Now that we've been in our home for a year I am able to go back and compare electric bills. Last year, our electric bill due in February was our first full month's bill out on our homestead. Last year that bill was $259.43. When we received this year's bill due in February, the total was only $124.21. That's a difference of $135.22!!!!!
Needless to say, I was absolutely giddy to see the reduced amount. Especially since, last year at this time, we were freezing inside our home and this year we're been cozy and warm through the winter.
The first change we made to increase our home's energy efficiency was to have more insulation put in our attic. Early last summer we realized that there were spots in the attic that had ZERO insulation in them. So, we remedied that as soon as we were able. Then, in the fall, we invested in some custom-made insulated curtains for the south side of our earth-berm home. Just using these two improvements helped a lot because we were able to live comfortably in our home without any heat source until the latter part of fall. When we finally did have to have heat, we used our woodstove. This time last year, we were just moved in and we relied solely on the central heat for the majority of the winter. I cannot explain to you the difference between heating our home using central heat versus wood heat. Despite having vents in every room of the house, the central heat could run constantly and never get the chill out of the air. On the other hand, when we use our wood stove (which is in the kitchen at the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms), the entire house has a warm cozy feel to it. It makes no sense to me that the woodstove can keep the bedrooms at the other end of the house warmer than heating vents can.
We don't use the woodstove during the daytime. I think that our home is now well-insulated enough that the residual heat from overnight use, combined with the sunlight coming in the southern windows, keeps our home a cozy 70 degrees in the daytime. See all the sunlight coming in those windows! It's currently 15 degrees outside with a couple inches of snow on the ground, but the sunlight makes it so nice and warm inside. Our thermostat is showing that it's 73 degrees inside!
When Shawn comes home from work in the evenings he loads up the woodstove and we use it through the night. I've also stopped using our clothes dryer for the most part. I've started doing laundry in the evenings and setting up our dryer racks overnight so the clothes can dry in front of the woodstove. In the morning the clothes are usually dry.
All of these changes have really added up and I'm so happy with the investments we've made in our home. After being really disappointed in our earth-berm home last winter, I can now say that I am thrilled with the savings we're now seeing!