We moved in to this house in December. A month later I received our first gas bill. $300. Just in gas. No other utilities. We have an electric stove and dryer so it was costing us $300 just to warm our home and water. After picking myself up from the ground, where I had fallen over in sheer disbelief, I walked straight to the thermostat and pushed the down button 6 times. We were pretty cold the rest of the season, but it was bearable, if uncomfortable. Unfortunately the bill didn’t go down that much. We knocked about $100 off, but since we never went above $100, even in the coldest months, at our old house, it was still a painful bill.
The oh-so-funny part is that when we bought this house it was touted as “energy efficient.” The windows had been replaced just a few years ago! Right. The upstairs windows had been replaced and are very nice, but there were two older windows downstairs, and the front and back door, along with a sliding glass door were all extremely inefficient. The back door wasn’t even an “outside” door – it was just hollow wood, the same thing we have for every room inside the house. When you walked past it, you could actually feel a breeze. The sliding glass door was almost as bad, along with the fact that it stuck every time you tried to open and close it (which somehow didn’t happen when we were shown the house). The front door had a storm door that seemed to keep most of the air inside, but it was still perceivably cold to the touch and there were cracks in the wood base where you could see sunlight streaming in, during the day.
So Tom and I made the decision, once we confirmed that we’d be getting a tax refund, to have the doors, plus one basement window (the one that had a crack) replaced. We did research and finally decided on making the plunge to get the best. We’ll get a tax credit next year on everything but the sliding glass door (turns out the credit doesn’t apply to a full-glass door) but it still managed to almost completely wipe out our savings.
The kids probably won’t be able to go to college, but they also won’t have to risk frostbite this winter to try and control the gas bill. Toes are a much better benefit than a bachelor’s degree anyway.
(It didn’t occur to me to take “before” pictures until after they had started replacing everything. All the “after” pictures, plus an old one I found of the front door can be found on flickr.)