Use Heat Only When Necessary
It's very tempting to curl up under a blanket and binge watch or hibernate your way through the winter. Sadly, almost all of us must leave our homes on a regular basis. Take advantage of these absences. If you're going to work or will be away from home for more than a couple of hours, set your thermostat to a lower temperature. This lower temperature will save you money on your heating bill because your furnace will not have to work as hard to maintain the lower temperature.
This method also works when you are sleeping. When you go to bed, you are usually bundled under several blankets and dressed in warm pajamas. Adjusting the thermostat, a couple of degrees before going to bed can add to the savings from doing the same while you're away.
When combined with a programmable thermostat, this trick works even better. Because you can program it once and let the program take care of it for the rest of the season, you won't forget to set the temperature to one number or the other at any point. Programmable thermostats typically have four programming slots, allowing you to program temperature changes at four different times of day.
It's amazing how a few minor changes can make you feel so much warmer. Simply changing to flannel sheets, adding a fuzzy blanket, or adding an electric blanket or mattress pad can transform your bed into the most comfortable place on the planet. You can even combine any of those items to increase the coziness factor. Wearing long johns or sweaters under your regular clothes, or wearing multiple layers, will also help you stay warm without having to adjust the thermostat.
Even with centralized heating, at least one room in the house will always be colder than the others. This is an excellent opportunity to employ supplemental heat sources. Using supplemental heat sources allows you to direct heat where and when it is most needed, without raising the thermostat for the rest of the house. Supplemental heat sources allow you to take a hot shower in a warm bathroom or even enjoy that room in your home's northeast corner that is consistently 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house. There are numerous types of supplemental heat sources available such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood burning stoves.
Examine Your Home
Heat loss is one of the most significant factors in the average heating bill, and heat escapes from your home in the most insidious of ways. An inspection of all the potential heat loss points in your home is an excellent way to determine where heat is escaping, or cold air is entering.
Also consider having your central heating system inspected during your winter home evaluation. Dirty or rusted heat exchangers, leaking supply or return ducts, and an improperly balanced duct system can all lead to efficiency loss, raising operating costs.
Air can leak around doors and windows, which can be easily detected with a simple long-nosed lighter, such as a barbecue lighter or a candle lighter. (You may not be able to reach the top of the door and window frames with smaller hand-held lighters.) Slowly move the flame around the perimeter of the door or window; if the flame begins to dance in multiple directions, either towards or away from the door or window, you have a leak. Smaller air leaks can be sealed with low-cost adhesive-backed foam strips available at local hardware stores, and larger leaks, such as those found in rotted out window or door frames, can be temporarily filled with sprayable expanding foam.
There is no getting around the fact that if you live in an area where harsh winters are common, preparing for them is a yearly concern, not only for general comfort but also for your budget. However, by implementing the suggestions we've provided here, you can make a difference in your home or apartment. With a combination of these small changes made throughout your home, you may be able to see significant changes in your heating bill. Try one or more to see which one makes the most of a difference and feels the most at ease for you and your family.