Ah, winter — the season where the green, lush grass turns into a glistening hue of white and the sun’s powerful rays take a much-needed vacation. As you read this, you’re probably snuggled up in a toasty home, wearing your favorite winter apparel and dreading the moment you have to take a glimpse at your next energy bill — because, after all, you’ll be relying on your heater much more frequently this season.
To help lessen the financial burden this winter, while keeping your home as cozy as can be, here are some ways to heat your house for a fraction of the cost.
11 Ways to Heat Your Home for Less
1. Rearrange the Furniture
Is there a bed, couch, or chair blocking a vent or radiator in your home? If so, consider moving that piece of furniture out of the way. Even a small obstruction in front of a radiator or vent will waste money and keep the room feeling cold (since your heater will only be warming up the furniture it sits behind).
2. Cut Back on Using Your Fireplace
This may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not beneficial to use your fireplace often during winter. As it turns out, the flue of your fireplace easily lets heat escape up the chimney, similar to having a window open on a chilly day.
Another thing to keep in mind: when the fireplace is in use, you’ll only feel warm by the glow of the roaring flames — any heat emitted will not travel through your home. So, if you’re thinking about lounging around by the fireplace this winter, consider making this a special occasion (and, of course, close your flue when the fireplace is not in use).
3. Use Your Ceiling Fan
While on the subject of oxymorons, it may be a good idea to use your ceiling fan during the winter months. As it turns out, this rotating aerial fixture will help bring heated air down to the ground in rooms — especially in those that have high ceilings. To make this happen, you’ll want to adjust your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise at the slowest speed possible.
4. Purchase a “Door Snake”
One way many homeowners lose heat is through a pesky, drafty door. To help stop the draft, consider sealing the gap at the base with a “door snake.” These “creatures” are relatively cheap and are super easy to install — place it evenly at the base of the door and it will begin to block out cold air instantly!
5. Invest in a Door Sweep
Now, if you feel as if the “door snake” is “slithering away” or isn’t that effective for your drafty door, consider investing in a door sweep. This light, broom-like fixture is very simple to attach (it usually requires a slight trim with a hacksaw, followed by a few screws to bolt to the door).
6. Have a Programmable Thermostat Installed
One of the best devices on the market is a programmable thermostat. This gadget, also known as a “smart thermostat,” is the perfect solution to preset temperatures in your home. For example, if you lower the heat while you sleep and raise it at different intervals throughout the day, you can save 10-to-20% on your energy bill each month. Another perk is that it can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet almost anywhere in the world — all you need is a strong internet connection!
Although this device isn’t ideal for a heat pump, a programmable thermostat even works a series of wonders when used for a central air conditioner (i.e., in the summertime, you can have your air conditioner turn on an hour or two before you arrive home from work).
7. Seal the Windows
Let’s face it: no one likes a drafty window during the wintertime. After all, even the smallest stream of air can quickly turn a cozy room into an igloo in a matter of seconds. To help eliminate this from happening, consider quick-sealing your windows with a kit from your local home improvement store.
These kits are relatively simple to use, and the entire project can be completed in less than an hour — depending on how many windows you plan on sealing.
8. Replace Your Furnace Filter
It's crucial for homeowners with a forced-air heating system to replace the furnace filter before winter rolls through. By replacing your filter, you can save up to 5% on total energy costs, as well as reduce the amount of dust buildup in your living space.
Before buying the first filter you see, make sure to measure the size of your current filter, as well as consider your options — such as opting-in for a washable filter.
9. Open the Drapes
One of the best-kept secrets to heating your home for less is fully opening the drapes (or curtains) during the day. This will let the sun’s rays do the job of warming up your humble abode, rather than letting your heater do all the work. At sunset, close the drapes and be amazed at how warm your living space is.
As a bonus, consider purchasing insulated curtains that help block out cold air and retain heat in your home.
10. Adjust Your Thermostat
A simple way to help lower your heating bill is to consider adjusting your thermostat. For example, you can save up to 12% on your heating bill if you drop the thermostat from 72 degrees to 68 degrees. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have a coil-based thermostat, clean it often to help heat your home more accurately.
11. Stop Your Heater From Rapid Cycling
Rapid cycling is when your heater turns on and off (automatically) to keep your home at a consistent temperature. Typically, this happens if your device is programmed to less than 1 degree.
To help defeat rapid cycling, you’ll want to tap into your electric thermostat’s “cycle-rate adjustment” and see if it is set to below 1 degree. If it is, raise it to 1 degree or even 1.5 degrees. If your home has a mechanical thermostat, consider adjusting it one notch higher than 0.1 to 1.2 amps.
For more helpful ways to save energy around your home, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website!