Winter energy bills can give you the chills. Is there a way to stay warm without burning up cash? Actually, you can save up to 10% on your energy bills by setting your thermostat to its ideal temperature, which keeps you comfortable, optimizes energy efficiency, and saves you money.
Our guide will cover:
- The best wintertime temperature for your house
- Optimizing your home’s thermal efficiency
- How much money you can save by turning down the heat
- Tips for lowering your heating bills in the wintertime
- How to winterize your home to save money
- Ways to protect your home from the cold
- How to control airflow to keep heat inside
- Ways to feel cozy inside your home
What Is the Best Wintertime Temperature for My House?
Just as you can save money by carefully controlling your air conditioning system during the summer, you can make money- and energy-saving adjustments to your heater that save you cash when it’s cold. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. This temperature is warm enough to stay comfortable without putting on extra layers. It also helps keep your house warm for longer periods of time. When the ambient indoor temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, your house becomes less energy efficient and loses heat faster. As the gap between the outdoor temperature and your home’s interior temperature widens, the rate of thermal energy loss increases. Even lowering the temperature by a few degrees will slow down the heat transfer process, saving you money and energy as a result.
Optimizing Your Home’s Thermal Efficiency With Your Thermostat
It takes a little know-how and common sense to regulate the temperature of your home in the wintertime. If you take care to adjust your heater’s temperature settings and winterize your home, you will see lower heating bills.
Make Small Changes
Lowering your home’s temperature from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to a level in the mid-60s or lower can feel like a punishment if you make the changes too quickly. Kids and older people can be easily affected by drops in temperature, but making gradual adjustments should allow their bodies to adapt. Try lowering your heater’s temperature setting by one degree every few days, and keep plenty of soft wraps, blankets, and hot beverages around to encourage warmth and well-being. If your household is especially sensitive, consider making adjustments once a week.
Turn the Heat Down at Night
At night, try lowering your temperature setting below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Does that sound extreme? The fact is, sleep scientists say you’re likely to rest more deeply in temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A better night’s sleep can help you be happier and more alert during the day, and it may even help you control your weight. You’ll save money and improve your health, and you might even discover that keeping cozy under extra blankets feels pretty great.
Lower the Temperature When You’re Away
Lowering the temperature while you sleep will save you money, and you can save even more cash by keeping the temperature low when you’re away from home. When you leave your home for more than a few hours, whether it’s for work, shopping, or a weekend trip, try lowering your temperature settings to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s no reason to waste money and energy when your house is unoccupied. Effective heat regulation and an efficient heat transfer ratio correlate to energy savings, which means lower energy bills for you.
A Little Heat Goes a Long Way
It may seem like a great idea to shut off your heater completely when you leave for an extended trip or vacation. Unfortunately, wintertime shutdowns can cause your pipes to freeze and even burst if you live in a cold location. When you set your heater to keep your home’s temperature between 58 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll save money and energy while also protecting your pipes and appliances.
How Much Money Can I Save by Turning Down the Heat?
A good rule of thumb says that when it’s cold outside, you can decrease your home energy bills by 1% if you can lower the temperature inside by one degree Fahrenheit for eight consecutive hours. The longer you maintain the lower temperature, the more money you will save. By reducing your home’s temperature by 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day during the winter, you can save up to 10% off your entire home’s heating expenses. The savings can be greater during mild winters because you need less total energy to maintain your desired temperature and the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature will decrease, lowering your thermal transfer rate.
How to Reduce Your Heating Bills in the Winter
If you reduce your energy use in the winter, your energy bills will go down. Lower temperatures require less fuel to maintain, and when you reduce fuel consumption, you save money and contribute to better air quality and a greener planet. Follow the tips below to make the most of your heating system and save cash.
Program and Automate Your Thermostat
If you have a furnace, you can install a digital programmable thermostat so you can automatically adjust your home’s temperature to different preset levels throughout the day. You can preset your heater to automatically adjust the temperature levels at certain hours of the day, which means you can set the temperature to 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night, 58 degrees Fahrenheit when you go to work, and 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you get back home.
Put Your Thermostat In the Right Place
To maximize energy efficiency, it’s best to install your thermostat on a wall in a central, accessible area of your home where the temperature is fairly stable. Installing your control system in an area with unstable temperatures caused by drafts from doors, vents, and windows and direct sunlight can cause readings that don’t reflect the more stable temperature throughout the rest of your home.
Get a New Heater
Modern furnaces and heat pumps are more capable, efficient, and responsive than units of the past. When you adjust your heater’s settings, the air temperature will change more quickly. You should also have lower energy bills when you install an energy-efficient heating system. Whatever heat source you choose to use, make sure it is well-maintained and fully functional.
How to Winterize Your Home to Save Money
If you fail to winterize your home, turning down the heat will have little effect on your energy bills. These home maintenance tips will help you keep the heat in and the cold out, so you stay cozy.
Seal Thermal Leaks
Gaps and cracks in and around walls, windows, doors, floorboards, chimneys, ducts, and ceilings can let cold air in and let warm air leak out. Weatherstripping your windows and doors and caulking gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets, and wiring conduits will help maintain the ambient temperature in your home. As a result, your heating system will work more efficiently.
Winterproof Your Basement
Your home can lose up to 20 percent of its heat through an uninsulated basement. Insulating your basement can help prevent your home from losing heat through its foundation. If you insulate your basement’s floor, walls, and ceiling, you will dramatically improve your home’s energy efficiency. As a bonus, insulating your basement makes it easy to create more usable living space. Some states may even offer tax deductions for adding insulation to your home.
How to Control Airflow to Keep Heat Inside
To keep your home comfortable, you need to keep warm air flowing without letting it escape to the outside. Maintaining good airflow will help regulate the indoor temperature, while good insulation and clean filters will keep air from getting trapped or escaping to the outdoors.
Insulate Your Ductwork
Sealing your home’s ductwork will help heated air reach the right terminal air vents without escaping into crawl spaces or the outdoors. Insulating ducts and sealing them with metallic tape or specialized sealants will conserve heat, increase energy efficiency, and help you save money.
Use Fans to Circulate Air
Heat rises, and heated air will flow toward your ceiling. Ceiling fans can push this air back into the room and make the ambient temperature more balanced. They can also prevent your rooms from getting stuffy when you shut your doors to retain heat. You may also want to install air or duct vent boosters to help regulate your HVAC system’s airflow. These specialty fans sense when to draw cold air out of a room or pump in heated air, then responsively distribute heat to regulate temperature and maintain energy efficiency.
Clean and Change Your Air Filters
Heaters have air filters that need to be regularly maintained. Cleaning and replacing your filters reduces wear and tear on your furnace. It also maximizes airflow through your ventilation pathways, allowing warm air to freely circulate throughout your home. In winter, try changing out your air filters every month, or more frequently if they look particularly dusty.
Close Your Chimney Flue
Leaving your chimney flue open in wintertime lets cold air flow in while warm air escapes. These drafts will create continuous fluctuations in temperature, and your heating system will work hard to compensate for the changes. When you’re not using your fireplace, seal your chimney flue.
Position Your Furniture to Optimize Airflow
The position of your furniture and appliances can affect the flow of air in your rooms. Make sure your vents are not blocked by armoires, beds, and sofas, or refrigerators, freezers, and other large appliances.
Keep Your House Cozy
Investing in a few creature comforts will go a long way toward enjoying your home in the wintertime. When you acquire a few perfect blankets and throws to snuggle into as you sit by the window with a hot cup of tea, you’ll feel extra proud of the money you’re saving on energy bills.
Let the Sun Inside
In wintertime, most of the sunlight that shines through your windows transforms into heat. South-facing windows are the best source of sunlight. Open your curtains and blinds early in the morning, keep them open during the day, and close them when the sun goes down to capture and retain this free, readily available heat.
Use Throws and Insulating Blankets
A soft, beautiful sherpa, mink-textured, chenille, or cashmere throw will make you want to curl up on the sofa with a good book or your favorite movie. Down or silk-filled comforters; cotton, silk, and velvet quilts; wool blankets; and faux fur bedspreads are perfect for layering and keeping you toasty. Good blankets made of quality fibers are an investment in comfort that will last for years and keep you feeling wonderful when you turn down the heat.
Make Your Bed With Flannel Sheets
Soft cotton flannel bed sheets are a comforting, homespun luxury that will keep you warm during cold winter nights. They may even help you look forward to sleeping in on a cold night.
Drink Hot Beverages
Drinking hot tea, coffee, chocolate, or soup will bring your body temperature up for a short time while you get settled in your recliner with a soft blanket. A hot cup will warm your hands, and the steam can feel good on your face. Hot drinks can prevent you from getting dehydrated and make you feel happy and safe when the weather is cold and hostile.
Lower Your Energy Bills and Stay Cozy at Home
Freezing cold temperatures can be a challenge to your wallet and your peace of mind, but if you follow our money-saving tips, you’ll be sure to stay comfy as you make it through to spring.