How do I lower my electric heating bill?

Photo of author

( — December 6, 2014)  Denver, Co. –Living in the mountains of Colorado, it can become a cold place. Especially if the winds pick up and that translates into some huge heating bills. So what’s the best way to lower those heating bills if you live in Evergreen, CO or someplace similar? Here’s what you need to know.

Many have discovered alternative heating with fireplace systems to help lower your bills in the winter. How is this accomplished? Because the cost to operate a more efficient system can significantly save on your heating bills (to the tune of 50% or so)! It all works around the theory of heating the room instead of the whole house. This means you are saving money monthly and could pay off your new system entirely in just a couple years.

The 3 main heating products to choose from are either stoves, inserts, or a fireplace if you’re looking for new construction. Then there are also 3 fuels that we’ll go over as well. Plus what size you should buy.

The 1st fuel is Gas. Speaking with Michael Shortridge of Inglenook Energy Center owned by Dorothy Matthews, he says that most of their clients in Denver will operate on gas (either new fireplace installs, or fireplace inserts). Compare that to the mountain communities here and it switches to our #2 fuel, which is wood. Mainly wood burning stoves. The benefit of wood in the mountains is the abundance of it. Not to mention there’s a lot of free wood to be found by people cleaning up their property, which is typically not found in the city of Denver. Pellets are a 3rd option, which consists of compressed sawdust and looks like rabbit food. If you’ve got a pellet system, you’ll have to depend on electricity to keep it running because of the auger feeding system and fans, so keep that in mind when coming up with a new heating plan.

As for systems, as mentioned, Denver has a lot of gas fireplaces. The mountains will have a lot of wood burning stoves. Then there are also fireplace inserts. If you’ve got a big, cold room and want to heat it having some construction done to install a fireplace could be a worthy investment… but most tend to lose a LOT of heat. I.e. 90% of the heat from a fireplace can and will escape up the chimney. Don’t forget heat rises and you’re not going to heat your whole house with one, or even rooms 20’ away down a hallway. The idea of getting a huge unit to heat everything isn’t efficient. Look at your space and how your heat travels.

Those who have fireplaces already but want them to be more efficient will often go with a fireplace insert. This is basically a stove inserted into the fireplace opening to make it more efficient at heating the space. The point is that you’re using your existing space to take your efficiency from the normal 10% of a fireplace, to around 75% (+/- 10%) of an insert. This is a HUGE increase in efficiency and will save you a lot of money monthly. Again, look at the space you want to heat and if there are fans or other ways of having that heat travel to where you want it.

A Stove is another great heating choice as well because they can heat from all 4 sides (or 5 if you count the back). They radiate heat from all around. Put a pan of water on top and you can also add some humidity to your room. Heck, you can even play ‘cowboy’ and cook a pot of beans on it if you like. They can be either wood-burning, gas or pellet fueled. But if you’ve got electric base board heat and switch to a pellet or wood burning stove (or any more efficient heating system), you’ll be amazed at your savings.

The final piece to consider is what size do you need to heat the room (not the whole house, remember). A small unit should be good for 500-800 square feet. A medium unit for 1,200 – 1,500 s.f. And a large unit for 2,000 s.f. and over. Choose properly to get your system operating at peak efficiency and you’ll be using your furnace a lot less, which could turn into savings of up to two/thirds of your heating costs.

Want more info? Stop by for news and tips to mountain living.