Like it or not, winter is here (unless you live in Florida). And you know what that means—it’s time to brace yourself (and your budget) for a crazy high heating bill. Ugh. It’s no secret that paying to keep your whole house warm isn’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save on your heating bill. And nope, we’re not just talking about keeping the heat off all winter long and wearing seven layers of clothing (there’s always one of those people in the house). So, grab a blanket and get to saving with these 11 tips!
11 Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
1. Seal up air leaks.
Let’s do some detective work here. Ready? It’s time to hunt down those annoying air leaks. Check out your walls, windows, ceilings, doors, light fixtures, outlets and switches for any escaping air. Look for things like holes, gaps and weather stripping that’s falling apart.
When giving your windows the once-over, you can even do the ol’ candle test. All you have to do is light a candle and hold the flame near the windows (but don’t burn down the curtains!). If you see the flame flicker, it could mean there’s an air leak.
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If you do have a leak on your hands, fixing it isn’t too hard—really. Just buy some cheap caulking and weather stripping and seal up those leaks. It’s not glamorous, but it’s an easy fix that will save you up to 20% on your heating bill.1
2. Program the thermostat.
Making small changes on the thermostat can make a big difference in lowering your heating bill. You can save as much as 10% a year if you drop your thermostat down 7–10 degrees for eight hours a day.2
Going to be at work all day? Turn down the thermostat. Gone all day for a soccer tournament? Turn down the thermostat. Headed out of town for the weekend? You guessed it—turn down the thermostat.
All of this back and forth might get on your nerves after a while (we don’t blame you). So if you want to make your life a lot easier, invest in a smart thermostat. You can program it to make the changes for you (some even let you control them from an app). And you know what? They’re not super pricey either. Just make sure you budget for the new thermostat if it’s something you want to add to your home.
3. Let the light in.
When the sun comes out, open your blinds and let the vitamin D in. The sunlight in your windows can give you some serious heat the old-fashioned way. And if your house is already warm, then the heat won’t have to kick in—and you won’t have to cringe every time it does. Win-win. Just don’t forget to go ahead and cover the windows to help keep the cold air out once it gets dark.
4. Shut doors in unused rooms.
Are you never in the upstairs guest bathroom during the day? Then go ahead and shut the door. Everyone knows what turning off the lights when you leave a room does for your electric bill (hint: it lowers it).
The same goes for closing the door when you leave a room. It lowers your heating bill too. Why? Well, with the door shut, the heat will hang out in the room, so your HVAC system won’t have to keep pumping out warm air. It’s one simple (but genius) hack to help save on your heating bill.
5. Wear warm clothing.
This is the perfect time of year to live in those thick flannel pj’s you love so much. Wearing warmer clothing indoors will keep you from cranking up the heat too much. And when it’s cold out, who doesn’t love hanging out in warm, cozy socks?
While you’re at it, head to the kitchen, whip up your favorite hot beverage, and enjoy. The warmer you feel inside the house, the less work the heating unit will have to do. The big secret to save on your heating bill? Your fuzzy Sherpa slippers, that’s what.
6. Get cooking.
As if you needed another reason to get in the baking and cooking mood when it’s chilly out. Well, here’s one more.
On a cold day, nothing warms up the stomach (and the soul) like some homemade food. But here’s the best part—you can heat up your house just by using the oven, and if the house is warm already, then your heat won’t have to kick in. You can even prop open the oven door to let out that heat once you’re done baking—just be sure there aren’t any tiny curious hands nearby (we see you, sneaky 2-year-olds everywhere!).
Yeah, turning on the oven will cost you a little bit of electricity, but if you’re already planning on cooking anyway, why not use that extra heat to your advantage?
7. Buy curtains and shades.
Nothing stings like having your hard-earned dollars fly right out the window—literally. About 30% of heating loss in a home happens through the windows.3 But did you know that thick curtains and shades can help you keep the warm air in? So, if you’re worried about drafty windows, just invest in a curtain or two.
8. Replace the filters.
You know those pesky filters no one likes to deal with? Well, they matter. And they can actually help you save money on your heating bill at the end of the month. So do the thing. Change the filter. And follow what the instructions say about how often you need to change them out.
You can even set a reminder on your phone to let you know when it’s time to change the filter. That will help you keep saving money as time goes on.
9. Use ceiling fans.
Yep, you read that right—using your ceiling fans can help you save on your heating bill costs. Here’s the catch though: You’ve got to get that fan to spin clockwise instead of counterclockwise (the setting most people keep it at in the summer months to cool off a room).
Heat rises, but if that heat stays up at the top of the room, it does you no favors. By switching the direction your fan moves, you’ll help all that trapped heat move down. And there’s your science lesson for the day.
Fixing your fan is pretty simple—you can usually change this setting on the ceiling fan itself (look for a little switch on the base of the fan). And remember to keep the fan on the lowest setting too.
10. Pay attention to the fireplace.
It might be tempting to light the fireplace in hopes that it’ll help you save on heating bill costs. And it can. But that heat is probably only filling up one room (the room the fireplace is in) and not spreading the wealth to the entire house. It sounds backward, but using the fireplace can sometimes make the rest of your house colder—and that’s bad news for your heating bill.
And even when you’re not using the fireplace, it can still be a major heat suck with hot air escaping through the chimney. So make sure the damper is closed, and put up a draft guard to cover the opening of the fireplace. Just a few small tweaks can go a long way in keeping all the hot air inside instead of letting it float away.
11. Use a space heater.
If your bathroom feels like an igloo when you hop out of the shower in the winter months, don’t crank up the heat. Just bring out the space heater instead. It’ll help warm the room you’re in instead of heating up the whole house.
Two other really weird tricks that work? Leave the bathroom door propped open a bit so that warm air from the shower spills out into the next room, and don’t turn on the bathroom fan (it’ll zap the room of all that precious heat).
Save on Your Heating Bill, and Give Your Budget Some Breathing Room
Sure, keeping your home warm in the winter can really be a drain on your wallet, but if you put a few of these tricks to work, you’ll be able to score some savings and stick it to Old Man Winter.
Now the real question is—what will you do with those dollars you save? Don’t just let them sit in your bank account, waiting to get spent on some spur-of-the-moment impulse buy (like more Sherpa socks). Put the money you save to work with your budget and tackle your goals! It’s easy to stay on top of your heating bill and savings with our free budgeting tool, EveryDollar.
So start budgeting, start using these tips, and start saving.