How to Save on Heating Bills: 8 Affordable Tips & Tricks
If you’re worried about saving money on heating bills this winter, you’re not alone.
In fact, Americans can expect to spend anywhere between $500 to $1,500 on home heating costs this winter, an increase over last year’s spending for many households.
To make the most of your energy spending during the colder months, check out these small, easy-to-do tweaks around the house that can help you cut your heating bill in half
8 simple tips to save money on heating bills this season:
1. Turn up the heat only when necesarry.
Whether you’re headed to work or out of town for the weekend, there’s no sense in heating an empty house. If you’re on your way out the door, lowering the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from your usual setting for 8 hours a day can lower your heating and cooling bills by 10 percent annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
However, never turn your heat all the way off during the cold-weather months. If your home becomes too cold, the pipes could freeze and burst. To protect yourself from a major plumbing disaster, keep your heat at or above 55 degrees during the winter.
Admittedly, lowering the heat all day was easier to do for most prior to the new work-from-home era. But you can still make a dent in your heating bill by keeping your thermostat as low as you can stand, either during the day or while you sleep – just remember to invest in a warm pair of socks.
2. Bundle up.
Like we said: if you’re working from home and still want to attempt the first tip, you’ll need to layer up.
Here are a few must-have winter items to have on hand if you’re trying to save money on heating bills while working from home:
- Thermal undershirt and leggings: Form-fitting thermal leggings and shirts can provide a solid, heat-trapping base for your cold-weather work-from-home attire.
- Turtlenecks or sweaters: Throw a smart turtle neck or V-neck wool sweater over your thermals to stay stylish and snug on your conference calls.
- Fleece- or flannel-lined jeans: Afraid of getting caught in sweats during your Zoom status meeting? Keep it classy and cozy with a pair of jeans lined with fleece or flannel.
- Hiking socks: Even if you’re more of an “indoor person”, hiking socks are a great way to keep your feet warm if you’re keeping the heat lower. Find a pair made of merino wool with heavy cushioning for extra warmth.
- Heated blankets: Perks of WFH life – you don’t need to be C-level for a heated desk chair. Drape one of these over your seat to stay comfortable and productive throughout the day.
3. Check or seal your windows.
When it comes to home heat loss, windows are some of the biggest culprits.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, inefficient windows cause up to 25 to 30 percent of home heating and cooling losses annually.
Improving your windows’ efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce heating bills in the winter. You can prevent heat loss from your windows by:
- Applying tinted window film.
- Using window caulk to seal gaps.
- Keeping the curtains closed.
- Using an insulating window snake on the sill.
4. Use draft stoppers on exterior doors.
Wondering how to curb that nasty draft coming from your foyer? Draft stoppers are an easy way to prevent heat loss from your home’s entryways and keep your winter heating bills lower.
There are several different types of draft stoppers, and the best one will depend on your door’s construction.
Here are three basic types of draft blockers to consider:
- Under-door: As the name suggests, these slip under your door, and come in a variety of styles, materials and levels of durability. They tend to work best over smooth-surface floors, like tile or hardwood, and thresholds that are flush with the floor itself.
- Magnetic: Draft blockers with a magnetic strip are ideal for steel or other metal exterior doors. They are some of the simplest to use and install, and can easily be moved up or down to cover almost any-size gap at the bottom of your door.
- Door Snake: These are tubes made of fabric, filled with batting or other insulating material. Door snakes are ideal for doors with large gaps at the bottom. They are most effective when trying to prevent heat loss while you are in your home, as you must lay them across the bottom of the door each time you want to use them.
Pro Tip: If you don’t feel like buying one, making a DIY door snake is easy. Simply roll up a large towel or blanket, wrap the ends with rubber bands, and lay it at the foot of your door.
5. Use energy-efficient space heaters.
The right electric heater can help reduce your heating bills drastically in the winter. But which space heater is best? It all depends on your specific heating routine and the space you’re trying to heat.
Trying to heat an entire room with a space heater can get expensive, so for maximum savings, choose one with a lower wattage and keep it close to you. Most space heaters use around 1500W, but some use as low as 750W.
To give you an idea of the difference this can make in costs, check out the table below:
|Duration & Costs||750W space heater||1500W space heater|
|Watts used over 8 hours||6,000W||12,000W|
|Cost to run for 8 hours||$0.80||$1.60|
|Monthly cost at 8 hours/day||$24||$48|
Price per kWh can vary by location – find your local electricity rates today.
For perspective, the average monthly cost to keep a home at an average of 70 degrees is around $191**.
Changing the average home temperature to 65 degrees lowers that monthly heating bill to around $121.
With the added cost of a supplemental, energy-efficient space heater, total monthly heating costs would be around $146 – a $45 savings each month.**Natural gas costs calculated using the average U.S. residential cost per MCF of 17.6 cents (2020), and the median U.S. new house size of 2,300 square feet (2019).
Price per kWh can vary by location – find your local natural gas rates today.
6. Close cabinet and closet doors.
Tired of telling your significant other to shut the cabinets after using them? Let them know it’s costing you on heating bills.
Cabinets and closets are often situated on exterior walls. Because these are the coldest walls in the house, closing cabinet and closet doors can create a barrier between the frigid outdoors and your home’s cozy interior. This can help keep rooms like your kitchen or bathroom more comfortable and lessen the need to crank the heat.
7. Do not close vents and doors to unused rooms.
While closing your closets and cabinets can help you spend less on heating bills, closing vents and doors to interior rooms can have the opposite effect.
It’s a common misconception that shutting vents and closing doors to unused rooms can reduce heating costs by lessening the total area needing to be warmed. But according to a study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, shutting vents and doors to close off certain rooms can throw off the pressure balance of your HVAC system and actually cause increased energy usage.
For this reason, keep your doors at least partially open throughout the day. If certain rooms are consistently much colder than others, try improving your existing windows first – curtains and window caulk may make a big difference. If that doesn’t help, consult an HVAC expert to find out why the heat isn’t making it to those rooms.
8. Be smart with your fireplace.
Fun fact: not all fireplaces will save you money on heating bills. In fact, some can end up costing you more.
While electric and natural gas fireplaces tend to be fairly efficient from an energy perspective, wood-burning fireplaces are one of the most inefficient methods to heat a home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To give you an idea, electric fireplaces convert about 99 percent of their energy into heat that warms your home, and gas fireplaces convert 77 percent or more. Wood-burning fireplaces convert just 15 to 30 percent of the wood’s energy into heat. Plus, if your fireplace is vented through a chimney, it could be sucking loads of precious warm air from all corners of your home with every burn, potentially freezing out your bedrooms and sending your furnace into overdrive.
Before you try to cut heating costs via your fireplace, check out these tips to help increase its efficiency:
- When starting a fire, crack the nearest window to your fireplace. This will allow the fire to take in air from the immediate area, instead of sapping your home of its pre-warmed air.
- Only burn wood that is properly dried (or “seasoned”) with less than 20 percent moisture. Wet wood can create smoke, which means lost heat. Moisture meters are available at most hardware stores and can cost between $15 - $30 or so.
- When burning a fire, lower the temperature of your thermostat to prevent your furnace from kicking on unnecessarily.
- If you have a vented fireplace (gas or wood-burning), make sure the flue is closed when not in use. Leaving this open is like leaving a window wide open – it’ll suck the warm air right out of your living room. After a fire, be sure to close the glass doors while the flue is still open and the heat is dying down.
Search energy rates to keep heating bills lower and more predictable
So, now you know: drafty doors, wonky windows and flaky fireplaces can all prevent you from having a comfortable and affordable cold-weather season. But to make your energy-saving efforts go the extra mile this winter, make sure that your gas and electric rates are as low as they possibly can be.
PriceToCompare.com allows you to shop local electricity and natural gas rates from dozens of suppliers, side by side, so you’ll know you’re getting the best rate on energy. Plus, you can protect yourself from seasonal price hikes by selecting a fixed-rate plan, making heating bills more predictable from month to month.
Explore energy rates in your area to see if you’re making the most of every penny spent on heating costs.