Winter Heating Tips

Ten Inexpensive Ways To Reduce Your Winter Heating Bill

  1. Turn down the thermostat. You can save 3 to 5% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat. Turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work, and again when you go to bed. Recommended winter setting: 68° in the daytime, 55° at night.
  2. Use fans wisely. In just 1 hour, a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air. Turn them off as soon as they've done their job.
  3. Keep the fireplace damper closed. Heat rises, and an open damper is like a hole in the roof. Also, limit use of the fireplace, since fires actually suck heat from a room.
  4. Close off seldom-used rooms and shut the vents inside. Shut the doors of seldom-used rooms and close their vents. Also, in other rooms, make sure vents are not blocked by rugs and furniture
  5. Turn down the water heater. The water heater is the second-largest energy user in most homes. Hot water heaters have adjustable thermostats. For every 10°F you lower the water temperature, you can save 3 to 5% of your water heating energy. Lowering the temperature of a water heater to 115 to 120 degrees reduces power use without a noticeable difference.
  6. Insulate water heater and pipes. Covering your water heater with an insulated "jacket" ($17 to $20) will keep costs down, especially if your heater is in an unheated place like a garage. A water heater blanket can save 5 to 10% of the energy it consumes.
  7. Use curtains. Opening curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space; closing all curtains at night helps retain that heat. A drape can reduce heat lost through a window by 1-third. An insulated drape can reduce it by half. Drapes save energy effectively only if they fit tightly against the window and the floor.
  8. Block leaks. Plugging the small gaps surrounding windows and doors can save you up to 10% on your heating bill. Use door sweeps for exterior doors, and caulk or tacky rope caulk to block around window frames. Apply weather stripping to movable joints.
  9. Winterize windows. If you can't afford storm windows, put plastic film on those windows where a clear view isn't crucial. This will curb drafts and keep windows from rattling.
  10. Keep your furnace in shape. Replace the air filter ($4 to $16) according to manufacturer's directions and your heating system will operate more efficiently. Oil-fired boilers should be cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every 2 years ($100 to $125).