If you are like many energy conscious people, your winter home temperature may be just short of comfortable. If this was your goal and you do not mind a sweater, congratulations! I agree with reducing our energy consumption. But if you stay uncomfortably cold in your home throughout an Indiana winter, I would like you to consider some cheap tickets I have to the warm beaches of Hawaii. Of course, these tickets come with a catch, but if you submit to eight months of discomfort, you may be the perfect candidate.
It is about 4300 miles from Indianapolis to Hawaii. Let’s pretend I have a couple of airline tickets that are extremely low priced with a slight catch. The asterisk and fine print tell you the tickets will get you 98% of the way to Hawaii. (Quick math and conclusion: You will need to swim the last 86 miles!) Now, what is the value of those tickets that promises the best in winter comfort? Exactly. Zero. Value.
When you heat your home in the winter in Indiana, it is not uncommon to change the environment in your home by 70 degrees. That is, if it’s zero degrees outside and your winter home temperature is 70, you just spent (average) $10 per day to move from zero to 70. But what if you are still about 1.5 degrees from being comfortable? In my opinion, your $10 is wasted if you did not reach your comfort destination. For another 15 to 25 cents, you could have been comfortable!
Questions. If your winter home temperature is 72 instead of 70:
- Does this make a big difference in comfort? Absolutely, YES! Most humans are very sensitive to temperature changes. Two degrees will make a huge difference.
- Will my furnace or heat pump be OK running more? Yes. Regarding the added “load” on your system, adding a couple degrees indoors is just like the outdoors dropping two degrees. No big deal. Indiana weather can change two degrees in the time it takes you you to walk to your thermostat.
- How much will it increase my heating bill? For the winter season, about 3% per degree. So two degrees is about 6%. That assumes you maintain the warmer temperature 24/7. Two degrees for only 12 hours is about 3% while one degree twelve hours is only 1.5%.
I do understand that if your heating system is already causing high energy bills, then lowering your winter home temperature to a more conservative setting is a very worthwhile thing to do. A 24/7 lower temperature of 1 to 3 degrees can result in a 1% to 10% savings. When applied to a high energy bill, this is a high savings. If your winter energy costs are high and your heating system is old, consider upgrading your old furnace or heat pump to a new, high efficiency system. Your energy costs will be lower and it will cost less to finally reach your comfort destination.
Now about those low priced tickets I have for Hawaii. How about if I throw in some swimming lessons and shark repellent? Maybe then you would not mind falling 2% short of your comfort destination.