“We are never home—we could never have used that much oil (propane)”. “We were gone for a month, turned the thermostat down as far as it would go and we still used oil. How can that be?”.
Did you know that an empty house set at 55˚ for an extended time will use lose more heat than an occupied house set at 65˚? How can a fuel bill barely change when a house is empty? Here are some things to consider:
First, nearly every room in a home has electronic devices, such as TV’s, computers, stereos, etc. Each one of these gives off heat when you are home and using them. But, no heat is produced when you are gone and they are shut off.
Also, lights, cooking, showers, clothes drying and people all give off heat that help raise and maintain the temperature in a room, requiring the furnace to work less. Thus, less fuel is consumed. The average person gives off 116 watts per hour of heat a day. So, a family of four is like having eight 60 watt incandescent light bulbs on 24 hours a day. That’s a lot of heat.
Now consider going on a 2 week vacation in December or January to some place sunny and warm. Naturally, you would set your thermostat back to 55 degrees, close all your curtains turn off all the lights and lock the door. As you head to the airport, you assume that no energy will be used in your house. Except, the outside temperature while you are gone doesn’t get higher than 45 degrees and the overnight lows are in the mid 30’s. Without all those mini heaters constantly producing heat, your furnace actually works harder just to keep the house at 55 degrees. Every time you cook your stove produces heat. Every 60 watt light bulb in your house is essentially a 60 watt heater. Your computer, stereo, even your Energy Star© flat screen plasma TV produces a large amount of heat that we all take for granted. But, when you turn all those devices off your furnace alone has to replace all that heat that the colder outside temperate is stealing.
So, what can you do? The best long term solution is to make sure your house is properly insulated, including double pane windows and make sure your furnace is tuned up annually to maintain its manufactured efficiency.