Weatherproof your house to save cash 

Space heating is highest cost for Whistlerites

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The concept of "room temperature" is not set in stone. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers puts it at 21.1 degrees Celsius. The U.K.-based West Midlands Public Health Observatory suggests a balmy living room temperature of 22C and a cooler bedroom temperature of 18C.

Depending on the building and its purpose, room temperature varies from 18 to 23C, but a lot of the time it comes down to personal preference. Some like to wear t-shirts and shorts around the house during the winter, others like to wrap themselves in Snuggies in front of the television.

Whatever temperature you prefer, consider that heating space is the biggest single cost for the average Whistler home at $750 per year — almost 40 per cent of total electric/gas costs.

According to Ted Battiston, the manager of community energy and emission reductions, the average Whistler home spent $2,000 per year on electricity in 2010 — a number that could rise by roughly $340 annually as a result of BC Hydro price increases.

BC Hydro originally applied to raise rates 32 per cent over three years, but in November reduced the increase to 17 per cent. Residential rates already increased eight per cent this year, and will increase roughly four per cent in March 2012 and again in March 2013.

Given that space heating is the number one expense, it's also the area where people can experience the biggest savings.

One of the simplest solutions available involves installing programmable thermostats to better regulate heat, letting rooms cool down during the day and during sleep hours. According to BC Hydro, the thermostats range from $25 to $100 each (or $250 if you opt for the super cool Nest "learning" systems at www.nest.com), and can pay for themselves within a matter of months. It's estimated that you can immediately cut about 10 per cent or $200 from your total hydro bill.

If you turn down the heat by just two degrees you can reduce home heating costs by five per cent. If you lower your temperature to 16 degrees overnight, say 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., you can cut your heating costs another 10 per cent.

But while taking more care with the way you heat your home will help you save, you can reduce your heating costs further by doing some draft-proofing around your doors, windows, outlets, attic, vents and other areas that contact the outside world. Some outside air circulation is necessary to prevent mold and moisture issues — and vents are written into the building code — but a company called Utah Energy Audit discovered that outside air infiltration is three to four times higher than it needs to be because of leakages.

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