping half way down the walk way.

  2. January 17, 2012 10:28 AM

    We’re lucky that our house was insulated at some point in it’s past…there’s blown in cellulose in all of the exterior walls, and fiberglass bats in the attic floor. The R value could probably be higher (lower? I can’t remember which is right), but it’s better than nothing!

    • January 17, 2012 7:46 PM

      Higher is better! R40 is recommended in attics for homes in regions with cold weather. Good thing your insulation was done – one less thing to work on 🙂

  3. January 17, 2012 12:27 AM

    Good post. It’s really amazing how many houses are so poorly insulated – even many cases where it would be totally simple to make at least some incremental improvement. I live in Minneapolis, where you’d think people would be at least somewhat aware of the importance of insulation. I understand that wall cavities and sloped attic ceilings are difficult places to insulate without doing sometimes major damage or renovations, but even the open attic spaces are often totally uninsulated. In many of the south Minneapolis homes around here, $200 of fiberglass batts and 3 hours of labor could easily save homeowners thousands in just a few years. Why some homeowners never get around to it is beyond me.

    Keep up the good work.

    • January 17, 2012 7:48 PM

      Hey there. I am in your home state right now for work. I agree with your comments and I can’t imagine living in an old home without insulation in a state where winter temperatures dip into the double digit negative numbers…..brrrrrr!

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