As temperatures drop and you find yourself reaching for sweaters and more hot coffee, it’s time for you to deliberate, once again, about how to keep those heating bills down without sacrificing your comfort.

Maybe, in the past, you’ve swung between too cold and too expensive. Ready to get off that dizzying ride? You don't have to choose one or the other. There is a middle ground. These money saving tips, along with an examination of some long held myths, will help you find the perfect balance between saving money and staying warm.

Wear More/Warmer Clothes

You’ve probably tried this one before. No amount of clothing will make you feel comfortable if you keep the temperature too low. But wearing layers and/or warmer clothes can help you tolerate a lower (yet moderate) temperature.

Long underwear might seem old fashioned, but the options available today are easy to wear beneath your other clothes without feeling uncomfortable or looking like the Michelin Man. Wool is one of the warmest materials so add that to your wardrobe to keep warm.

Experts say that keeping your feet warm will help your entire body be warmer—something to do with better circulation. Likewise, keeping your wrists warm also helps you feel warmer.

Skylight letting sunshine in.

Let the Sunshine In

Sunlight warms things up quickly. Instead of closing blinds and curtains, let the light in to supplement your heating system. At night close curtains and blinds to keep heat from leaking out.

One way to invite more sunlight into your home is to add skylights. They are an excellent addition to any room for both light and warmth. Even if you’re in a room without direct access to the roof, you can install solar tubes to get light and heat from the sun.

A solar tube runs from the roof to rooms beneath. They are composed of reflective material so the light and heat are preserved, saving you energy and money plus keeping the room warmer.

Long electric fireplace in a large living room.

Use Fireplaces for Zone Heating

Supplementing heat is one of the best ways to keep things warm without inflating the bill. You supplement only when you need it and only in the area you need it.

A fireplace is the perfect way to achieve this extra heat. The most efficient way to do that is with an electric fireplace. Worried that an electric fireplace won’t get the job done? This isn't your grandma’s electric fireplace. More on that here.

Electric fireplaces today are one of the most efficient ways to supplement your home’s heat. They employ technology (like infrared heat) that goes above and beyond traditional fireplaces. Traditional fireplaces also lose a lot of heat out the chimney (not to mention the drafts that can happen when you don’t have a fire going).

It’s also cost effective. The cost of electricity might make you worry, but when you consider all the other costs associated with a fireplace (fuel, cleaning, maintenance, etc.) electric is the least expensive.

Electric fireplaces and space heaters are champs at zone heating. They heat the room or immediate area you are in and allow you to turn down the thermostat. When you turn down the thermostat 8-10 degrees, you can save up to 10% annually on your heating bill.

Double doors open to a white room.

Shut the Doors

Shutting doors to rooms that aren’t currently in use decreases the size of the space to be heated. That makes the space you’re in warmer and decreases energy consumption.

Another similar solution is to install zoned thermostats. You can independently control the temperature in each of the zones. So you can keep the temperature up in spaces you’ll be using and the temperature down in spaces you won’t be using.

Proper attic insulation and wall insulation also goes a long way to help your home keep the heat inside.

Window with frost on the glass pane.

Seal Off Your Home

Though you can’t see it, warm air is leaking out of your home. It leaks out through the roof, doors, windows, etc. The more air that leaks, the harder your heating system has to work to keep you comfortable. The more air you leak, the more it costs to keep your home warm.

Avoid the problem by ensuring doors and windows are weatherstripped or sealed off with silicone caulk. You can place draft stoppers to seal off the bottom of a door and keep cold air drafts out.

Person taking cinnamon rolls out of the oven.

Bake & Cook

A couple hundred years ago, homeowners built kitchens separate from the house or at least as far away from the living quarters as they could because the kitchen heated up the house too much in the summer. We don’t worry about that so much now since most homes have air conditioning. But the concept is still useful in helping keep heating costs down in the winter.

Using your stove top and oven will also help to supplement the heat in your home. This is a great excuse to bake some cookies and cook a casserole for dinner.

White ceiling fan.

Circulate Heat with Fans

Sometimes staying warm is more about circulating warm air than creating more warm air. If your home has a forced air system, this usually isn’t a problem but you can supplement the effect by adding a couple fans to your home to keep the warm air circulating.

Fans are an absolute necessity if you have a fireplace you use to heat (or supplement heat) the house. Some models come with fans, but it never hurts to add another fan to help you direct the air at the optimum spot for circulation.

Don’t forget your ceiling fans. Did you know that ceiling fans are designed to change direction seasonally so you can optimize heating or cooling? The blades are angled to push air either down or up depending on which way the fan is turning: clockwise creates an updraft and counterclockwise creates a downdraft.

This works by the simple concept of hot air rises. You want that hot air down by your toes in the winter so set them clockwise. This will pull cold air up from the floor and displace warm air. The constant movement of air will normalize air temperature throughout the room and keep things warmer without turning the thermostat up.

 

Heating Truth or Fiction

There are a few myths circulating about how best to heat your house and save some money. Some have real, helpful information. Others are plain fiction. Let’s take a look.

Is it cheaper to leave the heat on all day or turn it on only when you’re home?

If you thought the answer to this question was to keep it running all the time, you’d be wrong. Research from Energy.gov has shown that using the heat only when you need it is the best way to save energy and keep costs down.

A smart or programmable thermostat can help you do this easily. Simply set it to a lower temperature for the hours you’ll be away then set it to a higher temperature just before you’ll arrive home after work and you’re all set.

What’s the ideal temperature for comfort and cost savings?

Believe it or not, setting the thermostat as low as you can stand it doesn’t necessarily save you money. Energy.gov says that 68 degrees is the sweet spot. If you can set your thermostat to 68 at least overnight, you can get that 10% savings on your heating bill.


It’s time you were cozy without having to worry about cost. Try some of these tips to make this winter comfortable and enjoyable.

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