Saving Money on Heating Your Home

Tips 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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

Ducts

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.

Fireplaces

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!

December 7, 20070 found this helpful

ok. i am sitting here loaded with clothing and blankets. i am freezing. have a heat pump that i have just turned up the thing because it is so cold in here. i think it is about 20 outside. i live alone and dont know how to check the doors for the weather stripping. i put up the plastic sheeting only on 1 window so far. i have blankets at every place i sit. and an electric heated pad in the bed. i cant get warm. but then i go to work and roast---we have gas heat at work. so i go from frozen toes and fingers to sweaty. what do i do?? --- i have a electric space heater and a radiator space heater--which i am going to turn on right now. good night.

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December 7, 20070 found this helpful

It has been cold everywhere this year. I use a Woodstove and small space heaters in each bedroom. Also use electric blankets at night. Put clear packing tape around your windows to keep drafts out, and wrap unused heating registers in plastic to keep out cold air. Also make sure you have curtains over the windows as this keeps warm air in and cold air out. Wear thick socks. These few tips have helped keep us warm.

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December 10, 20070 found this helpful

All the advice about stopping heat loss by sealing up cracks around windows and outside doors is very sound, but if you have a solid fuel stove in a room, please make sure there is adequate fresh air input to that room. Some years ago I lost practically a whole family of my patients because of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly serviced coal burning stove. Needless to say they didn't have a CO monitor.

If you do block off a chimney flue for any length of time you can get condensation in there, leading to damp problems in adjacent walls. Better to leave flue dampers open just a crack to allow "trickle ventilation".

Indeed, I think some ventilation throughout the house is important even in winter. After all, breathing, cooking, bathing and washing create moisture in the air which will condense out on any cold surface such as a poorly insulated wall, especially behind furniture where room air circulation may be sluggish. These damp spots then act as breeding grounds for moulds: unsightly and sometimes the source of allergens in the form of their spores.

I have heard heating engineers say "whenever you insulate, you must also ventilate".

All the above applies to the U.K. Systems in North America may well be very different. If I'm talking through my hat, please let me know!

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Thermostat
Saving Money on Heating Costs
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Home and Garden Home Improvement HeatingDecember 7, 2007
Guides
family Warming Feet by Fire
Winter Heating Tips
Wood Burning Stove
Heating with Wood
Insulating Your Home, Insulation Ready to Be Installed
Insulating Your Home
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Energy Efficient Home Heating Options
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