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My 2015 New Year’s Resolution

Paul Kando

My 2015 New Year’s resolution: I will take advantage of every opportunity to bring about permanent change for the better. One such opportunity is the drop in oil prices and with it cheaper heating fuel. Here are the statewide average cash prices from the Governor’s Energy Office’s latest survey: #2 heating oil $2.79 per gallon; kerosene $3.37 per gallon, and propane $2.73 per gallon. Last year at this time the corresponding prices were $3.72 for oil, $4.12 for kerosene, and $3.02 for propane. That is a decline of 25% for oil, 18% for kerosene, and 10% for propane.

Happy New Year 2015
photo credit: Vicious-Speed

In other words, for every $1,000 we spent on heating oil last year, we will spend only $750, saving $250 or an annualized $20.83 per month. The figures are $820 (saving $180 or $15 per month) for kerosene; and $900 (saving $100 or $8.33 per month) for propane. To cite one example, a household that spent $3,800 on oil last year will spend only $2,850 this winter, saving $950 or $79.17 per month.

As for that new year’s resolution, I plan to spend the money I save on fuel each month this winter on permanently improving the energy efficiency of my home, so that my heating costs will never rise to last year’s level again. Join me. We can’t claim we can’t afford to do this, since we did spend this money last year.

First of all, let’s make a plan. An energy audit can be a big help here, and one is likely cost us less than half of what we save this winter on oil. Second, commit three hours per week to working on the house, doing low-cost/no-cost improvements at first, and reinvesting the resulting monthly savings into further improvements. We may start with turning the water heater temperature down to 120ºF, saving something like $3.30 per month. Remove the window screens for the winter to let in more solar heat can easily save another $3.20 per month. That’s $6.50 in permanent savings, that repeat month after month. Next concentrate on sealing air leaks, since the typical older Maine house loses as much as half its heat through such leaks, which can also cause moisture problems. Start with sealing the electrical outlets and switches throughout the house, saving some 20 cents per outlet or switch ($6 for 30) every month.

We have hardly started and we are already saving $ 12.50 per month on top of what’s left of our oil price savings. We can use our growing savings to craft one or two inside storm window inserts every month, all the while doubling or tripling the R value of every window, saving as much as $9 per month per window as a result. (That’s $180 per month, for 20 average sized windows ) – and still have money left over for caulking and weather stripping.

So it goes. This is just the beginning of the long list of opportunities to permanently reduce heating costs. The important thing is to make a commitment and start making good on it. It’s easier than you think. As the late Maya Angelou said: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." The knowledge is available from our local energy cooperative; and have a happy New Year.