Overall it has been a cold winter across our area, taxing furnaces everywhere.
Since early fall Mike Hoffman has been following the utility bills for some local families who have put in new heating systems, to try and save some money.
So far all three have saved money, although by varying degrees.
The Riggs family in Granger needed a new air conditioner anyway, so they decided to spend another $2,100 and make it a heat pump for their 2,500 square foot home.
A system like this basically is able to work backwards and send cold air outside during the winter, which warms the home. They had some problems with their furnace, not associated with the heat pump, which may have added some cost to their bills.
They spent just $297 for both gas and electric in February. It has also not been an ideal winter for a heat pump, they tend to be more efficient during a mild winter. Still, the Riggs' have saved $112 so far, which would pay the system back in 19 years.
In Rolling Prairie, the Sherrick family bit the bullet and shelled out about $12,000 after rebates for a geothermal system.
This is the most efficient home heating system available as it actually takes natural heat from the ground and brings it inside.
It takes a lot of pipes and pumps to accomplish this, but it heated their 2,200 square foot home for only $151 from mid-February through mid-March.
Through February, they have saved a whopping $1300 with an estimated savings by the end of winter of almost $1600. That would pay back the entire cost in 7.7 years -- even quicker if you count the air conditioning and water heater savings.
In South Bend, Mike Hoffman's family replaced an old furnace with a very high efficiency model early last fall.
Their 1927 home has 2,400 square feet and, is well insulated in the attic, but not the walls, so it still cost $326 to heat with natural gas in February. But, they have been very happy with the savings so far: As of march first, they have saved $415, with an estimated savings of over $600 by late spring. This would pay back the $3,900 cost in about 6.4 years.
Obviously, these are 3 unique situations and savings will definitely vary for every home and every heating system installed.
And if utility costs spike in the future, the savings will skyrocket.
We will get the March bills soon for these three families, and after the April utility bills come in, we will have the total savings in May.