Are you looking for the cheapest way to heat your home? Depending on where you live, you may dread the winter months for several reasons.
Not only do you have to shovel snow, scrape ice off your car and worry about dangerous road conditions, you also have to prepare for a higher gas or electric bill.
According to the Department of Energy, heating your house accounts for roughly 43% of your utility bill and, as a result, costs more money and energy than any other system in your home.
Fortunately, there are many minor adjustments you can make to save money on heating your home during the winter.
So, without further ado, here are 12 steps you can take to lower your heating bill.
1. Buy an Electric Space Heater
Why heat your entire home if you only spend time in a few rooms?
If used properly, an energy-efficient space heater is a great way to cut down on your heating bill by supplementing your existing heat system. They are also inexpensive and easy to install.
To use one properly, simply turn down your thermostat and turn on your space heater in the room you’re about to spend the most time in.
For example, if you work from home and are about to spend a few hours in your office, turn down your thermostat and run your space heater in the room instead. Most space heaters have wheels, so you will be able to bring it with you if you change rooms.
With that said, you shouldn’t use a space heater as your primary source of heat or leave it on overnight, as that will do nothing but increase your electric bill. Leaving it on overnight or while you’re not home is also a safety hazard.
Furthermore, also keep in mind that not all space heaters are energy-efficient. In fact, many of the older models will simply waste electricity. Considering this, you should buy an electric space heater with a built-in thermostat.
This will allow it to automatically turn on if the room drops to a certain temperature and automatically shut off after reaching the desired temperature.
Newer space heaters also require far less electricity to heat an entire room in a short period of time.
2. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
One of the best ways to lower your heating costs during the winter is by investing in a smart thermostat.
In fact, if you’re still using an old one, you’re probably wasting hundreds of dollars per year if you leave it on while you’re not home.
With a smart thermostat, you will be able to program it according to your schedule. For example, you can set it to automatically turn off while you’re at work and automatically turn on when you’re home.
By doing so, Energy Star estimates that you will be able to save approximately $100 per year.
You can even take it a step further and buy a smart thermostat like Ecobee or Nest to save more. Your utility company may even give you a rebate if you buy one.
A smart thermostat will also be able to detect any changes in temperature from activities like showering and cooking and will automatically adjust accordingly.
All-in-all, these small changes can add up and save you a lot of money during the winter months.
3. Add More Insulation to Your Home
If your home has poor insulation, it won’t be able to keep cold air outside during the winter and inside during the summer, which will inevitably increase your utility bill.
In other words, adding extra insulation to your attic may decrease your heating bill for several winters to come. You should also check to ensure that your exterior walls are properly insulated as well. This added insulation will help your home trap valuable warmth for as long as possible.
You may even want to add insulation to your attic door to keep the heat below.
To add more insulation to your attic, you can either do it yourself or hire a professional. While adding extra insulation may be costly upfront, you should be able to use less energy for the foreseeable future. This can make it a wise investment for years to come.
4. Install Solar Panels
If your home gets a lot of sunshine, solar panels are a great way to generate free electricity and, as a result, reduce your heating bill.
While installing solar panels will be somewhat pricey upfront, you will definitely save a lot of money in the long-term. Solar panels are also far better for the environment, as they do not release harmful pollutants.
Furthermore, if you do decide to install solar panels, you will also be able to claim them as a pretty big tax deduction.
5. Fix Drafts
If the house you live in is old or poorly built, there may be drafts coming in from several areas, such as underneath doors, spaces around your windows, basement or attic access, and more.
Because these spaces are continuously exposed to outdoor elements, even the smallest gaps can let in a lot of cold air during the winter.
To prevent this from happening, simply check these areas to ensure they aren’t losing you any valuable warmth.
If you find any gaps underneath doors, you can attach a door draft stopper. As for windows, you can use plastic window coverings or completely replace the windows if they’re old.
Lastly, if you have a drafty basement or attic access, you should install insulation as a way to trap heat.
6. Seal Your Chimney
If you have a drafty fireplace and never use it, you should consider sealing your chimney to save money on your heating bill. By closing off your fireplace, you will be able to retain a lot more warmth by preventing it from escaping through your chimney.
To seal your chimney, you have a few options. If you want to seal it off temporarily, you can use a throat damper, cap damper, or fireplace doors. Fireplace doors are a great option in addition to dampers.
On the other hand, if you want a permanent option, you can place a foam insulation plug at the bottom of your chimney and use weatherstrip or caulk to hold it in place.
7. Pay Your Utility Bill With a Credit Card
Although you may not be able to pay your mortgage or rent with a credit card, you may be able to use one to pay for your utilities.
By paying for your gas or electric bill with a credit card, you may be able to save some money each month in cash back.
However, before you do so, make sure to check the online portal of your utility provider to see if you will incur a huge transaction fee for paying with a credit card.
Even if there is a small fee, you may be able to offset it with the cash back you earn, depending on the card you use.
Using a credit card to pay your gas or electric bill is also a great way to earn sign-up bonuses instead of buying things you don’t need.
8. Avoid Bare Floorboards
If you have bare floorboards, you may be losing a lot of heat through them. A simple and effective way to prevent this from happening is by covering them with rugs or floorcloths.
You can also consider installing a radiant heat flooring system. Radiant heating is an energy-efficient and clean heating system that uses thermal radiation and electromagnetic waves to warm up a room by heating the flooring.
While installation can be quite pricey, it may save you money in the long run. Most homeowners who install a radiant heat flooring system see energy savings anywhere between 10 and 30 percent.
9. Change Your Air Filter
If your air filter is clogged, it may cause your HVAC unit to work harder, which will reduce its efficiency and, as a result, increase your heating bill. Furthermore, a dirty air filter will release dust and other allergens into your air.
To prevent this from happening, it’s crucial you change your air filter once every 4 to 6 months. This will help ensure your HVAC unit is running efficiently and providing you with clean air.
You may even want to buy a more advanced air filter, such as the Filtrete Furnace Air Filter, which is far more efficient than standard air filters on the market. While it will cost you a bit more, it’s worth the increase in effectiveness, less dust and allergens, and ultimately, healthier air.
10. Leave Your Oven and Shower Door Open
Whenever you take a sizzling hot shower or use your oven to make a hot, home-cooked meal, you probably close the door without even thinking about it.
However, during the winter months, this is valuable heat that is being trapped. Instead, leave your oven and shower door (and bathroom door) open after using them to help heat your house, even if it’s just a couple of degrees.
Not only will the hot water from your shower produce heat, it will also add humidity, which will make your room feel not as cold as it actually is.
11. Open Your Blinds
Letting sunlight into your home during the day by opening your blinds and curtains is known as passive solar heating.
Even though it doesn’t get warm outside during the winter, you’d be surprised how much of an impact the sun still has on the temperature of your home, even during these months, especially if you have a lot of large windows.
With that said, it shouldn’t be used as a primary source of heat, just as a supplement for other heating systems.
Considering this, you should leave blinds and curtains on windows that face south open during the day to let in the warm sunlight.
Just make sure to close them when they aren’t getting any more. This will help your home retain passive solar heat during the night.
12. Buy Warm Clothing
This may be the most obvious option on our list, but we figured it’s still worth mentioning.
If you find yourself keeping your home above 60 degrees during the winter, buying proper clothing that will retain your body heat is a great way to cut down on your heating bill.
For instance, you can wear high-tech base layers, well-insulated leggings, thick sweatshirts, ski socks, and much more.
By doing so, you can easily save hundreds on heating each year. The warm clothing you buy will also be great to wear outdoors as well.
What Is the Most Cost Efficient Way to Heat a Home?
According to Forbes, a furnace is generally the most cost-efficient heating system, especially if you have natural gas.
Not only do furnaces have a high-efficiency rating, they are also very affordable when compared to other heating systems.
However, one of the downsides of furnaces is that they tend to be quite loud because of their fan.
Final Words on the Cheapest Way to Heat a Home
Keeping your house warm during the winter months can hurt your wallet, but it doesn’t have to. As provided above, there are several steps you can take to lower your heating bill, which are all recommended by experts.
While some of them may seem obvious, many people get lazy or simply forget to do these basic things to maximize energy efficiency and reduce their heating costs.
Although many of them are indeed simple, these minor adjustments can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars throughout a couple of short years.
Whether it’s investing in an electric space heater or simply changing your air filter, they are all worthwhile.