Jim Furlong: Fighting Back

Jim Furlong: Fighting Back

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Like you I am growing quickly tired of the steadily rising cost of electricity. My poorly insulated home was essentially warmed by electric heat. It was brutal. That little wheel outside in the electric meter on the house was flying around in winter like a ninja death star. Four years ago the February light bill in our house was more than $600 and it’s not a large house. That was it for me – the beginning of a long and ongoing journey from darkness back into the light. 

Labour Intensive

The first thing I did was get a wood stove. Let me warn you they are labour intensive. They don’t load themselves with wood … you have to do it. Besides that you have to get wood. Despite what you heard, wood doesn’t grow on trees. I buy one pickup load of west coast birch each fall. The rest of the wood is “acquired.” Some is cut. Some is found. I burn pallets to help along the wood stove. They are fabulous and free. Where they come from is a deeply guarded secret. They do have to be brought home and they have to be sawed up into stove-size bits. It’s all work, but it is good for you and the light bill went down because the baseboard heaters weren’t cutting in so much. 

I was only warming up (so to speak). I bought another few bundles of fibreglass pink for the attic and laid them in. I had insulation up there, but I needed more. I could tell that from looking at the way snow melted on the roof during the winter. 

The next thing was the crawl space under part of the house. Concrete walls; dirt floor. Very little insulation in the ceiling. I got a quote for insulating the walls with rigid foam. The quote was more than $7,000. That wasn’t on; so I did it myself. It was a horrible thankless job. An old man crawling around on his back and his stomach wearing a mask and goggles. It took a week, but it did make a difference. 

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Cutting the Heat Bill

The last thing I did was to get a heat pump installed. Everyone I asked told me that they worked and it would cut heat bills by a hundred bucks. Now installation of the pump was something I couldn’t do myself, so I just bit the bullet and paid the money. It is early in the game but it does seem to work. The house was cool on hot days and warm on days when it was cold. It will take time, but I’m on my way. As near as we can figure the bill in February next year should be less than $300, which is a long ways from over $600. 

It is all work, but I am having my revenge on those that sell power for fun and profit. They won’t be selling as much of it to me as they used to.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: jfurlong@ntv.ca

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