Warmth is key, but high heating bills can put a strain on your budget. Here are a few simple hacks you can use to keep your home toasty without blowing your energy bill.
For example, lower your thermostat when you’re out of the house and raise it just before you come home. You can also install a programmable thermostat to save even more.
1. Get a Good Thermostat
A well-placed thermostat can save you a lot of money. Make sure it’s mounted on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, drafts, and windows. The thermostat should also be located in an area where natural room air circulation happens—warm air rises, cold air sinks. This is especially important when it comes to unused rooms like guest or laundry spaces.
Consider installing a smart thermostat, which allows you to control the temperature of your home via your smartphone. You can set up weekly, daily, and even hourly schedules. Some of these smart thermostats are “self-learning,” meaning they adjust the temperature according to your habits and learn how warm or cool you prefer your home to be.
If you’re installing a new thermostat, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to prevent “ghost readings.” You can also help your heating system work better by making sure all the warm-air vents and radiators in your home are open and not blocked by furniture or curtains. You can easily do this by moving anything that is blocking the flow of air in these areas.
2. Turn Down the Heat
Many homeowners have been tempted to turn down the heat at night in order to save energy, but this is typically not a good idea. It might seem counterintuitive, since it takes more energy to heat a home that is warmer than the outdoor temperature, but turning your heater off at night can actually cost you more in the long run.
The reason for this is that when your heater is turned off, it will take longer for the home to return to a warm temperature once the outside temperatures drop. This is why energy companies recommend setting your thermostat to a lower temperature for the hours that you are sleeping or at work, and then raising it before you come home.
This way, the house will be warm and comfortable once you return, and you won’t have to worry about your family freezing or being uncomfortable in their sleep. Additionally, studies show that a lower temperature helps improve the quality of one’s sleep, which is important for overall health and wellbeing.
3. Turn Off the Lights
As the winter chill sets in, it’s important to keep your home warm while minimizing costs and energy consumption. The following tips will help you do just that.
Don’t leave the heating on low all day. Instead, set it to turn off a couple of hours before you go out or bed. This gives the radiator time to cool down and allows you to enjoy a nice, toasty room when you get home.
Make sure that no combustible items are near the heater. This helps reduce the risk of fires and can protect your loved ones and pets from getting burned.
You may have heard that turning off lights is a waste of energy because they’ll likely be turned on again in a few minutes. However, this is a myth. When a light is switched on, it requires a surge of electricity which can use as much energy as fifteen minutes of continuous usage.
4. Insulate Your Furnace
Your furnace uses a lot of energy to heat your home. So it’s important to do everything you can to make sure that heat isn’t escaping your home. That means insulating your furnace and checking for leaks around vent pipes.
Keeping heat in your home can also save on your heating bills and reduce energy consumption, which has broader environmental implications. By reducing wasteful heat loss, you decrease the burden placed on our dwindling fossil fuel supplies and slow the pace of climate change.
Checking that heating vents aren’t blocked by furniture or curtains is a quick and easy way to prevent wasted heat. Move couches or other pieces of furniture away from the vent to allow the hot air to flow freely through your room.
You can also seal up areas where ductwork enters and exits your home. Use high-temperature caulking or expanding spray foam to seal the area around a pipe chase or the opening where a vent extends through your roof. You can also add insulation to the attic where the ducts are located. Just be sure to leave a 6-inch clearance between single-walled vents and any combustible materials.
5. Install a Door Stopper
When you heat your home, rising warm air can pull in cold air from the outside — especially if there are gaps under doors or around windows. A quick fix for this problem is a draft stopper. These are typically long fabric sacks (a knee or stocking sock filled with rice works well) that you put across the gap under your door. You can find them at most home improvement stores or make your own using scrap fabric.
Another way to cut energy costs is by not heating rooms you don’t use. Guest rooms, laundry rooms, and storage spaces should be closed off as much as possible so the heat doesn’t get wasted. If you have forced-air furnace vents in these unused rooms, consider buying magnetic register covers to shut them off so that the heater won’t pump out heat there. Also, be sure to keep ceiling fans running in reverse during the winter, which will force cold air down and help circulate warm air throughout your house. You can even add foam insulation to outlets to further reduce heat loss.
6. Cover Your Floors with Rugs
Rugs are great for adding color and design to a space, but they can also help trap warmth under your feet. They can also prevent cold air from coming in, and they offer a soft surface to walk on, even when the floor is tile or hardwood. If you don’t have rugs, consider adding them to your home or office for an extra layer of insulation.
Many homes lose heat through the windows. Keep curtains open on sunny days to let the sun’s warming rays warm your home, and close them at night to prevent warm air from escaping as quickly.
Drafts can sneak in through spaces around doors and vents, so use a door snake or a DIY version made from a long piece of fabric stuffed with rice or dried peas to seal the gap. You can also get outlet insulators to block cold air from getting into your house. These can be purchased at most hardware stores or online. They are easy to install and can reduce your energy bills by up to 10%.
7. Prevent Drafts Around Electric Outlets
Even if your windows and doors are well insulated, you may still be losing heat through gaps around outlets and light switches. Because the gaps are so small, they’re difficult to spot, but if you feel a draft there it means that outside air is getting into your wall and pushing the warm air down. You can reduce this by insulating your outlets and switches.
You can use a foam insulator, which you can find at home improvement stores. It merely goes behind the face plate of your outlet or switch to insulate against drafts, and it’s a simple, inexpensive way to save money on heating.
If you want to take it a step further, try using caulk in addition to the foam gaskets. This will help seal up the gap between your electrical box and the drywall, which is another common source of drafts. It’s also a good idea to close your curtains during the day, when the sun is shining through, and then open them at night to let the heat out.
8. Close Off Rooms You Don’t Use
Many homeowners are tempted to close off rooms in their homes that aren’t used, such as attics, spare bedrooms or laundry areas. They think this will help save energy by directing the heat to the rooms they use more often. But, while it might seem counterintuitive, closing heating vents in unused rooms actually wastes energy and can even cause problems with your ductwork.
Closing off vents and doors in unused rooms can actually prevent the warm air in your home from flowing to other parts of your house, which can lead to higher heating bills and less comfortable living space. Additionally, closed-off rooms can create stagnant air that could trigger window condensation. This can cause mold, mildew and other issues in your home.
A much better solution is to install a simple magnetic vent cover in the unused rooms so when you turn on your furnace, only the rooms you use will receive heated air. You can also try opening the drapes during the day to let the sun do its work in warming up rooms, and close them at night to trap the warmth inside your home.