Family Home Money Saving Tips

How to Save Money on Heating Costs

Save Money On Heating Costs
Written by Oana Schneider

When the first snowflake hits the ground, that is as good a signal as any that your heating appliances at home will start working overtime. No matter what the size of your house is, your utmost priority should be to keep it warm during the winter season.

This also means that your utility bills will most likely be on the rise. 50% of your utility bills come from heating and cooling costs so if you have less than efficient heating appliances at home, expect your utility bills to significantly increase. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to save money on heating costs – starting from something as simple as wearing more clothes to keep you warm, to more complex ways like switching to energy-saving heating appliances.

How Much Do You Spend on Heating?

Before counting down the ways through which you can save on heating at home, let us first take a quick look at how much is actually spent for this aspect of your household maintenance. As mentioned earlier, 50% of your utility bills go towards heating and cooling. This means that during both cold and warm season, around half of your electrical consumption will come from the workings of the heating appliances.

The Independent Statistics & Analysis website of the US Energy Information Administration predicted that heating costs for most household will rise as compared to last year’s winter’s level. Of the 116 million homes in the US, over 90% are expected to spend more on heating costs for the winter season of October 2013 to March 2014. The main reason is the higher projected prices of residential propane, natural gas and electricity. Here are other interesting statistics published on EIA’s site:

  • The most common source of heating fuel used in the average American home is natural gas. This is followed by electricity, heating oil, propane, wood and kerosene.
  • An average home, using natural gas for heating will spend around $680 this winter. This is a 13% increase from the average over last year’s winter.
  • Homes that use propane will spend around $1,600; those who rely on electric heat need to shell out $900; while those who use heating oil will spend more than $2,000.

If the experts in energy already predict a rise in heating costs for the average home in the US, that’s all the more reason for you to implement ways to save on heating costs. Even if you have sufficient funds to pay for an astronomical bill, there’s no reason why you should do so.  Observing energy saving techniques will also help you do your share in helping save the environment by reducing your home’s carbon emission.

Always check the room temperature

Always check the room temperature

Creative Ways to Save Money on Heating Costs

Now, what are the specific ways through which you can save money on heating costs? Take a look at the following list:

Dress warmly for the winter – and ‘dress up’ your home, too!

This may sound like a given but not dressing warmly for the winter – even inside your home – will cost you in terms of increased utility bills. Even if the fireplace offers you that toasty warmth, the heat may not necessarily reach your bedroom.

Put on layers of clothes, and make sure that your legs and feet are warm. It wouldn’t hurt to dress up your home for the winter, too. Replace those thin blankets with thick, warm comforters.

Better yet, purchase electric blankets for all members of the family. Flannel sheets placed over mattresses are also weather-appropriate. Bring out those winter rugs and replace thin curtains with thick drapes. Putting warm blankets on your sofa would also help you cosy up while watching some late night TV. The colder it is outside, the warmer the accessories inside your home should be.

Think of ways to cut back on your utility bills.

Based on EIA’s chart, natural gas is the most common source of heating fuel in the US. Other energy sources used for heating are electricity, heating oil, propane, wood and kerosene. If you live in a state where gas prices are low compared to the rest of the country, then you should definitely use gas for heating.

If you have a house near the forest where you can gather lots of wood, use that as your primary source of heat. You can install a wood burning stove for cooking, or use it to light up your fireplace at night. If you just moved to a new place, ask a neighbour what their primary source of heating fuel is, so that you can follow suit.

Consider investing in solar energy.

As you may already know, investing in solar panels eventually pays off. You can use it for lighting, heating and running other electrical appliances inside your home. However, do make sure that your area is getting enough sunlight per year to make the investment worth it. Otherwise, look for alternative sources of renewable energy.

If you have a swimming pool, you should definitely invest in a solar water heater because its cost savings will pay off on the long run.

Make adjustments to your thermostat.

Even turning down the temperature on your thermostat by one degree will help you save money on heating costs. Just imagine the cost savings that you will incur by turning it down a few more notches. Remember that the temperature variation near the thermostat affects the whole house, so it should be placed in an area that’s neither too hot nor too cold.

If possible, install an automatic timer to keep the thermostat at a constant temperature during the day and at night. Make sure you’re wearing warm clothes inside the house too, because if it’s too warm, you are most likely wasting lots of money on electricity for heating.

Are your windows, doors and roofs properly insulated?

Before the winter season arrives, make sure to take the time to check on the insulation of your home’s windows, doors and roofs. If you have a ten-year-old window which lets in much of the draft during the winter season, it’s probably time to replace them. There are storm or thermal windows that you can have installed in the coldest areas in your house, particularly the attic and rooms with an open back area.

You can also have storm doors installed before the winter season officially starts.

A way to let in the heat from the sun’s rays is to open up the draperies and shades – at least when the sun is shining at its brightest. Weather stripping your doors and windows is another way for you to keep the inside of your home warm. Use window sealants – they’re cheap and easy to install. If you see any cracks or holes where heat might escape, have them repaired immediately.

For older homes, it might be a good idea to upgrade the insulation just to make sure you are not spending any more than you have to on heating costs.

Wear a pair of warm socks

Wear a pair of warm socks

Make sure your furnace is in tiptop shape.

When was the last time you had it serviced? For a small fee, you can have a representative from a gas or oil company come in to check on the condition of your furnace. If you want to do it yourself, make sure all the parts are clean, the air filters are replaced if necessary, and see to it that the warm air is not obstructed by dust or dirt. If there are cracks along the boundary of your fireplace, caulk it to make sure no warm air escapes.

Use the fireplace to keep your home warm.

Nothing depicts the winter season better than the whole family camped up in front of the fireplace. However, it can be a way for warm air to escape, too, so make sure to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.

Know how to save heating costs in the kitchen.

There are plenty of ways for you to save on heating costs while preparing meals for your family. When heating liquids, cover the container. Do not use oversized pots or pans when cooking a small amount of food because this simply wastes precious heat inside the kitchen. Thaw frozen meats before cooking, and use the microwave instead of the stove when reheating food.

Additional ways to save money on heating costs.

If you want, you can call your local electric company and ask them if there’s a difference between electricity rates during the daytime or night-time. If the answer is yes, do most of your chores during the time of day, when electricity rates are cheaper. You can also ask them about additional ways for you to save money on your heating bills.

By following these tips, you can minimize your electricity costs without compromising on the heat contained inside your home during winter.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

41 Comments

  • Our heat is included in rent so I never think of it. I know my sister is in a 1 story house with only 3 bedrooms, kitchen, bath, living room and hallway and their spending $400 a month in cost to heat the home, yikes. They did pickup some heaters but not sure that will help much. My parents never turned our furnace on in the winter we lived off of wood heat and it was pretty amazing and cosey.

    • Pellet stoves that work on wood pellets are incredible. We’ve had one in our past houses, and they can heat a home pretty well without costing too much money. I think we must have run that thing all throughout the winter, and whenever it became too cold inside, too. I recommend them for anyone else that doesn’t already have one.

  • After you’ve made insulation improvements and other changes to your home, you should realize that you could be a little less warm throughout the winter. People often spend hundreds heating their homes more than they need to with the heater or furnace or whatever. It’s as simple as dropping the temperature a couple degrees and using a blanket. The lower the temperature, the higher the savings.

  • These are great tips! We turn the thermostat down 2 degrees overnight since we are all snuggled in our warm beds and don’t need the extra heat. Plus keeping bedroom doors closed at night will keep the heat in the room instead of letting it flow throughout the rest of the house where no one will benefit from it overnight. During the day on especially chilly days, we like to turn on a small portable kerosene heater to keep the rooms we are in a little bit warmer. We place it within 12 feet or so of our thermostat, so it helps keep the temperature steady near the thermostat so the furnace does not need to kick on as often either.

  • Great tips! Saving on heating is important both for your pocketbook but also to reduce carbon emissions. Here’s something for the bottom of your door where the draught comes in that I came across a few years ago and which several of my friends have tried – they love it! Inexpensive to make and so cute. My boyfriend’s mother has even named hers! I used an old stocking of mine that had a few too many runs and coloured it in with marker. 😀

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/05/how-to-make-draught-excluder

  • I would definitely say that it’s a good idea to wear more clothes. However, don’t just put them all in the washing machine every day, because this means that you will be using the energy that you’ve saved by washing more! I wear several layers, and will wash the bottom layer, because that’s the only one that’s actually been in contact with my body at all. Even if you feel silly, wear a pair of gloves in the house, because there’s just no need at all to use the heating when you have other ways of keeping warm. It is just wasting money for no reason, and I have to say that a lot of people are certainly guilty of doing it.

  • These are good advices. I would add some to yours: Use towels under door cracks for the entrance and any windows you may have open around the house, even for small cracks. You won’t believe how much heating you will save this way. Also naturally always wearing socks and a sweater inside your home will save up some. I would recommend one extra thing: Don’t shower during night time, only at precisely noon when the ambient is much hotter and you won’t feel the cold blow to your face right as you leave the bathroom.

  • I really appreciate you talking about this! I know it is not winter time yet, but every winter, my heating bill goes up a ton. And this year, I want to do all I can to prevent the from happening. I really appreciate you talking about this, and giving me some tips on how to lower the cost of heating during the cold months. I’ll definitely try these out, and see if they work for me.

  • I didn’t think that so many people had kerosene fuel for there home. I thought it was just gas on electricity that they were using. I am guessing that new homes are the ones that don’t have the kerosene fuel.

  • My heating bill always goes way up during the winter months. And of course it is going to go up, but I really want to make sure I start doing things now to help prevent it from going higher then it needs to. so I really appreciate you talking about this Oana, and giving me some great tips on how to save. I really hope they work for me.

  • When saving on heating costs, my thoughts are to maybe build a fireplace inside the home especially one that comes with propane. It’s something that I’ve been looking into as well as a propane delivery service to deliver some propane for me. Now that winter is coming soon I would want to warm up my house in an affordable way.

  • I didn’t know that homes using natural gas for home heating will spend that much money this year! We use natural gas in my home and that’s a lot of money. Thanks for the information and tips! I like the idea of dressing warmer, even in your home. I’m going to try that!

  • I had no idea that oil heating compared to electric and gas that way. It doesn’t seem like we spend that much. But we also dress warmly around our home. Slippers on our feet and sweaters go a long way towards making us feel more comfortable in the cold!

  • These are a lot of great ideas to help save a little bit of money on heating during the winter time, especially the one about adjusting your thermostat. If your house is properly insulated and even dressed up a little warmer as well, you can usually afford to lower the thermostat a bit because the house is already maintaining the warmth inside. My family and I also try to do a lot of cooking at home in the wintertime as well as the residual heat from the stove can really warm up a small house.

  • I insulate my house as well as I can, and try to keep the thermostat on the lower side of comfortable (and turn it down quite a bit during the day when I’m at work), but I never thought to have my furnace checked out. What with all the inactive sitting around it does for most of the year, I’m sure it gets pretty dusty and dirty, not to mention that I’m sure the air filters are no where near as clean as they need to be. I’ll try getting it serviced this winter and hopefully it will help bring my bills down. Thanks!

  • Thank you for the tip on using electric blankets. The heating in my home really needs to be updated. I’ll have to try all of these tips until I can hire a heating contractor!

  • Oana, with winter really coming in I know that my heating costs are going to be higher than they have been and I want to know how I can save on those costs. The tip about getting my furnace serviced seems like a good idea. I can’t even remember the last time it was service. I will have to look into that.

  • I had no idea that heating oil was so much more expensive than all the other heating options. We keep our thermostat fairly low, but have had to raise it this year because we don’t want our baby to be cold at night. I think getting some better insulation, including a storm door on our back door, will be our best bet for saving overall.

  • You know, I used to think that your idea to dress warm in a cold house was overrated. Now, I see it as a smart collaboration with the heater. For example, when the heater gets too warm, you turn down the temperature. Once the temperature drops too much, you put on a jacket until its back to where you want it. I have been using this method lately, and its worked quite nicely.

  • Thanks for your article about how to help save money on heating costs. I like your tip about watching your thermostat. I remember as a kid I would crank up the thermostat as high as it would go and stand on the vent to warm my feet. If you have little ones that can reach the thermostat, this can help you save a lot of money.

  • I agree that dressing warm in your home is not a bad idea. I think it can even be more comfortable. I’m sure doing so decreases utilities bills, as well as the hassle of always trying to get the furnace temperature warm enough.

  • I like your suggestion to place your thermostat in a place where it won’t be affected by major temperature changes. If a thermostat is placed by a window or the garage, it will register the heat being too low and start running, even if the rest of the house is at a comfortable temperature. If you’re thermostat’s in a bad place and you don’t want to hire a heating contractor to fix it, though, your advice to lower the temperature can help a ton with heating costs. Thanks for all the advice!

  • I absolutely hate being cold, so our heating bill tends to be a bit high during the colder seasons! I like the idea of just wearing warm socks in my home, and having thick blankets around as well, so I’d like to try that out this winter. I think I’d also like to make sure we don’t have any drafts with doors or windows as well. Thank you for these tips!

  • That is smart to consider getting heating appliances that are energy efficient. Getting your heating system repaired is definitely a good way to stay prepared the seasons. Keeping track of your heating prices would be helpful in evaluating how you are saving with energy.

  • Great Share,,,
    Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to keep your hard earned money in your pocket. Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t truly need it – this seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds 10-25 percent to your electric bill.

  • I think it great that we have information available about what heat costs the most/least (oil, electric, gas). I have solar panels on my home and it is my goal to eventually be able to go off the grid, but I like until then being able to find what is the most cost efficient. I will have to share this with my earth aware friends. Thanks for sharing.

    • Share the news Linda! The more people understand how to save money, the better!
      Diana Stan recently posted…20 Free Photo Editing Apps to Make Your Photos Look Fabulous

  • A house with delicate plumbing is really annoying. Before even trying to DIY the repairs it is better to call professionals on this to assure positive results.

  • Heating repairs must be done by good plumbers to minimize more cost and assurance of good work.

  • My Grandpa always tells us to leave a fan on low. He said this will allow air to keep moving all the time and you will not notice it on your utility bill. My parents did it and now I do it with my family. It seems to help move the air around in the house. normally your head is warm and feel cold well it seems to go away when we keep the fan on.

  • No matter what kind of heating and cooling system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.

  • Whenever you have a plumbing problem, it is not bad to diy, if you can fix it. But if you can’t then it’s time to bring the professionals.

  • These are great tips for saving money on heating cost! I liked your first advice about dressing warmly and your house, as we recently unpacked and replaced all of our thin blankets with thick, warm comforters! Thanks for sharing!

  • I like how you mentioned that heating oil is more expensive than propane gas. My husband and I are going to be replacing our furnace, and we want to stick with something non-electric, but we’d still like something more efficient. Perhaps it would be a good idea to switch to propane so we can save a little bit of money over time.

  • A house with delicate plumbing is really annoying. Before even trying to DIY the repairs it is better to call professionals on this to assure positive results.

  • Hey, great share……

    The price of home heating oil has taken quite a big jump these days and there are predictions the price will keep climbing in coming months. Winter weather presents enough challenges, and adding the extra burden of expensive heating bills does not help at all. In such difficult scenario
    I am sure your tips and advice are definitely going to help me out to cut the cost of home heating.

    Thanks for sharing this post as it is quite informative. Keep sharing more…
    Cheers!!

  • Regular maintenance on your system will prolong the life of your air conditioning unit by preventing major breakdowns. Checking the system for any wear on the pump, belts and other parts allows you to keep the system running at peak performance.

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