20 clever heating strategies that outsmart rising fuel and energy prices

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With household expenses rising, now’s the time to ensure your heating system is running at peak efficiency. Adopt these simple yet effective cost-saving measures to significantly reduce your heating bills.

Learn how to save on your heating bill with a smart thermostat used by a woman in her home.
Everything is getting more expensive these days. Learn clever tricks to reduce your home heating bills. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

In American homes, natural gas is the number one heating fuel. Following close behind is electrical heating, often used where gas isn’t available. Wood-burning appliances, though less common, are favored in areas with a sustainable wood supply.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential natural gas prices have surged by approximately 15% from 2020 to 2023, while electricity costs have increased by nearly 10% in the same period. The cost of solid fuels, such as firewood, is also on the rise.

These increases underscore the importance of adopting cost-saving measures for home heating. By making strategic changes to your heating practices, you can effectively mitigate these rising costs, ensuring your home remains warm without straining your budget.

Maximizing natural gas efficiency

Natural gas heating systems, such as forced-air furnaces, boilers and radiant heaters, offer unique opportunities for savings. These are general and specific ways to reduce costs for each type, ensuring efficient and cost-effective heating.

Radiator reflectors

Placing reflectors behind radiators will redirect heat back into the room, reducing the amount of heat loss into the wall. DIY reflectors are a budget-friendly solution.

Strategic furniture placement

Ensure that furniture is not blocking radiators or vents, allowing for optimal heat distribution.

Use draft stoppers

Block drafts under doors and around windows using homemade draft stoppers. Old towels, rolled-up blankets or DIY draft snakes can prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping.

Only heat-occupied rooms

Close vents or radiators in unused rooms and keep the doors closed. This concentrates the heating in areas where it’s needed most and can substantially decrease your overall heating bill.

Seal and insulate ductwork and pipes

In homes with ducted heating systems, sealing leaks and insulating ducts can prevent significant heat loss.

Insulating hot water pipes in a water-based system prevents heat loss between the boiler and radiators, improving system efficiency.

Cheaper electric heating

To save on electric bills, it’s important to understand your provider’s billing methods, including peak hour rates, tiered plans and usage incentives. Knowing these can lead to significant savings.

Take advantage of off-peak rates

If your utility company offers lower rates during off-peak hours, use programmable thermostats or add to your planner to heat your home during these times. Alternatively, set up notifications to remind yourself when power is cheapest.

Use ceiling fans in reverse

Running ceiling fans in reverse mode during winter can help circulate warm air more efficiently throughout the house. Most fans have a switch precisely for this reason.

Smart meters and usage monitoring

Install a smart meter to monitor your electricity usage more closely, allowing you to identify and reduce excess consumption.

Regular maintenance

Keep heating systems clean and well-maintained for optimal efficiency. For example, heat pump air filters require regular cleaning for best performance.

Use space heaters wisely

Instead of heating the whole house, use energy-efficient space heaters in rooms you’re actively using. Avoid heating hallways and bathrooms.

Efficient use of wood-burning stoves

If you have a ready supply of wood, or if the price of wood in your area is reasonable, a wood-burning stove can be the cheapest way to heat your home. On top of these tips for maximizing heat output, your energy bill can be drastically cut.

Use wood stove fans

Heat powered fans help circulate warm air throughout the house more efficiently, ensuring even heat distribution from your wood stove.

Optimize airflow

Adjusting the air intake on your wood stove can help you control the burn rate and improve efficiency. Reduce the time the air intake is wide open to conserve fuel.

Moisture meters for testing wood

Use a wood moisture meter to check the moisture content of your firewood. This ensures you’re using dry, seasoned wood, which burns more efficiently and has a higher heat output.

Wood stove water heating system

Incorporating a hot water heating system into your wood stove setup allows you to efficiently use the generated heat to warm water, adding an extra layer of utility and cost-effectiveness to your heating strategy.

Upgrade for efficiency

When your woodstove reaches the end of its useful life, upgrade to a more efficient model. Wood-burning cook stoves are best for those aspiring to be self-sufficient and off-grid.

Regarding wood stove features, Tiffany Parra, owner of heating appliance store Fire Pit Surplus, said, “As an online retailer, we sell the most popular wood stove brands on the market. The most in-demand add-on accessory for any wood stove is a blower. Customers love how it circulates the warm air across different areas, maximizing the stove’s heat output.”

General home heating tips

Beyond these cost-saving tips for home heating appliances, there are general ways to have a warmer home for less.

Utilize natural sunlight

Open curtains during the day to let in natural sunlight and heat, and close them at night to retain warmth.

Trim sun-blocking trees

Remove or prune trees that block sunlight from entering your home to increase natural solar heating and light during colder months. Mini chainsaws are excellent tools for light pruning, while larger tree or branch removal should be performed by a registered arborist.

Upgrade curtains

The best curtains for heat retention are thermal or insulated curtains. These curtains are designed with multiple layers, including a dense or foam core layer that acts as an insulator.

Use rugs on bare floors

Placing rugs on tile and hardwood floors can add an extra insulation layer and keep your feet warm. Alternatively, simply wearing socks will reduce heat loss.

Dress warmer

Wearing warmer clothing indoors can reduce the need to turn up the heat. Layering with sweaters, thick socks and blankets allows you to comfortably lower the thermostat, leading to impressive energy savings over the colder months.

Evolving home energy strategies

On top of these ideas, incorporating smart home technology, like energy management systems, can provide real-time insights into your entire home’s energy use, enabling more informed decisions.

Renewable energy options, such as solar panels, could offer long-term benefits, reducing reliance on traditional heating methods and offering potential savings. Additionally, engaging with community energy-saving programs or rebates can provide further opportunities to offset costs.

While some of these energy-saving hacks require more upfront investment than others, it’s these ideas that can ultimately lead to the most substantial savings and improvements.

By investing wisely in good heating solutions, homeowners can create a more energy-efficient living space that both combats inflation and stands the test of time.

1 thought on “20 clever heating strategies that outsmart rising fuel and energy prices”

  1. I love the idea of using a smart thermostat. But please make sure you have your thermostat in the right spot. If it’s too close to a fireplace, in direct sunlight, or in a room that’s much cooler or warmer than the rest, it might not get a good read on your home’s overall temperature. This can make your heating system work harder than it needs to. Moving your thermostat to a place that better represents the average temperature of your home can make a big difference.

    Reply

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