Ask the Readers: How Do You Keep Heating Costs Low?

By Ashley Jacobs on 18 October 2016 70 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Miss Kim, Samantha, and Matthew for winning this week's contest!

We're well into fall, which means temperatures will drop over the next few months. Heating is a big expense for many households this time of year.

How do you keep heating costs low? What steps do you take to prepare your home and family for winter?

Tell us how you keep heating costs low and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Jenny D

Our main source of heat is slab wood. We have this delivered and order enough bundles to get the discount price. We cut it into pieces that fit our wood stove. We supplement this with fuel oil, but keep the thermostat set at 55 degrees. If anyone gets chilly, there are plenty of throws in baskets throughout the house. All family members have warm slippers to wear, which I keep near the boot tray. I have thick socks for guests if they need them. Window treatments get closed at night to keep out the cold and opened during the day to allow in the sunshine. As we can afford it, we replace windows and doors.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just keep my apartment really cold and deal with layers and blankets.

Guest's picture
kathleen viviano

first, we use a programmable thermostat which automatically lowers the temp at night. second, we tend to keep the temp in the 60's. third, we wear sweats around the house during the day. and finally, we put heavier blankets on the bed at night.

Guest's picture
Rachael

For reference, we live in New Jersey, which has horribly cold winters:

1) Our house has five zones for heating. We only use one of them, two at the most as it is just my husband and me living in the house.

2) For the one or two zones we do use, the highest we keep the heat is 62 or 64 at the very most.

3) We turn our heat to 60 at night when we are sleeping.

4) During the day when I am home and in one of the unheated zones, I use an electric blanket when I am at the computer or otherwise seated. This has saved us a lot of money.

Guest's picture
Karen Patterson

Not a problem in Florida. We seldom use our heater.

Guest's picture
Mami2jcn

We keep the doors and windows insulated.

Guest's picture
Jeff

I like the heat down anyway. If I do get chilly then i'll put on a sweatshirt

Guest's picture
Tracy

To keep heating (and air conditioning) costs manageable, we use a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature when we are at work during the day or asleep at night. I also use throws on the couch to use to snuggle with a kitty to create warmth. :)

Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I keep heating costs low by turning down the thermostat, wearing warm clothes and sitting under a blanket!

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JJ

We make sure to schedule a tune-up on our furnace every fall; that ensures it's running as efficiently as it can. And change the filters often!

Guest's picture
Chris

I set the thermostat to 55 degrees and wear LOTS of layers. I actually prefer a cool house and found I don't get sick as often since I'm not bouncing between a hot interior and cold exterior. May not work for everyone, but try lower the temperature a couple of degrees at a time until you find your limit.

Guest's picture
Donna Sako

I am fortunate to have a fireplace and wood stove. That is used when the heat pump is running almost all the time. I have a programmable thermostats--actually two. One for my bedroom which I can keep lower-especially at night, an done for the rest of the house. When I spend more time in my office, I can use my oil heater just for that room when I am there. I use blankets while watching TV, keep the temperature no higher than 62 throughout the day and turn it to 55 at night. I wear sweaters, drink hot tea and exercise. I also have extra insulation around the outside wall outlets, in the attic, and have drapes. During the day, I open drapes during the day so more sun gets in and helps to heat the house, close then at night. I have double panes windows.

Guest's picture
Elena

I keep the heating costs low by living in warm climate

Guest's picture
luke

While its easy to just tell someone to bundle up and throw on a sweater, I don't think that's the tips we are looking for.

Renting gets tricky, since I cant make huge changes like install insulation or add a wood burning fireplace, however, simple things make a huge difference too. 1. I installed a programmable thermostat. Before I go to bed, and before I leave for work, the temperature drops... no point in heating an apartment when I'm not there, and I get better sleep with a cooler house at night. 2. I hang insulated curtains. I found that my big glass sliding door also acts as a huge cold spot. 3. I found where my cold spots are... as stated before, if I know where I could be losing heat, I know where to fix problems. A point and shot laser thermometer is cheap on amazon. 4. I keep my house humid. Interesting trick, if there is humidity in the air, there is less likely drafts. I have a small humidifier, and my houseplants also keep some moisture in the air. If you can keep it between 40-60% humidity, your in a good spot. 5. I keep my ceiling fan going when home. I have baseboard heating, but even if I had forced air this trick would work. Heat rises, so if you can circulate the hot air back down with a fan, you have a more even temperature rather then wasting it all on heating your ceiling. 6. Close any unnecessary rooms off. Its amazing how cold my bathroom can get by just closing the door, a lot of wasted heat goes through my bathroom exhust in the winter.

Mind you too, this is coming from someone from Wisconsin, were we can get some nasty cold spells. I hope these inexpensive tips can help someone else just learning about how to keep heating costs low in winter.

Guest's picture
Carl

Use a Nest Thermostat and all the features. I have saved a great deal with my initial investment in the device.

Guest's picture
Natasha

I get to take advantage of having downstairs neighbor by getting a little of their residual rising heat. Keeping extra blankets and warmer sweatshirts around is a must for me.

Guest's picture
V

Wear layers and use a space heater.

Guest's picture
Monique

Luckily I live in Florida, so it doesn't get too cold in winter. It does get a little chilly for a couple months, and I make sure everything is well insulated and that there aren't little leaks in the windows or doors. And when I'm cold, I bundle up rather than turn on the heat which runs quite inefficiently.

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Gina

Instead of turning the heater on, I put on extra layers, wrap myself in blankets, and drink hot drinks.

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Jen

I live in Las Vegas! :)

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lisa c barrineau

Keep blinds wide open during the day - especially on the sunny side of the house. I usually put a new sweep strip on the bottom of all doors that lead outside, as well as the cushioned strips in window tracks.I also use draft dodgers ar outside doors. I reverse my ceiling fans to push warm air down. I also dress warmer without putting on clothes to restrict movement. I make sure I close the lined, weather blocking curtains on the side of the house that does not receive sun. I also cover up with a throw when I am sitting, so I don't feel the need to up the heat. The final thing I do is make sure my inside ceiling fan door is not askew and letting heated air go into the attic, I even added thick foam insulation around the door this year.

Guest's picture
Shafat Rashid

I keep the thermostat in the cold air slot with 70 F. Helps me from getting frozen and also keep the electricity bill at an affordable rate

Guest's picture
Sue Y.

Use a heat helper on the dryer.

Guest's picture
Kellie

I'm a huge fan of layered clothing and warm socks! I don't like my house to be warmer than about 65 degrees, which is already cool for many people. I'm in the process of building a tiny house, which will be heated mainly with a very small wood stove. Otherwise, I will be getting a small space heater with a high efficiency rating.

Guest's picture
Trish

We use small electric heaters in the rooms we are in and keep the oil heat lower in the other rooms. Surprisingly it only raises our electric bill slightly but we are much warmer. We have a huge old house to heat so we do what we can to save.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I keep heating costs low by never using my heater, opening my blinds to let the sun in, and wearing warm pajamas and hats. Luckily, it's only me so I'm the only one who has to worry about being cold. I also live in Southern California so there are only a few nights out of the year that get to about 30ish. On those nights, I use a space heater to just warm things up in my bedroom before I go to sleep.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I try to use space heaters in individual rooms rather than heating the whole place. Also, I try to recapture heat from the oven after cooking or the humidity from showers to keep my place warm and comfortable.

Guest's picture
Guest

Layer up! Blankets, sweaters, etc.

Guest's picture
DG Reid

I keep the heating bill low by keeping the heat low. We delay turning it on as long as possible, keep it at 64* when we're home, 58* when we're not or asleep under many blankets, and make sure all windows are locked closed and doors and windows are covered.

Guest's picture
Peg M

layers, layers, and more layers

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Jamie DeAngelis

Historically I've gone for the keep the temperature low, lower it before I got to bed and raise it a little when I wake up. I love blankets so it's easy for me to nestle in! I also run crockpots a lot and will spend half my sunday cooking so the oven is one for longer periods of time which helps with heat

Guest's picture
Amanda

We have a programmable thermostat, so we keep the house very chilly during sleeping periods or while everyone is away (we rent out a couple of our extra rooms). We can control our (very efficient) HVAC system from our phones, so we will turn it down as low as possible if everyone is away. We enjoy wearing sweatpants and piling on blankets. Each person also has a portable heater to deal with differences in temperatures in different areas of the house. The TV and oven tend to heat up the main areas of the house... plus, having four large and XL dogs in the home can help generate some heat, too, ha.

Guest's picture
Michelle D.

We wear warm clothes when it gets cold. I'm always in thick pants, a thick fleece sweater and fuzzy socks!

Guest's picture
WG

Thermostat 57 at night, 67 during day. Dress accordingly. Also increased insulation in attic to around 12", replaced most windows.

Guest's picture
Miss Kim

We keep lots of blankets handy and I always wear warm socks.

Guest's picture
JD

When we moved in, I caulked all of the open areas I could find around windows and doors, added some weatherstripping, and put some foam covers behind all electrical outlets on exterior walls. Also, our heart pump went out after 6 years, so we replaced it with a 15 seer model.

Guest's picture
Guest

We live in Connecticut, so winters are cold! We use the programs on the thermostats so the heat isn't running when we aren't home. We turn it to 65 at night and use blankets. I tend to be cold all the time, so I wear a thick sweatshirt and drink hot tea.

Guest's picture
Christie

We bundle up, have our house situated on our property to catch the winter sunlight, and keep the thermostat at about 68 or 69. Slippers, sweaters, and cozy blankets are all around and the rice bag for my feet is a daily help!

Guest's picture
Annie

This is something we are working on... We have a programmable thermostat, we keep a ceiling fan turning slowly while furnace is on (we have vaulted ceilings, not energy efficient). Otherwise, I just wear lots of scarves, hats and socks in the house, helps a lot to stay warm even if he heat is turned down. We are looking into whether a new, super efficient wood burning stove would help heat the house to keep the electricity bill lower. The investment probably wouldn't be paid off in savings, but the ambiance and direct heat is really nice.

Guest's picture
Judi in Tinton Falls

I decide where the thermostat is to be set, and then I leave it alone. Chilly when entering my house? I grab a sweater and a hot drink. Watching a late movie while the wind hits the patio door? Wrap up in my winter comfort microfiber blanket and wear socks!

Guest's picture
Susan P.

I never have to turn on the heat so don't have any heating costs but we get higher bills in the summer with the air conditioning. I use Budget Billing which averages the electricity costs over the whole year so it's easier to budget.

Guest's picture
Mary W

Living in a warm climate helps the most! We do have nights below freezing but my house is well insulated and stays warm. We rarely use the heating system because we know by mid-morning it might be in the 60's or 70's. Warm clothing and a cozy warm bed make a big difference.

Guest's picture
MelodyJ

Turn the heater at the lowest comfortable setting .

Guest's picture
Sharon

We installed insulated material on our curtains. That really does help keep a lot of the cold out. Another way we keep our heating cost low is making sure we insulate around our doors, keep the drafts out.

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

We use our fireplace to keep our heating costs down.

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natasha

We use our fireplace often and it keeps the house pretty warm. Also kids sleep in warm jammies so we are not running the heater too much.

Guest's picture
Liz

We are in Texas so we try not to use it as much as possible.

Guest's picture
Elle

We take advantage of the fireplace and use space heaters when not wanting to use the main heat for the house.

Guest's picture
Matt

Effective landscaping thus creating natural wind breaks from the large open farmland behind my property. Additionally having a spring/ summer & fall / winter window treatments helps as well.

Guest's picture
Kelli

Luckily, I'm naturally a warm person. I wear sweats, use throw blankets, and cuddle with my dogs when it gets too cold! We usually keep the theromstat around 65 degrees in the winter. We also have a fireplace for when it's REALLY cold.

Guest's picture
Lynda

we bundle up instead of turning on the heater. sometimes going outside helps because we get more active!

Guest's picture
Guest

I wear cozy layers/socks and keep the thermostat at 64. I live in Wisconsin so dealing with the cold is a necessity!

Guest's picture
Rebecca Ross

We have a digital thermostat and set it at 68 degrees F from 6am to 9am, and 4pm to 9pm, and down to 60 degrees F for all the other times. We also use an electric blanket at night, a little heater in the bathroom when we are in there and blankets, thick socks and sweaters when needed.

Guest's picture
Guest

Layers, blankets, warm beverages, and covering drafty old windows with plastic and blankets.

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

We still haven't turned on our heat, even though it drops into the 50s every night. We wear sweaters/hoodies around the house. We have blankets on the sofa. We have a heated mattress pad on our bed and we wear socks and caps to bed. We try to use the oven more for cooking in cold seasons.

Guest's picture
Kristin J

We use a portable heater when we shower otherwise we just wear jackets in the house.

Guest's picture
Betty

I have thermal curtains on my windows, and I dress warm inside the house. Put on an extra sweatshirt!

Guest's picture
Pam

I tend to be cold when no one else is and I wear a bathrobe 2 sizes bigger than I normally wear over my clothing.
Our home is well insulated and sealed.
We run ceiling fans on low pushing the heat down.
We use our programmable thermostat that we lock so our kids can't play with it.
I self clean the oven on the coldest days of the year. This saves some $$ on our oil heat and I wait to self clean it thoroughly on these days.
We close our drapes and window coverings as much as possible during cold snaps and always at night.

Years ago when we rented we would put folded rags under the bottom of our windows before shutting them and plastic over some of the windows if we needed to. The townhouse we rented wasn't that old at the time but boy was it drafty!

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Donna D

Use wood for most of our heat.

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Emily S.

We have a wood fireplace and we chop the wood ourselves!

Guest's picture
Catseye

I turn the thermostat down a few degrees while I'm gone during the day, turn it back up when I get home. I usually set the temp at 68 at night before I go to bed and use lots of blankets.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

We keep our thermostats set low - in the low to mid 60's. We wear layers & keep blankets scattered around the house for anyone sitting around a while. But one easy way to stay warm is to keep moving regularly! I will get up and do 10 minutes of easy cardio, yoga or stretching to get and stay warm for awhile.

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

I use small heaters and sealant on the doors and plastic sealant coverings for the windows

Guest's picture
Chris

We use the programmable thermostat and try to keep it pretty cool in the house - I actually prefer it to be chilly and wear socks and a sweatshirt and sit with a blanket on the couch.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm blessed to prefer cool to hot, and thanks to the magic of programmable thermostats, keep the house about 65 except for right before I get up in the morning to about 45 minutes after I get up, or if I have people over. I have cozy blankets for beds and living room chairs, and I wear layers and sweats. We make sure weather stripping and caulking are in good order, to keep out drafts, and we love to bake and roast veggies, so we have extra heat of the oven to cozy things up pretty regularly.

Guest's picture
J. Pario

I'm amazed how much opening up the blinds and curtains helps when it is sunny.

Guest's picture
Linda

We have a couple of large room space heaters.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

We have a programmable thermostat, and we gradually change the set points to match the season.

Guest's picture
Michael

We keep our windows well insulated so no cold air can get in.

Guest's picture
Thomas Murphy

I live in FL so there is not much heating costs.