Shop Talk : Conserve heat, save money
Do heating bills have you down? Are you already wishing for spring, even though you haven't hit the slopes yet? Unfortunately we haven't even gotten to the worst of winter yet, but there is hope to get your bills down to a more manageable number with little or no cost to you.
Your first option is an old school method — swaddling. Yes, we all know about swaddling your baby, but it is just as good for your pipes. Put on those cozy socks from Island Alpaca in Oak Bluffs and bundle up in a warm wool sweater from Allen Farm in Chilmark. Sitting there watching TV? Wrap up in a fleece blanket from Black Dog and lower your thermostat a couple of degrees to save 5 to 10 percent on your monthly heating bill (you need to do this on a regular basis to get these results).
If you are still in the swaddling mode, visit your local hardware store. Shirley's Hardware and Hinckley & Sons in Vineyard Haven and Phillips Hardware in Oak Bluffs are always fully stocked to help you swaddle your home. There are great energy-saving options such as giving your hot water tank a jacket, and making your pipes super snug by putting insulation, fiberglass pipe wrap, or polyethylene pipe around them.
Like most of us, you are probably very busy and might not feel confident enough to optimize your house temperature settings throughout the day. Not to worry, a small investment in a Programmable Thermostat could be the way to go — think set it and forget it. Granite City Electric on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven has them starting at $90.
Another freebie is to take advantage of the warmth of the sun. Open your curtains to the south-facing windows during the day to get the benefits of solar gain. Just make sure that you close all your curtains before the sun goes down so that you can minimize the heat escaping. If you don't have a good set of heavy curtains on each of your windows, you might want to weigh your options of making the investment. Stylish and functional curtains can be found at Vineyard Decorators at the Airport, Island Home Furnishings in Vineyard Haven, and Tracker Home Décor in Edgartown.
Do you have drafts in your house? Well, the good news is there are great inexpensive fixes that you can do yourself. A quick trip to one of Edgartown's bountiful hardware stores: Edgartown Hardware, Granite Ace Hardware or EC Cottle (also on Lambert's Cove Road in West Tisbury), will provide you with the tools you need to make a tight, comforting home. Fill your cart with door sweeps, caulk, weather-stripping, and a candle then head home for a slow, candle-lit walk through your home. Hold the candle up to any window, vent, doorway, or crack you can find to test for drafts. Make a list of these drafty spots so you can go back and diminish the drafts with your new supplies. Once you are done, keep that candle lit, dim your lights, and enjoy your warmer, more energy-efficient home while you are dreaming of what to do with the extra bucks in your wallet.