How to Save Money on Heating: Cut Heating Costs | The Old Farmer's Almanac

10 Ways to Save Money on Heating

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When the cold of winter sets in, it’s time to get creative to cut heating costs!

Keep Yourself Warm and Lower Your Heating Bill With These Tips

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Everyone wants to save on their heating bill, so here are 10 ways to cut heating costs and keep your home warmer in the cold season!

During the chilly months of late fall and winter, no matter what heat source you use—oil, gas, electricity, or wood—you can cut costs by adopting temporary measures to keep the thermostat turned down. Here are some money-saving tips for cutting the cost of cold snaps.

Note: Some of these tips are only appropriate for above-freezing cold snaps and are not advised for subfreezing temperatures.

Keeping Down Heating Costs

  1. Keep doors and vents open in each room to keep air circulating properly, at the correct pressure, in your home. When heating your home, it’s better to keep doors and vents open. Closing them can make your heating system work harder and less efficiently and cause ductwork leaks or other issues. Move furniture back from the heating vents so that you get all the heat you’re paying for!
  2. Hang blankets over the windows at night. Get insulated curtains in your windows to trap heat. 
    Or, just tape or thumbtack the sides and bottom of blankets to the walls or windowsills to maximize the insulation value. (Press the tacks or tape under the bottom of the sill and over the top of the frame to hide any damage to the finish.) Remove the coverings on the south side of the house during the day to let in the warming sunlight. 
  3. Cover cracks around doors and windowsills with rugs, newspaper, towels, or other insulation. Window-sealing kits can be bought at hardware stores, too.
  4. Use energy efficient electric space heaters in living or work areas. These are more efficient than the furnace for localized heating, and they will allow you to set the thermostat lower for the whole house. Always be sure to use space heaters in open areas only.
  5. Put on layers. The real trick to staying warm is to dress in layers, so get a few pairs of long underwear and long-sleeve undershirts that you can wear in addition to your regular lounge clothes. 
    Don’t underestimate the heating power of a wool sweater! Don’t forget about slippers! And if you’re really chilly, wear a cap or hat!
  6. Add layers to your furniture. Don’t forget to add warm blankets to your sofa and flannel sheets on your bed and even extra rugs to your floors (especially the bathroom)!
  7. Change your furnace filter. A dirty filter increases your heating bill. It’s worthwhile to change your filter every month if needed! It goes without saying that the annual furnace tune-up is well worth the money saved.
  8. Lower the thermostat. For many heating systems, if you are home during the day, it is best to keep to the lowest comfortable temperature; an often recommended setting is 68°F. When you are asleep or away for several hours, however, it makes sense and cents to lower the thermostat about 8 to 10 degrees. 
    Tip: A programmable thermostat will make the adjustments for you. (Note: If you have a heat pump, a more moderate, constant setting works best; or use a programmable thermostat specifically designed for heat pumps.) 
    During extreme cold snaps, set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature that your furnace can handle (the furnace will work better at lower temperatures), and keep it at that temperature both day and night. (Remember that setting the thermostat higher than your goal won’t make the home heat faster.) If you are planning to be away for a few days, set your thermostat no lower than 55°F, to help prevent water pipes from freezing during cold weather.
  9. Check the damper. Shut the damper when the fireplace is not in use. Check the seals around the damper to make sure that they are tight.
  10. Drink a warm drink. Though consuming the hot liquid will only warm you marginally, holding a warm mug in your hands can really help!

See some great tips from Almanac readers in the comments below.

a cup of hot tea

Learn More

Get tips on how to keep pipes from freezing in subfreezing temperatures, explore more ideas for staying warm in winter, and catch up on your winter weather terms so you know when storms are coming!

What do you do to save money on heat in your house during the winter? Comment and let us know!

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