By Julia Dwyer Sullivan • December 03, 2014
This year marks a big milestone in my life. Did I get married? Nope. Did I have kids? Hahahaha! No way. Did I buy a house, land a new job or manage to get my oil changed on time? Not a chance.
This year, 2014, is the year I moved into a wonderful new apartment in a great location…utilities not included. That’s right, people. This lady is paying for her own heat for the first time in her life, and I’m here to tell you – those toasty bills can cost you some cold hard cash if you’re not careful.
The first month I moved in to my new place, I sort of forgot about this new arrangement. I mean it’s called a housewarming for a reason, right? So in celebration, doors were left open and hot showers lasted for hours. I cranked up the thermostat at the slightest whim – like, if it was cold outside, if I felt a chill or say I felt like wearing shorts and a tank. And then the bills came.
So now I’ve learned, the expensive way, that the sweet deal I’m getting on my rent is only fantastic if I can keep an eye on my utilities' costs. I started looking for ways I could keep my house warm and my bill low. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a few small adjustments I can make that have a big impact on what I owe. I now close doors behind me, put on a cute sweater when I’m feeling frosty and turn the heat down when I’m sleeping or leaving the house.
All of that was fine and good and my next bill was about 15% less than the one before it. But I went looking for more. The first thing I noticed (okay, the first thing my more responsible friend pointed out) was that my front door has about a 1” gap at the bottom of it. That space was a draft’s dream! So I found these very affordable double draft stops and my problem was solved.
Next I considered the gorgeous, brick fireplace I’m lucky enough to look at every day. I was honest with myself; I’m not going to light an actual fire in it very often and a lot of warm air was escaping up the stack. I found these easy to install fireplace plugs and sealed off that money waster immediately. The best part is it'll be really easy to remove on one of those nights I decide use the fireplace (fully supervised, of course).
Lastly I called a man who knows quite a bit about hot air: my dad. He let me know that with a simple outlet insulation kit, I can stop that valuable warmth from seeping through my light switches and electrical outlets. I managed to insulate every outlet in less than an hour – and he was right! They were all freezing cold. The man is a genius! Forget tying my shoes and not eating yellow snow, this is by far the best thing he’s ever taught me.
I just got my bill for November and I am happy to report my problems have been solved! My bill is down 33% over all and my not-so-new apartment is cozy and warm. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to haggle with my Internet and cable provider – a grown up’s work is never done…
Happy Holidays and Warmest Wishes!
Julia Dwyer Sullivan Julia Dwyer Sullivan graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Dramatic Writing. She now works as a starving artist (she ate the degree years ago).