Saving Money on Heating Costs

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.

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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?

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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.
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  • 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

Earthships

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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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

We close the bedroom heat vent and keep the door closed. We use extra blankets and we sleep better in a cool room - also healthier, we think. We removed the bedroom carpet years ago & had the hardwood underneath re-finished so its a cold floor but the rest of the house is warm when we get up. Works for us. I vaccuum often but I think the bedroom carpet had to be full of dust mites (yikes) because now my sinuses are clear as a bell.

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January 12, 20090 found this helpful

During the last cold snap (very unusual for S. California!) I heated my work area on one side (the one away from the space heater) by grouping several candles - then I folded an aluminum pie plate behind them to conserve the heat. It heats up and then radiates heat - make sure you have it on a fire-proof stand. It really made a difference and was cheery to boot!

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January 12, 20090 found this helpful

We have our thermostat in the bedroom so at night we close the door and the heat shuts off when our room is warm. Makes no sense to worry about the rooms nobody is in anyway.

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

Although we don't get much cold weather in New Orleans we do get mold on the sides of the window from cold windows. To keep the windows (and house) warmer, I cut foam mattress covers to fit the window, covered them with contractor weight plastic bags and put them on the OUTSIDE of the windows. They're held in by 2 or 3 cheap adjustable curtain rods. They can easily be "burst through" in case we need to escape from a fire.

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January 18, 20090 found this helpful

If you have forced air heating be sure to check the registers on the ceiling. When construction people install them they don't care which way they face, which could end up blowing your warm air right at a cold window. Look and see if turning the vents around can change the direction of air flow. If it can it's a simple matter of unscrewing it, turning it around and screwing it back in. Also, for people with cold hardwood floors even a cheap pair of slippers can make quite an insulator for your feet.

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January 5, 20150 found this helpful

Yes, winter can be so miserable when you live in a leaky building. One of my apartments was that way, and on top of that the cheap heating units gave out. I purchased a heating blanket; that turned out to be a waste of $ as well. What I found that works well, and nobody has mentioned it, is a hot water bottle.

After heating, wrap it in a towel, so you do not burn yourself. A friend recommended microwaving beans as they hold the heat in. I don't think beans work as well as the water, and you also have to remove the beans or any legumes you use from the plastic bag, so sewing skills are needed.

My Canadian grandmother on the other hand told me to keep warm they used a brick heated on low heat in the oven over several hours, again wrap in a towel before taking it to bed.

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