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Saving Money on Heating Costs


Heating our homes can be very expensive. This is a guide about saving money on heating costs.


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Solutions: Saving Money on Heating Costs

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Recycle the Heat From Your Oven

If we have been using the oven during the winter or cooler months, we leave the oven door open after baking. The heat is turned off of course but my goodness, all the heat you can "recycle" by simply leaving the oven door open for a few minutes.

I refer to it as "recycled heat" because we've just paid for it to cook/bake with and now we can use it for additional warmth to the kitchen area. You don't want to do this during the summer or hotter months because it will make your kitchen even hotter. However, during the cold winter months, it sure feels good to feel it rolling out of the oven.

By Marsha from Greenville, NC

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Tip: Free Heat from Dryer Vent

What do you need in winter? Heat and humidification. Disconnect the dryer vent in the winter and let the heat and moisture stay inside. Smells nice too.

    By jean99 [6]

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    Tip: Keep Closets and Drawers Closed

    To save on your heating and cooling costs, keep your closet doors closed (same for dresser drawers, cabinet doors and such). Why pay to heat spaces you are not living in? Sounds petty, but closets and cabinets in most homes will add up to several square hundred feet. Why heat or cool it?

    By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri

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    Tip: Run Smaller Heater to Supplement Furnace

    I believe everyone these days are complaining about the high electrics bills we are receiving. The company which supplies my electricity keeps going up several times a year. In Dec. alone they went up 15.5%, after going up several times earlier in the year.

    If you have a kerosene heater or an electric space heater, I believe you could save some dollars by using it and turning down the heat pump or electric heat. The space heater runs off 110 while your furnace uses 220. It has been really cold where I live for the past month.

    So, I started using my space heater. When the room got warm enough to my liking, I turned the knob down until it cut off. I keep it in this position so it will cut off and on by itself. I have been very warm and my heat pump hardly ever has to come on now. I will find out next month how this will affect my electric bill.

    By Tricia M. from Ridgeway

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    Tip: Covering Heat Registers

    To stop cold air leaks from coming in your unused heat register vents just cut up one of those large magnetic calendars for your fridge. I got 3 covers from a Dollar Tree calendar.

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    Tip: Saving Money on Heating Costs

    A furnace for a home.Advice for saving money on heating costs from the ThriftyFun community.

    Insulation, Plastic and Other Tips

    Being here in Maine, we plastic our windows and bank our trailer, many homeowners do this too. And we plastic the trailer as well. Until I moved to Maine, I had no idea what Oil Heat was as we always had heat pumped in and such. So now we are really watching the oil closely. Also when we go to bed, we turn it down to like 65 from a toasty 75 degrees.

    If you have a wood burning stove, this helps run that during the day throughout your home and shut off the oil heat and only use the oil heat at night when you are sleeping. That is what we do and it has made a big difference for us economically. These are just common sense though. I don't know what else to really do other then those tips :)

    By Lynne in Maine

    Polar Fleece for Curtains

    Use polar fleece for curtains on cold, drafty windows, really helps keep the heat in your house.

    Keep The Heat Low with a Programmable Thermostat

    Call me crazy, but we keep our home at no higher than 66 during the day, and at night it goes to 56. We do have a programmable thermostat so the heat comes up early in the am before we wake. I have to admit that we do wear a sweater or a sweatshirt in the house when we are awake, and do have big comforters on our beds. Actually, I'm way too warm in most other homes, and public buildings, for sure. Although I'm sure I grew up with higher indoor temperatures, I'm totally acclimated to what I've chosen to exist in now.

    Hot Water Heater

    We have a propane fueled hot water heater. We placed it on a timer for the hours we need or use hot water. For us, the timer turns it on between the morning hours of 4 AM and 9 AM, then turns off until 4 PM until 9 PM. We scheduled our baths and dishes between these hours. During the off cycle, the tank of water holds well at over a 100 degrees for the 50 gallon reserve. We bought a timer for about $5.00. Look at Christmas clearances, since many of these timers are used for automating lights for decorating. The one we bought has multiple programs so one can use it to turn on lights at variable times, down to the minute for anti-theft purposes the rest of the year. Why have your tank running 24/7 when no one is needing it?

    By Ladybugv2

    Plug Drafts

    The house that I own is very old and in turn has old drafty windows. Eventually, I'm going to reinsulate the entire house and replace all of the windows. My bedroom windows are very drafty, so in the meantime, I put beads of caulk on the inside of the storm windows and covered the windows with an insulating kit, which helped a lot. Also, in the master bathroom, the medicine cabinet is built into the wall and I noticed a very cold draft leaking from around the cabinet. It's an inside wall, but there is a crawl space under that portion of the house. I put a bead of white caulk around the entire cabinet and ran my finger into the caulk to even it out. You can only see the caulk with the doors open. It did, however take a few days for it to completely dry, but the draft is totally gone. This house is pushing 100 years old and although had received in insulated addition 30 years ago, I'd be willing to bet the rest of house is not insulated. Meaning that tearing down old plaster, insulating and re-drywalling is going to get quite expensive and a whole lotta fun!

    By Scubasteve817

    Dress Warmly

    I learned to get use to my heat at a constant 60 degrees, invest in thermal underwear, and wear this full time in the winter. Also invest in a down comforter. By doing just this, my gas bill was 100 dollars cheaper a month than it was last year and I am accustomed to the cooler climate. We also took out all our air conditioners and put them in the shed and put all storm windows in.

    Also reserve your hot water just for showering, you can safely wash clothes and dishes in cold water. Water has small amounts of chloride in it, this is a germ fighter. You don't have to wash your clothes in hot water to kill bacteria. Also your detergent is enough to safely clean clothes and it works in cold just as well as hot. I have been washing clothes in cold water for over 20 years with no problems.

    By Crazylady4christ2007

    Great Tips From Missouri

    • Make sure fireplace dampers are closed when not in use, and cover the opening.
    • Insulate light switches and receptacles that are on outside walls
    • Insulate attic and pipes
    • Use ceiling fans, remember to use the winter setting to force warm air back down.
    • Use plastic on north windows. Other windows also if necessary.
    • Skirt trailers. Make sure crawl spaces openings are covered.
    • Keep garage doors closed
    • Use insulated or thermal backed curtains and drapes.
    • Do your baking either in the morning to help warm up the house, or during the coldest part of the day that you are home.
    • Try to run your clothes dryer during the coldest time of the day.
    • Boil water. Moist air feels warmer.
    • Keep closet doors, cabinets, pantries closed. Why pay to heat an un lived in space.
    • Make sure that if you have a room above the garage, the garage ceiling is insulated well
    • Use rugs on the floor
    • Drink warm drinks during the day; tea, coffee, cocoa, jello water, etc.
    • Keep thermostat down during the day, and set it lower at night.
    • Layer your clothes. Right now I have on long johns-makes a huge difference
    • Wear slippers and socks.
    • Use flannel bedsheets and an extra blanket.
    • Sweats are warmer to wear than jeans
    • I have a hook hanging in my bathroom above a heat register. Before I shower, I hang my towel on it. My towel is toasty warm when I get out of the shower. I also hang my nightgown on it and then change into my nightgown a few minutes after I hear the heat blower turn on. Again, its toasty warm to put on.
    • Do your vacuuming, dusting and other exercises that require movement when you get to feeling cold. This may mean you spend 15-20 minutes every 60-90 minutes cleaning--kind of in spurts.
    • While sitting at the TV or computer, cover up with a comforter. Or, several family members on the sofa can benefit from sharing an electric blanket.
    • Leave home! Turn down the thermostat and go to the library where its free and warm. You can get online there, read the paper there and study there. Or check out your local community center, go walking if they have an indoor track.
    • Make sure all windows are closed tight. Lock them to be sure, a window that is open if even a tiny bit usually will not lock.
    • I love to crochet in the winter. My blanket or afghan I am working on keeps my lap warm!
    • If your heating system is the type where you can close off a room, close off what you don't need. Right now one of my daughters is sleeping in with her sister because her room has its own heater and hers is turned off.
    • Open the curtains and drapes when the sun is hitting them. Close them back when temps start to drop and the sun moves on.
    • Get a lap cat!
    • Wear warm PJ's to bed, or sweats or long johns, instead of some thin materialed short nightgown. Wear socks to bed, or at least until the bed feels like it has warmed up.
    • If you heat with oil or propane, watch your prices. If prices drop during the summer months fill up then. Add up your total bill for a year, and try to budget that out over 12 months. When you fill your tank, take the money budgeted to that point and use it. For our family, our propane comes out to around $72 a month. Yet we only fill the tank twice a year. But, I try to tuck that $72 a month away for the next tank filling.
    • Use door gaskets around doors and windows that have air coming in through the cracks. To find where you have air coming from, CAREFULLY hold a lit candle and go around your door and window frames. When the flame flickers, you have found an air leak.
    • Do what you have to do. Right now it is so cold and windy, I have a blanket tacked up over a door that currently feels like ice. The blanket is stopping some of that cold air. May be ugly, but its working.
    • Try to combine your trips in and out of the house to one trip. This saves you from opening and closing the door.
    • Insulate pet doors or block them off
    • Eat warm meals instead of cold ones. Hot cereal in the morning instead of cold cereal. Hot ham and cheese sandwich instead of a cold one.

    By Mom-from-missouri

    The Utilities Charge What They Will

    Here in Illinois, there is no such thing as saving money on heating or cooling. After insulation, windows, doors, caulking, screwy light bulbs, etc. The power companies (monopolies) still get there way with the increases, both gas and electric at will. There is only so much one can do to a house to make it more efficient, after that they are at the power companies will. We are going to get another increase in rates, second time in 6 months.

    By Bob

    Heating Is High In Illnois

    I'm with you! I live in So. IL and I don't even want to see my bill when it comes in this month, I have a 108 yr old house and even w/ new windows and siding I hear the furnace run constantly and also hear Ameren rubbing their hands together then sticking them out for more money!

    By Lisa

    Block Drafts

    I have found that blocking doorways with curtains really seem to help as well. Again doesn't exactly look fashionable but I would rather save on my heating. By closing off doorways you keep the heat in the room being used - not drifting through hallways and stair cases. This is also why I keep bedroom doors shut at all time and make sure all closet and cabinets are shut (unless I am worried pipes might freeze then the cabinets under sinks are opened) (I use the curtains during the summer too IF I am using the air conditioner -- same theory of keeping the cool are where it is needed.)

    By Lisa

    Heating With An Oven

    We were paying $150/month on a revolving credit plan for heating oil until our furnace broke. Until the landlady gets forced air in (any time now) we've been as toasty as can be just heating our 3 Bedroom rancher with the oven set to 400 degrees F and a big pot of water on one burner( set on low). Our electric bill has been about $100 more per month, but no oil to worry about! We closed the heat vents and made sure the attic was insulated, had two ceiling fans put in, Thanks

    By Cathy S

    Candles Put Out Heat Too

    This year, I've dug out all of my candles that I got as gifts and tucked into cupboards and closets, and have been burning them. I have a few really large candle containers that I put them in (to make them safer) and I make sure that I stay close. It has surprised me how much heat they put out. The other day, I turned down my thermostat another 2 degrees. I wouldn't do this if I had children or pets (too much of a chance of an accident). But it really has helped take the chill out.

    By susanmajp

    Keep Thermostat Low And Cover Windows

    Wisconsin Energy (WE Energy) recommends keeping your thermostat between 63 and 68 degrees. I get too cold sitting, reading or knitting, if it's cooler than that. I have an electric space heater, just in case, but haven't used it yet this winter, even though it's been below zero several times.

    I cover my windows with those plastic sheets and 2 sets of heavy curtains that I knit some years ago. I also insulated my basement walls with styrofoam sheets, which helped and now I don't worry about my water pipes freezing. And I agree that a knitting or crochet project can keep you warm while you're working on it.

    By Jantoo


    This is probably the way of the future, folks. I recommend everyone check it out!

    By Taylor from Switzerland

    New Furnace And Other Tips

    Last fall we had a new furnace installed. When I was negotiating price with the contractor, I hard balled him into wrapping all ductwork with insulation. (I have forced air & oil ). By having the money ready to pay him, And not having to scramble around for financing helped with negotiations. I did get the wrapping for no extra cost,besides the equipment and install. I upgraded by getting an Energy star furnace, & State and Federal will give me a tax CREDIT this year. I will use the credit for a new hot water heater (energy star). We cleaned the duct work as well.

    I can Honestly tell you that we are using HALF the oil we used last year. Go to your states web sites, see what they are offering. They also help out low income family's. If you are lucky enough to be able to switch to natural gas DO IT !! I also recaulked the window's and used leftover insulation (from the ductwork), in window's at the back of the house & in the basement. We also have a whole house humidifier, Yes, moist air is warmer! It is the box kind, enclosed in itself (cool air).

    I have found that the mist kind promotes mold. I also buy candles when they are are on sale, and burn a few in a safe place in my home. They do help with warmth and the glow is comforting. I also invested in down comforters for the whole family.

    We had a very sensible Xmas this year. It is far cheaper to buy sweat pants and shirts,than a tank of oil. We also wrapped our hot water pipes with those foam tubes the sell in hardware stores a few years ago. Every little bit helps. My next project after the hot water heater will be thicker curtain's. I want to make them myself. Buying the new furnace was stressful.

    You must do your research! I had 6 different contractors give me price quotes. I heard every kind of Hornswaggle imaginable. The Worst was from a national company that used to have a great reputation. You know who, In the mall. (hint hint) If anyone really needs advice, You can e-mail me by going to the seed swap. I am the lady offering the Organic lemon basil. Before I had any contractors in, I did as much research as possible. The better business bureau is a great place to start. Good luck to all, Ask for a hotwater bottle for Valentines day! (har har) Thank you thrifty fun community, You have helped me a great deal.

    By BX Barb

    Work With What You Have And Can Make

    Besides using Polar Fleece curtains, They sell a multi-layered insulated fabric to line drapes with. This has a mylar center and several layers of batting. It DOES cost a "pretty penny". But, If you sew, even just a little, I don't know why you couldn't make up your own multi-layer insulated curtains. You could use a white or another nice color plastic shower curtain (from the dollar store) for the side that faces the window, (Try to match your home's color because you'll see it from outside) then a piece of mylar, then the curtain fabric you see from inside your dwelling. If you like you can layer several pieces of polar fleece or batting in between the layers.

    I had a room with 4 HUGE single-pained windows that faced south. This room was too hot to use in the summer and waay too cold to use in the winter! I remedied the situation by first sticking a piece of plastic shower curtain (or mylar) to the window itself. I then bought 2 inch thick foam-core insulation boards from Home Depot... (These cost only $4 each!)...The foam-board fit INSIDE my window sills perfectly! ..I then calked these in with silicone calk... (you don't really have to use the calk if you want to take the foam down in the summer) Over these I hung a piece of plastic (like you'd use when you paint) Then I lastly hung up a large curtain that matched my wall. Now the cold and heat stays out year round. hat hard foam-board really does the trick and it comes in MANY different thickness. You can cut it with a jig-say, a hacksaw or an electric knife, or just score and break it. This little room I now use year round for my Craft/Sewing room. It's been a blessing to have the extra space! NO, I don't get much light but that's okay, at least the room in now usable! (I still have a door to my backyard that I can open for ventilation in the summer evenings)

    By Cyinda

    Making Lined Curtains And Draft Dodgers

    For anyone who sews; secondhand flannel sheets or fleece lap blankets make excellent drapery lining, especially if you can find them in solid colors. (Remember, dark colors absorb more heat and lighter colors reflect it, so dark greens and blues or even black will give you double bang for your buck on this!)

    Draft dodgers are great for blocking cold air under the door, but they don't stay in place and they get really dusty. If you can make your own, fill it with a washable material - or just make a slip cover for one filled with non-washable material. Also, apply a strip of velcro to both the base of the door and the draft dodger; then you won't have to reposition it all the time and it can easily be removed for washing.

    Again, if you can sew, miniature or smaller-sized draft dodgers work well at the base of older style windows too!

    And to Bob and Lisa - we also own a home that is over 100 years old, and we live in the cold and snowy midwest. I know the light/gas companies keep raising the rates, but saving money doesn't necessarily mean "cheaper than before" - it means "cheaper than it would otherwise be". The bottom line is that if you do things that will cause you to use less electricity/gas/oil, your bill will be less than it would if you'd used the usual amount.RE: Saving Money on Heating Costs

    Outlet Insulators

    You can get outlet insulation that you place behind your outlet covers. Our electric company (we have electric heat...eeesh!) gives them out for free each year, or you can buy them at your local hardware store. They don't cost much, and really help with those hidden cracks that allow heat in your home to escape, without being a danger to your family. I would suggest calling your utility company to see if they can tell you where to find these in your area, if you don't see them around town on your own.

    By freemommy

    Some Concerns

    Good advice, except for a few things:

    DO NOT wash your dishes with cold water. There's not enough chlorine in tap water to kill all bacteria. If you do your dishes in the sink, it doesn't take that much hot water to wash/rinse them, anyway. Don't risk getting sick, just to save a few cents.

    Keeping your thermostat too low can result in nasty flare-ups of various health problems. It's better to insulate and use space heaters, while shutting off heat to rooms you don't use.

    Aside from that, I've found a lot of tips here that I will definitely try this winter!

    By WildIrish

    Keep Furnace Shut Off When Not Needed

    Ever since this past spring, we have been keeping our furnace shut off. The red emergency switch up on the wall. We only turn it on for showers, dishes and warm washes. We have used about half the oil as usual. This has not done any damage to the furnace at all. It starts right up. It used to turn on constantly all day long, even with nobody home. Useless and expensive.

    By Sherri

    Do you have any ideas? Feel free to post them below!

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    Tip: Saving Money on Heating Your Home

    ThermostatTips and advice to heat your home for less this winter as suggested from the ThriftyFun community.

    Winterizing Your Home

    To help heat our home, we winterize by covering all the windows with the plastic made especially for them. We also make sure that our door thresholds are not leaking air and that our door have good weather stripping around them. Also, we keep our furnace turned down incredibly low because we have found that a good electric heater used in our main living area keeps us nice and warm during waking hours and at night we snuggle down in warm PJ's and heavy blankets to sleep. Saves us big on heating bills!

    By Robin

    Leave Oven Door Open and Other Tips

    One thing I do is leave my oven door open after baking, otherwise the heat in there just goes to waste. And this may sound funny, but here in the South, it is very popular to eat hot and spicy foods, especially in winter. They warm you up from the inside out.

    By Glomax56

    Lower Your Thermostat

    If you are going to be gone away from home, more than 8 hours, set thermostat 4 to 6 degrees lower in the winter. It can save you about 7 to 10 % in heating costs. Install inexpensive switch plate and outlet gaskets between outlets and exterior walls. About 2% of heat loss in home can occur through switches and outlets on exterior walls. Using caulk and weather stripping spaces around windows and doors, will prevent loss of energy from escaping around them.

    By Gladys Hill

    Get a Programmable Thermostat

    We bought a programmable thermostat. It was a little more money, but you can program it to change to a few degrees lower while you are at work. I used to try to set the thermostat lower, but I forgot a lot. Now this thing does it for me!

    By Sarah_bellum

    Use Furnace as a Backup

    Hello. My husband and I purchased our first home in 2003. We live in the northeast. It gets very cold here. Our home has a pellet stove plus a furnace with radiators. The cost of natural gas is so expensive to heat with so we use our pellet stove as our primary heat source for the winter months and it is great! Our furnace we'll use if the temp drops below 10. Anything above that, the stove can handle. It keeps us warm at 70. It's a great investment

    By Cheryl

    Free Firewood

    We have a fireplace and, thanks to Hurricane Ivan, he gave us about 30 big trees to use for the next couple of years, so we have free firewood.

    By Tricia36535

    Be Sure All Windows Are Closed

    We have windows that are able to be lowered top and bottom for cleaning, make sure that the top window is pushed up tight and locked. Seal all crack around the doors. I also like a cool house at night and lots of quilts!

    By Loretta

    Heating Tips

    • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.

    • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.

    • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

    • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.

    • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

    • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.


    One of the most important systems in your home, though it's hidden beneath your feet and over your head, may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. Your home's duct system, a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room. Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiber glass, or other materials.

    Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.

    Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out unsealed joints and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints. In the summer, hot attic air can be drawn in, increasing the load on the air conditioner. In the winter, your furnace will have to work longer to keep your house comfortable. Either way, your energy losses cost you money.

    Although minor duct repairs are easy to do, ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs.

    Duct Tips

    • Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.

    • If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape, which tends to fail quickly. Researchers recommend other products to seal ducts: mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heatapproved tapes. Look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo.

    • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.*

    • If your basement has been converted to a living area, hire a professional to install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.

    • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.

    • When doing ductwork, be sure to get professional help. Changes and repairs to a duct system should always be performed by a qualified professional.

    • Ducts that don't work properly can create serious, life-threatening carbon monoxide (CO) problems in the home. Install a CO monitor to alert you to harmful CO levels if you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove or other appliance, or an attached garage.

    • For new construction, consider placing ducts in conditioned space - space that is heated and cooled - instead of running ducts through unconditioned areas like the crawlspace or attic, which is less efficient.

    • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: You can lose up to 60% of your heated air before it reaches the register if your ducts aren't insulated and they travel through unheated spaces such as the attic or crawlspace. Get a qualified professional to help you insulate and repair ducts.

    * Note: Water pipes and drains in unconditioned spaces could freeze and burst in the space if the heat ducts are fully insulated, because there would be no heat source to prevent the space from freezing in cold weather. However, using an electric heating tape wrap on the pipes can prevent this.

    Heat Pumps

    Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and ground source.

    They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 30% to 40%.

    Heat Pump Tips

    • Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive.

    • Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions.

    • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: If you use electricity to heat your home and live in a moderate climate, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system.

    Solar Heating and Cooling

    Using passive solar design techniques to heat and cool your home can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Passive solar heating techniques include placing larger, insulated windows on south-facing walls and locating thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor or a heat-absorbing wall, close to the windows. In many cases, you can cut your heating costs by more than 50% compared with the cost of heating the same house that does not include passive solar design.

    Passive solar design can also help reduce your cooling costs. Passive solar cooling techniques include carefully designed overhangs,windows with reflective coatings, and the use of reflective coatings on exterior walls and the roof.

    A passive solar house requires careful design and site orientation, which depend on the local climate. So, if you are considering passive solar design for new construction or a major remodeling, you should consult an architect familiar with passive solar techniques.

    Solar Tips

    • Keep all south-facing glass clean.

    • Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete slab floors or heat-absorbing walls.


    When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you probably don't realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use. It literally sends your energy dollars right up the chimney along with volumes of warm air. A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. Your heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.

    Fireplace Tips

    • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.

    • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

    • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly - approximately 1 inch - close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.

    • Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.

    • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.

    • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

    • Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

    Natural Gas and Oil Heating Systems

    If you plan to buy a new heating system, ask your local utility or state energy office for information about the latest technologies available to consumers. They can advise you about more efficient systems on the market today. For example, many newer models incorporate designs for burners and heat exchangers that result in higher efficiencies during operation and reduce heat loss when the equipment is off. Consider a sealed combustion furnace; they are both safer and more efficient. Check the shopping guide in the back of this booklet for additional information on how to understand heating system ratings.
    • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Install a new energy-efficient furnace to save money over the long term. Look for the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide labels.

    Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

    Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are highly recommended in homes with fuel-burning appliances, such as natural gas furnaces, stoves, ovens, and water heaters, and fuel burning space heaters. An alarm signals homeowners if CO reaches potentially dangerous levels.

    Programmable Thermostats

    You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

    Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, the equipment doesn't operate as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR.

    Source: EERE Energy Savers

    Feel free to post your ideas below!

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    Tip: Save Heating Costs by Closing Off Rooms

    To save on heating costs, we close off the rooms that we're not using during the daytime by cutting off the heating system in those rooms and closing the doors. Before bedtime, we open the doors or turn the heat back on. This saves us quite a bit on electric bill.

    By Vadith from Burnsville, NC

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    Tip: Leave Shower Water in Tub to Harvest Warmth

    To save on heating fuel in the winter, insert the drain plug in the tub when showering and leave it in afterward until the water is cool. It adds warmth as well as humidity to your home. It's such an easy thing to do! Do not do if you have little ones around who could get into the tub.

    By Anne L from Green Bay, WI

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    Article: Strategies for Saving Money on Heat

    Last year I did an experiment. Would heating with an electric room heater in each room be more expensive than heating with my gas furnace? I found out the electric heaters are much more expensive than turning up my thermostat on my gas heater. So if you're chilly, you can forget the electric heaters, just turn up the thermostat 1-2 degrees.

    More tips for keeping warm:

    • Wear layers. Wear a T-shirt under your sweater.

    • Wear a hat. I have a thin knit hat which is just right for indoors. I also like the hoody sweatshirts because they cover your neck and head.

    • Wear long underwear indoors. Your $9 long underwear will pay for itself in less than one season.

    • Exercise. Do 50 jumping jacks each time you get cold. This warms you up and is good for you. Or do sit-ups, push-ups, or something similar. Ride an indoor bike or do a stair stepper. I bought a portable stair stepper, it's perfect for my small house. It's only the size of a phonebook.

    • Put foam on the windows to keep out chills. That plastic sheet works, but only a little. Foam works great. If you don't like the look, decorate it! First, put some type of paper over it, like contact paper, then paint that. Many paints will dissolve foam. The pink foam works better than the white polystyrene.

    • Don't forget to insulate the exterior wall switch plates and outlets. Buy those foam shapes for your switches and outlets, remove the cover, place over the switch/outlet, and replace the cover.

    • Check your exterior door edging. This is usually a rubber or foam thing that goes around the edge of the door to keep out drafts. They do wear out and need to be replaced about every 5 years.

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    Article: Fast Fuel Savings

    thermostatA winter storm is quickly approaching and you listen to the roar of the furnace as it works to heat your home. With every cold snap you count pennies burning away in your home's heating system. While an upgrade is in the future, right now in the hours before the storm, there's nothing you can do to save on heating. Or is there? Try these quick and free fixes for energy conservation.

    Rearrange the furniture.

    Note the location of your vents and radiators. Do you have a large sofa backed against the baseboard? Is a throw rug covering your floor vent? If so, rearrange your furniture to allow for maximum heat circulation, and don't allow furniture to block or trap warm air from your vents and baseboards. Be mindful of "trapped corners" made by end tables and chairs which don't block vents but create a box around the vent, limiting the circulation of its heat.

    Clean up.

    Dust deters the full radiation of heat from radiators. When they're not hot from a recent furnace flare, wipe them clean. Make a point to dust them regularly or use the brush attachment of your vacuum to keep the dust from building up in the recesses of the pipes. Baseboard radiators have the same problem, so get out the duster or vacuum attachments and suck cash from your radiators.

    Shut it.

    There are various places that allow warm air to escape your home. In a quick sweep of the house, you can shut these trap doors. Close kitchen and bathroom vents and fans when they're not in use or invest in a magnetic cover for the vent. Fireplace dampers should also be closed when not in use. Infrequently used rooms, basement doors, and closet doors should be kept closed as well. There is no need to heat your coat closet, so keep the door closed and allow that warm air to go elsewhere. The same applies to your spare bedroom. The room will stay warm enough thanks to its heating element; keep the circulating warm air in the rooms that are used the most.

    Let the sun shine.

    Provided you don't have drafty windows which are protected with heavy drapes, pull back your curtains during the afternoon sun. The invading sunlight not only will help to curb the winter doldrums which affect people during the shortest days of the year but it will also heat the room a few degrees. If privacy is a concern, invest in sheers which block the clear view but allow sunlight to pass through during the day.

    Now that you've done a few fix-ups you can relax by the window and watch the snowfall knowing that your heating bill will soon fall as well.

    By Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

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    Article: Tips to Lower Your Heating Bill

    Fall is a great time for a home-energy audit, and there are a surprising number of ways to save energy in your home without investing a major amount of money-or even time.

    By Ellen Brown

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    Tip: Buy Heating Fuel in the Summer

    Buy the fuel that you heat your home with during the winter in the summertime. It'll be cheaper then!

    By Terri

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    Tip: Buy Now to Save Money on Heating Fuel

    If you use fuel oil for heating, have your tank topped off now, the price will be more expensive when you need it in the heating season.

    I am on the budget plan and am locked into $1.349 per gallon until July. I am also on automatic fill up, too.

    With gasoline prices getting out of sight now, you can imagine what the oil prices will be!

    By Syd

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    Here are questions related to Saving Money on Heating Costs.

    Question: Covering Windows With Plastic to Reduce Heating Bills

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me approximately how much money they've saved on heating bills by putting plastic in the windows to keep drafts out? I know this will depend on a lot of things, but I'm just trying to see if this is worth doing.

    I'm on the 2nd floor of a two family house built in the early 1930s. I suspect the windows are the originals. I have a gas furnace that is probably at least 10 years old. I live in Upstate New York where it is pretty much cold and snowy from November through April.

    By Kitschqueen from Syracuse, NY

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    Most Recent Answer

    By john 1 10/13/2009

    If my windows do not leak, is there still a benefit from putting plastic over them in the winter? John

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: How Can I Reduce My Heating Costs?

    I seldom turn up my house heat yet the cost is my biggest expense; how can I reduce it? (I've done all the obvious.)

    By Kay from Babylon, NY

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No


    Most Recent Answer

    By Paula Jo C. 24 252 03/23/2011

    Invest in a couple of (hot steam) vaporizers like I have done...and boil water to put additonal steam into the air...moist air feels better to the skin then cold air.

    Also then invest in a dehumidifier to run while the vaporizer is running so that mold and mildew will not build up in your home's walls & ceilings, including carpet or on your windows panes of glass.

    You can find both of these items at your local area Good Will or Salvation Army Stores for around $5 each... or purchase them both brand new for under $100.

    They will save you money in the long run I promise! I have been doing this for years and live in a mobile home.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Rising Heating Costs

    We have propane heat. Heating costs are suppossed to go up by 70% this year. What are simple things that we can do to save money but keep our home warm?


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    Most Recent Answer

    By Cyxbyq 1 12/18/2014

    As a bachelor, I hate to heat the entire house when I am in one room for hours. I have found using a space heater saves money. It is more economical than turning the thermostat up, running a large furnace (220v) and burning natural gas for the entire house. Set the house thermostat lower to your comfort. I live in West PA where there is a glut of natural gas but prices go up every March. It is obvious we are being hosed.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No