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How to lower your heating costs and stay warm

A closeup of a person in a grey robe holding a mug with a warm beverage close

If you're trying to fight the cold weather that winter brings, it's tempting to turn up your home's thermostat to stay warm. 

While home heating and air can keep you comfortable during the coldest and hottest months of the year, you may be making your system work harder than it should to keep you warm.

Nothing creates a high energy bill like an overworked heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. 

If you want to give your home's HVAC system a break and lower your heating costs, keep reading to learn more. 

Why Does My House Use More Energy in the Winter?

According to the United States Department of Energy, on average, heating costs more and uses more energy than all other systems in the home, making up around 29 percent of the average energy bill. 

Your heating system works to keep your home at the temperature you designate on the thermostat. The greater the difference between the outdoor temperature and the thermostat, the more the heating unit has to run to maintain temperature.

If you're trying to ease the burden on your HVAC system while staying comfortable, there are a few ways that you can make your home more energy efficient in the winter.   

Simple Steps to Lower Your Heating Costs and Stay Warm

Easy Ways to Warm Up Without the Heater

Lower your thermostat.

This may seem obvious, but every degree counts! Keeping your temperature around 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night can make a significant difference in your energy usage. Turning your thermostat down 7°-10℉ from its usual setting can save you up to 10 percent a year. 

Wear layers around the house.

If you lower your home's thermostat, you can adjust your lounging attire to feel more comfortable. Wearing multiple layers can help insulate your body heat better than one large layer.

Wearing layers like a sweatshirt, long-sleeve t-shirt or knitted thermal around the house can mitigate the temperature difference.

Decorate your home with warm blankets.

Place beautiful quilts or blankets around your home on couches, lounging chairs or ottomans. This practice can add functional decoration that puts extra warmth within arms' reach.

Use the sun to your advantage.

Use natural sunlight to heat your home. Open blinds and curtains to south-facing windows during the day to let maximum sunlight into your home.

Use excess heat.

After you've showered or used your oven, minimally use your fan and allow excess heat from these activities to warm up your home. Never leave your oven open while it's on and properly ventilate any gas-powered cooking appliances.

Enjoy warm foods and drinks.

Warm foods and drinks like broth-based soups and herbal teas can help give you a quick warm-up. Beverages like coffee or black tea are a double-edged sword as caffeine can stimulate your body's metabolism but also dehydrate you.

Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is key to staying warm. Research shows that your body will tolerate cooler temperatures better if you balance your food and water intake.

Keeping Your Home's Envelope Sealed

Ensure all exterior doors and windows have a strong seal.

  • Check for drafts- This is the starting point of ensuring a tight home envelope. While a home energy audit is the most precise way to pinpoint problems with your home's insulation, you can perform a quick check by inspecting your exterior doors and windows. Note that it’s easier to notice drafts when there is a large temperature difference between the outdoor and indoor air temperatures. Check for drafts when it is very cold or very hot outside. For an even more accurate inspection, you can purchase an infrared heat gun to get a detailed idea of where you are losing hot or cold air.  
  • Weatherstripping and caulking- If your windows and doors aren't sealing as tightly as they should, start with DIY weatherstripping and caulking kits.  
  • Door snakes and draft stoppers- Door snakes and draft stoppers are quick fixes for drafty doors. Most can be laid down on the frame at the door's threshold to eliminate a large percentage of the draft.

Covering Windows and Doors

  • Window insulation kits- Plastic wrap insulation kits can create an extra layer of air around your window to preserve your home's heat. You can purchase these kits online or at a hardware store.
  • Curtains- Insulating curtains can add another layer between the harsh cold and the warmth of your home. These are especially useful on windows that face away from the sun or during overcast days when sunlight can't naturally warm your home.
  • Hanging blankets and towels- If you need to ward off the cold in a pinch, you can place a blanket or towel in front of your windows and doors to create a barrier from drafts.

Learn More About Home Energy Efficiency

To learn more about your home's insulation, energy-efficient heating units and how your home's envelope retains heat, check out our blog page for more information.

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