Save Money on Heating Costs by Reducing Energy Consumption

In order to save money on heating costs, you will need to adjust your home energy consumption. The extreme cold temps this year are a real threat to anyone living on a fixed income!

Home heating (oil prices especially) costs can shift dramatically in a very short period of time. A rapid change to colder weather like we've had, can impact both supply and demand. People want more fuel at the same time that delivery systems are interrupted by freezing temps and snow/sleet on the ground. This means that the available heating oil in storage is used much faster than it can be replenished. Refineries cannot keep up with demand during these cold periods, so the prices go UP, UP, UP!

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U.S. Energy Consumption by Fuel (1980-2030) (quadrillion Btu)

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With prices always increasing, it looks like its going to be a very long, bleak winter! Energy costs are going to sky rocket if the present weather pattern doesn't change! There are however, a number of things you can do to help offset the costs!

In view of less than favorable economic forecasts, cutting back on what you consume is a must-have. Many people are struggling - so it's essential to know some real concrete ways to save money on heating costs.

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How to Save Money on Heating Costs

  • Heat your house room by room. Heating your whole house is more expensive than heating just part of it. Don't close registers in unused rooms though, because it can damage you ducts or possibly the furnace itself. Instead, use space heaters or other forms of radiant heat in the rooms that you actually use. Radiant heat concentrates heat on objects instead of the air. This type of heat bodes well for people who are cold-natured, as it will help heat your body or the chair you’re sitting on.

  • Wood burning fireplaces can dramatically help save money on heating expenditures. To increase efficiency, use seasoned wood only and open your damper as wide as possible. It is also recommended that you have your chimney cleaned once per year. A chimney cap prevents environmental damage and deters wild critters from entering. If you have problems with your chimney, you'll need a call in a professional service to help remedy any issues.

  • Try getting used to being comfortable at lower temperatures in the winter. You can save money on heating costs by adjusting your living area and adjusting your attitude.

    Use your ceiling fans on the lowest setting to help circulate the heat in the air around you. It does not matter if you use the 'blow upwards' mode or the 'blow downwards' mode. That's a matter of personal preference. If you feel a draft from your ceiling fan and it bothers you, set the ceiling fan to blow towards the ceiling. The warm air will deflect off the ceiling and recirculate it back down the walls to you. You can also save money on heating costs by using area rugs on bare floors to help maintain your level of comfort. Area rugs work great in tiled areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Set your thermostat and leave it alone! In cold winter months, your thermostat should be set no higher than 68 degrees fahrenheit if you want to save money on heating! For every degree above or below, you can change your kilowatt-per-hour usage by 3 to 5 percent. Keep turning up the thermostat and you will be increasing your power usage and have much higher bills. If you leave the house for prolonged periods of time, be sure to cut the thermostat back at least ten degrees while you're gone. (That's what the power companies recommend!) There's no good reason for warming your home when no one's in it!

  • Window treatments can save a whole lot of money on heat that escapes through small leaks and cracks around your windows. Both blinds and curtains work well to contain the heat in your home. Most conventional drapes with a fairly tight weave can reduce heat loss up to 10 percent. Close drapes and blinds at night and only open drapes during the day in the rooms that get direct sunlight.

  • Heating Systems. Use cheaper, more energy efficient heating systems. If you can upgrade your heating system, you will have to choose between heat pumps vs. oil/gas heat, and radiant heat vs. forced-air heat.

    - Forced Air systems heat the entire house. Heat pumps are the cheapest to operate, but the most expensive to install. They're much safer and healthier than oil/gas systems, which can cause home fires or poison you with byproducts from combustion. (EPA).

    - Gas or oil-based heating units are the cheapest to install, and also the most common type of system found in the US, but they are more dangerous and potentially unhealthy for you.

    - Central heating systems are more expensive than space heaters or radiant heaters, which heat only specific rooms or areas. Use one electric space heater per room and only turn it on only when you’re in the room, rather than trying to heat your whole house.

  • If you do use central heat, be sure to change your filters regularly. A dirty filter makes your system work harder and run longer to heat your home. Many home improvement store sell permanent filters, which you can clean them with a garden hose or in the bathtub so you don't have to replace the filter each month. If you don't change your filters regularly, you won't save money on heating costs!

  • There should be a minimum 1/4" gap on the bottom of all interior doors so that the air can flow freely from one room to another. This is true even if you've closed the vents in the room or hallway where the return air vent is. Don't try to insulate an individual room by blocking all the ways for the air to escape back to the living area. They're intended to have air flow back to the living area, even if the living area isn't heated. If the air can't flow, then the system won't be able to push air through the vent into the room. This prevents heated air from getting into the rooms you want to heat, and it can damage your heater since it has a hard time pushing the air through.

  • Make sure your air flow ducts don't have leaks. Many local utility companies will check your house, (including your ducts) for free. These are called 'energy audits', and I personally had one done recently. The auditor pointed out several things I could do to save money on heating costs!

  • Insulate your home well to keep heat from escaping out of the house and save money on heating costs. You want to pay only to heat your home, not the outdoors. Use weather stripping around doors and windows where and when you can!

    Buy products that are used for 'all climate' control like All Climate Rubber Weatherseal. You can cover your windows completely with a seal of plastic, which helps block the cold from seeping into your house. These can be applied to the inside or the outside of your window, depending on which type you buy. All are very cost effective. Window Insulation Kits are a great way to save money and energy!

    Also, make sure your attic has lots of insulation and check under your house. If you don’t have insulation in either place, make sure to install it as soon as possible. R30 insulation is the thickest insulation you can buy (9.5" thick) to help contain the air inside your home and save money on heating. I recently checked under my house and found that they had rolled out the insulation a good 6" below the actual floor. I am going to try to fix this myself by stapling the insulation to the floor. Not something I look forward to, but this is paramount for saving money on heating! Never roll out sections unless you have the same width between floor beams, as are sold in the rolls. (like they did under my house.)

    You can save money on heating by purchasing any width. Never cut the insulation lengthwise. That wastes insulation which isn't cheap to buy. Cut the insulation side ways in small sections instead. That means you’ll be able to buy any width insulation and stack them up in blocks width-wise. You won’t save time doing it this way, but you’ll save money on heating costs and get more efficient use of the insulation you buy.

  • Use heating pads or heating blankets when you are stationary in your home or at work. Sitting on a heating pad makes a big difference if you have access to a plug nearby. Heating YOU up costs much less than heating your entire house.

  • If you like the idea of warming yourself up instead of the air, use radiant heat. Radiant heat warms an object, which then radiates heat throughout your room. There are many ways to get radiant heat, such as space heaters, radiators, and electric heating panels. Radiant heat will save money on heat cause it’s cheaper than forced air systems.

    * When you use radiant heat, you have more choices of how much of your home you heat. With forced-air you have to heat your whole house, whether you're using all of it or not.

    * Radiant heating convey heat better than hot air. It allows you to feel warmer even at lower room air temperatures.

    * Personal radiant heaters, like booties or battery-powered socks, make you more comfortable at a lower room temperature.

    Don't understand the difference between forced air and radiant heat? A toaster uses radiant heat. The metal elements in the toaster heat up, and convey heat to the bread, which toasts it. This is a very efficient way to use heat transfer. On the other side of the coin, think about a hot air popcorn popper. These appliances use forced air by sucking in room air and then blowing hot air out. Both appliances use similar amounts of electricity, but the toaster is more efficient. You could toast a piece of bread with a hot air popcorn popper, but it would take longer.

    Radiant Heat can either be fueled by gas or electricity. Electricity is more expensive, but safer and much healthier for you. Another advantage of radiant systems over forced air is that temperatures are more uniform throughout your room. In forced air systems, the ceiling retains most of the warmth and the floors remain cold.

    Type of system

    Operating Cost

    Installation Cost


    Geothermal Heat Pump



    Air Heat Pump



    Not for cold climates; moderate climates only

    Oil or Gas Furnace



    More likely to accidentally burn down your house; can expose you to toxic byproducts of combustion

    Electric Furnace

    Crazy Expensive


    Warm, Cold, and Coldest climates need about 27, 37, and 45 BTU's per s.f. respectively. Divide BTU's by 3400 to get kW size. So a 1000 s.f. home in a warm climate needs a 27 x 1000 ÷ 3400 = 8 kW system. If you pay 11¢/kWh, it costs 8 x $0.11 = $0.88/hr. to run it, or $214 to run it 8 hrs./day for a month.

    Different Kinds of Radiant Heaters

    Electric Units - These usually have a round face and oscillate. Oscillating Digital Ceramic Heaters are a good example. They typically use 1500 watts on high settings.

    Oil Filled Units - These use electricity to heat the oil inside them, which then warms the air. The heaters look like the old time radiators that they used to use in many schools. They use about the same amount of electricity as electric-element units. The best models have adjustable heating controls, between 600-1500 watts. Radiator type heaters are very cheap to buy and will help you save money on heating costs.

    Radiant Heat Panel - These are flat panel units that you can secure to a wall or leave free standing. (for some models). They typically plug into an electrical outlet or can be hard-wired in to the house's electrical system. Electricity heats the metal elements inside the panel. The panels range in size from 1'x2' to 4'x8', and energy consumption ranges from 100 watts to 3000 watts. Another option is radiant ceiling film.

    Hydronic Radiator - These are very much like oil filled units, but circulate warm water inside the unit, instead of oil. The warmth is then radiated into the room.

    Hydronic Floor System - Water is heated by gas, oil, or electricity, and then circulated through plastic tubing that runs under flooring, walls, or ceilings. These are most efficient if they're installed under the floor however, because warm air rises. Keeping your feet warm makes you feel warmer overall. An electric-fueled system can easily use 1000-3000 watts to heat a small efficiency apartment.

    Electric Floor System - Same as the above mentioned floor system, but the warmth comes from low-voltage electrical wires, not piped water.

    Ceiling Fan Heaters - A new product on the market are Reiker ceiling fan heaters. The ceiling fan generates heat and then blows it around the room. These are best for small areas like your bedroom or dining area. These are a good alternative to electric space heaters. Remember that electric is more expensive than gas, whether your heating source is radiant or not. They're suitable only as replacements for electric space heaters or electric-based forced air systems, or where there's not already a heating system installed.

    Personal Radiant Heaters - These are great because they use just a small amount of electricity but make you feel much warmer, and you will save money on heating costs for your home. These products originated in Japan. If you work at a computer, you can buy USB-powered slippers and gloves. You can also purchase Electric Foot Warming Pads or Toastie Toes Foot Warmers to keep your feet toasty-O warm! The more you look around for personal heaters, the more you'll find!

    Heating your whole house is more expensive than heating just the room(s) you're using. If you substitute a personal heaters for central heat, you can save money. However, if you try to heat the whole house with multiple heaters it will cost more. To avoid extra costs, only heat the areas you are using!

    If you already have a whole-house system (forced-air), this means never turning it on. (My son and I are living this way right now!) You can save money on heating costs if you become a better consumer. You may have to do a bit of extra work or put extra time into it, but you'll lower your heating costs and have more money to spend on other necessities.

    Of course, you can always just hold someone close and steal all their body heat! That's the cheapest way to save money on heating that you'll ever find!

    Related Pages on This Site

    Staying Warm in Cold Temps – How to Beat Energy Costs and Keep Cozy!

    Eco Friendly Tips to Save Money Now!

    Save Money on Groceries to Survive a Tough Economy

    Manage Your Finances to Save Money

    Seeking Work in Tough Economic Times

    Ecology Friendly Around the House


    How to Increase Heat From a Wood-Burning Fireplace

    Twelve Tactics to Prepare for Winter Heating Bills

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