Don’t let rising propane prices get you down – start saving now!

gasbill

Homeowners can’t change propane prices, but they can take control of their energy bills by following some simple tips.

With the 2014 polar vortex still a fresh memory, an early-season arctic chill has already blown over much of the nation, according to CNN. The cold snap – which brought record November lows to nearly every region – has many homeowners thinking about winter energy savings and how they will cope with unpredictable propane prices.

6 tips for overcoming high energy and propane prices

A frigid and snowy start to 2014 drove up the cost of propane as demand increased and the weather interrupted supply lines. Those relying on electric or natural gas also experienced higher bills. Regardless of the fuel source a home uses, everyone can conserve energy in similar ways. Often, a number of bad habits during winter exaggerate the costs of keeping a home warm.

  1. Keep the lights off: Not only does it become colder in the winter, it also gets darker. Homeowners should keep lights off in unoccupied rooms, including closets, garages and offices. This also goes for shutting down TVs, computers and other electronics that aren’t in use.
  2. Use a programmable thermostat: When no one is home, keeping a house at 74 degrees is no more beneficial than keeping it at 58. For those who don’t want to come home to a cold house, though, a programmable thermostat is the answer. A program will automatically raise the temperature just before family members arrive home, saving energy without sacrificing comfort.
  3. Lock in service when propane prices are low: In most cases, it’s best to lock in a yearly rate in mid-summer, when demand is low. Technically, an energy customer could come out behind on the very off chance that propane prices fall later in the season. However, this is rare and purchasing before blizzards hit is a wallet saver if propane prices nearly triple in January – which they did in 2014, according to The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News.
  4. Dress for the weather: It’s not practical to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter – even inside. Sweaters and thick socks allow homeowners to keep their thermostat setting low while still staying comfortable. Family members should also wear flannel pajamas to bed and grab extra blankets, so the temperature can be lowered even further when everyone is sleeping.
  5. Apply plastic over windows: According to Popular Mechanics, using clear plastic insulation kits for windows and patio doors can save up to $17 a window during the heating season in some climates.
  6. Control Humidity: A whole-home humidifier can also help homeowners stay cozy and energy conscious this winter. People feel more comfortable at lower temperatures when indoor relative humidity is under control.

While rising propane prices and energy bills will become frustrating this winter, homeowners don’t need to put their bank accounts at the mercy of the weather. With some small sacrifices, new technologies and good habits, families can realize real savings without reducing their comfort in the home.

Winter got off to an early start this year and much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

Winter got off to an early start this year and much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south. Early predictions by AccuWeather suggest the polar vortex will slip down for multiple blasts of cold air this winter, delivering weather very reminiscent of early 2014. The one bit of good news is that the mass of arctic air should march in and then retreat on several occasions, as opposed to lingering over the country for months.

However, in mid-November record lows were shattered across the country and nearly 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered in snow – the highest percentage since NOAA began tracking the figure, according to The Weather Channel.

Protecting Loved Ones from Frigid Winter Weather

While the polar vortex will make heading outside a miserable experience, it takes its toll indoors as well. Families should prepare now for what will be another long winter. Homeowners who have not had their furnace system checked and cleaned need to do so – and also consider how they will deal with low humidity levels. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that is in the air. As the relative humidity (RH) drops, the air begins to pull moisture out of anything that it can – including people.

When cold outdoor air is brought into the home and heated, indoor relative humidity drops significantly. Because the furnace runs so often during a polar vortex, homes get very dry. Dry air causes a host of health and comfort issues, including:

  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Cracked and itchy skin
  • Static shocks
  • Dry, itchy noses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat

Don’t Hang Your House Out To Dry

Humidity control is also integral to protecting a house and keeping heating bills down. Adding humidity when heating allows people to feel comfortable at lower temperatures. Energy.gov states that turning a thermostat back 10 – 15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating bills by 5 – 15 percent a year. During a polar vortex, keeping the thermostat down a few degrees could quickly add up to big savings.

Just like people, a house also “feels” the pressures of a polar vortex. Dry air can cause expensive electronic devices to fail, create cracks in wood floors and damage instruments and furniture. Ensuring that dry air doesn’t suck the life out of a house requires adding moisture throughout the heating season. A family’s daily routines, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry add some moisture to the home each day – but not enough to maintain optimal levels.

How to Control the Humidity in Your Home

Humidifiers are designed to efficiently and effectively control indoor RH during the winter months. Some people sleep with a small humidifier by their bed to prevent a dry throat in the morning, or purchase larger units to raise the RH in an entire room.

Many homeowners can also benefit from whole-house humidification solutions. A whole-home humidifier adds moisture to every room by using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, whole-house humidification products can also automatically change the amount of moisture being added depending on variables such as indoor and outdoor temperature. By continually monitoring and controlling how much humidity is added, automatic humidifiers raise RH without causing condensation to form on windows or walls.

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is as much about who’s around the table as what’s on it.

happy-family-holidy

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is as much about who’s around the table as what’s on it. The gathering of friends and family mixed with great food is what makes the day special. So, it’s not surprising that research has shown that how people eat (alone, at the table, in front of the TV) can have a significant impact on their happiness. Check out this infographic on Lifehack to see if your daily dinner routine promotes a happy and healthy family. 
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/heres-how-you-can-have-the-happiest-family-gathering-ever.html

We all tend to reach for the thermostat when the house gets a little chilly, but

cozy-up

We all tend to reach for the thermostat when the house gets a little chilly, but sometimes thicker socks or some hot tea is more than enough. Before you crank the heat, try some simple tips for staying warm while also saving electricity. And don’t forget that proper humidity control can also make your house more comfortable at lower temperatures.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/unusual-ways-warm-home_n_4638205.html

If there is one thing we all have in common today, it’s that we’re cold!

temps-low

If there is one thing we all have in common today, it’s that we’re cold! According to CNN, all 50 states – even Hawaii – have reported at least one area with below freezing temperatures. In addition, 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. had snow on the ground this morning. We hope this early blast of cold weather passes soon! Comment if you agree!
http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/18/us/cold-temps/

The pursuit of happiness is a unique journey for everyone.

Happy-people

The pursuit of happiness is a unique journey for everyone. However, there are certain things that can improve attitude and increase the chance of having a great day. Read the list below from Collective Evolution to find out the 6 things that many happy people say they do every day.http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/09/6-things-healthy-happy-people-do-every-day/