7 Free Ways to Slash Your Winter Heating Bills

by Ryan Guina

winter_landscape.jpg I love fall. The leaves change color, the weather turns cool and crisp, and the holidays bring families together. But fall also means that winter is just around the corner – and rising energy costs are sure to make this an expensive winter unless you do something to reduce your heating bills. These tips will help you save money and resources while staying warm this winter. The best thing about these tips is that they will all save you money, but will not cost you a thing!

Free ways to save money on winter heating bills:

  • Use a lower thermostat setting. You will save up to 3 percent on your heating bill per degree lowered over a 24 hour period (or about 1 percent per 8 hours). During the winter months, we keep our thermostat set at 68 during the day and 55 at night. Lowering the thermostat to 55 degrees while we sleep saves us about 13% on our heating bill. During the rest of the day, we wear warm clothing such as a sweater, long pants, and thick socks or slippers to keep warm. We use a programmable thermostat to make temperature regulation easier and to save money.
  • Seal your chimney flue when not in use . Leaving your chimney flue open when not in use is the same thing as opening your window several inches. You will allow a large quantity of warm air out of your house, and a large quantity of cold air in. You should also make sure your dryer vent closes properly as well.
  • Use fans to circulate air. Set your fan on low to circulate air upward toward the ceiling. This will force the warmer air that rises and gets trapped at the ceiling downward, leaving your house feeling warmer.
  • Keep vents and radiators clear. Ensure your vents are not blocked by rugs or furniture, or that you don’t have any large objects in front of your radiator. This allows the air to circulate freely and you to get the full benefit of the warm air and put less strain on your furnace. This is also safer!
  • Clean vents, radiators, etc. Not only is dust an allergen, it is a wonderful insulator. Clean the built up dust from your radiators and baseboard heat vents often. This allows the air to flow freely into your rooms and promotes equal heat radiation. It is healthier too!
  • Pay attention to your windows. Approximately 10-25% of your house’s heat loss can be attributed to windows. To reduce this, open curtains and shades on south facing windows during daylight hours to allow the sun’s heat to enter your house and warm it. Keep curtains and blinds closed at night and when the sun is not shining on them to insulate your house and keep the heat inside. Another tip – place blankets over uncovered windows and drapes , especially at night when the windows are not being used and the temperature is at its coldest.
  • Shut the doors. If the room is not used, why heat it? Shut the doors and close the vent when you are not in the room. When you are in the room, shutting the door can increase the room’s temperature by keeping in your body heat and the heat produced by lights or other electronics such as a computer.

Winter heating is expensive. But these tips can help you save some money on your heating bill. The best part is – none of them will cost you a thing!

photo by: claudmey .

Published or updated September 13, 2009.
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Albert

Here are some more tips:

– Caulk cracks and gaps around doors and windows.
– Use a humidifier and
– Check your furnace air filter and change it regularly


2 Ryan

Great tips, but… caulk costs money, you have to buy a humdifier, and air filters cost money.

I actually have “10 inexpensive tips to save on heating bills” scheduled for tomorrow, and those three are already on the list! 😉

Thanks for the comment. 🙂


3 Brip Blap

I have a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: don’t have kids! We used to keep the house a lot colder but now that we have a little guy running around and sitting on the floor and pulling off his socks every 2 minutes we HAVE to keep it a bit warmer. At least we have carpet – if we had hardwood it would be impossible to keep it warm enough for a baby…

Also, if you have central air or a ceiling fan consider turning on the fan (not the heat) briefly. The energy usage of the fan is offset by the fact that it “stirs” the air and keeps it more uniformly mild, instead of letting all the hot air rise and the cold air settle.


4 Ryan

Hi Brip Blap,

Point taken on having kids. You definitely want to look after them! I didn’t think about turning on the fan briefly, but that is a good idea. It would also push out the rest of the hot air that was trapped in the ducts when the furnace shut down. Great tips!


5 David

Wear 3 sweaters…;-)


6 Diana

Turning your heat down more than 3 degrees from the daytime set temp will actually cause you to loose efficiency if you have a heat pump. Biggest and eaisiest way to save on heating bill – change your filter every 3 months.


7 Ryan

Thanks for the tips, Diana! 🙂


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