Heating Bills For Older Housing On The Rise

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COLUMBIA - Many people who live in older housing in Columbia have seen their heating bills grow, in some cases even double in the past months because of the frigid temperatures in Columbia.

"Well we don't have central heating, so we use space heaters and fan heaters, Columbia resident Nate Alles said. "Our house is pretty old. There's lots of cracks, and it gets drafty, and lot of the heat escapes in the room. So, it costs a lot more to keep it warm."

Alles lives in the eastern part of Columbia and rents his house. Renting a house, especially an older one can become a big issue when dealing with heating a house. Alles rents his house with two roommates, and his electricity bill jumped more than one hundered dollars last month.

In September the Columbia City Council voted to adopt the International Code Commission's 2012 update of the energy-efficiency standards which gives new homes tougher standards, including a blower door-test to check for air leakage.

"The city council passed the new standards this year and any new construction will have to have an air blower test for air leakage," Hill said. "The idea of that is less cold air in less hot air out."

Weatherizing and preparing a house during the winter weather can be a helpful way to save on heating costs. Re-caulking drafty windows, and putting towels under doors are some of the things  owners of older homes can do to keep the cold out. 

Hill also recommends changing furnace filters to keep the heat running efficiently.

"If you don't change your furnace filters it gets dirty, matted and clogged," Hill said. "The air can't go through. The furnace is working just the air isn't coming out, so you're not gonna feel the heat. Its kind of like having a wash rag on your face and saying go have a good workout. You just can't do it."

Replacing old windows can also play a big role in the energy efficiency of a house. Older houses tend to have drafty windows which allows for cold air to get in.