Tips for Saving Energy in Your Home: Heating

Heating expenses can get out of hand in the winter months, especially if your home has hidden leaks or large spaces to keep warm. While you can’t avoid the dreaded utility bills, you can lessen the load on your HVAC system and your wallet by making small or moderate improvements—whatever you can manage helps. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your energy use and expenses in check while keeping everyone in your home happy.

heat pump

Cover the Floors

Sleek hardwood floors and stained concrete are coveted flooring options these days, but unless you pair them with radiant heating, they don’t do much to keep your house warm in the winter. Thankfully, area rugs do more than add a dash of color and style to a room. They trap cool air on the floor, which means it doesn’t rise and fight with the warm air delivered from your vents. Cushy throw rugs also feel much cozier under bare feet than hard flooring.

Use the Sun to Your Advantage

In the midst of managing your central heating system, you may forget there’s a free heating system that shines right into your home. Open the drapes and curtains to let in natural sunlight, and make sure to clean your windows thoroughly to let in even more sunlight.

Retrofit Your Furnace or Boiler

Just because your current furnace isn’t the most efficient heating device on the market doesn’t mean you’re trapped in a corner and have to replace it. You can retrofit your current furnace or boiler in order to improve its functionality. Common retrofits include a vent damper that closes off a boiler vent that’s not firing, an intermittent ignition device, and derating gas burners to decrease fuel use. Many older models could benefit from these upgrades, but make sure to carefully compare the costs of retrofitting versus investing in a new and more efficient heating system.

If it is time to upgrade your entire heating system, consider installing a heat pump. Rather than generating its own heat, a heat pump exchanges cold and warm air between your house and an outside source. This make it more efficient, more stable, and less expensive.

Install a Programmable Thermostat


Updating or replacing your heating system is a pretty major upgrade. Thankfully, there’s a much smaller improvement that can make a big difference. If you leave the heat on full blast while you’re at work or sleeping, you’re wasting precious energy. With an older thermostat, however, you may have no choice in the matter. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat so that you can heat your home according to a schedule that works for you. Go the extra miles by installing a smart thermostat, which learns from your habits and routines to create personalized settings. It can also be controlled remotely via your devices.

You can save 5 to 15 percent per year on heating costs by turning down the temperature while you’re away or sleeping. A programmable thermostat ensures that you don’t forget to take advantage of this savings opportunity.

Maintain Your Heating System

While it may not seem like a big step, following your heating system’s maintenance guidelines can reduce your energy use and help it heat more effectively. Change or clean your furnace filters once a month or as often as your system requires. This will also help you avoid expensive repairs.

Improve Insulation and Seal Leaks

Your heating system works hard to keep your home comfortable. Don’t make it work harder by letting warm air seep out of hidden leaks. Check your ducts for holes and repair where necessary. Add insulation in your attic. Make sure to seal off gaps around windows and doors effectively, and consider applying low-emissivity window film that will stop the transfer of heat that causes heat loss in the winter. Caulking and weatherstripping are both cost-effective ways to close off small openings. If you make these improvements and still feel like you’re throwing money into heating your home, get a home energy audit so that you can identify problem areas.

Other helpful tips include:

  • Using space heaters. This is great for heating small areas where you spend much of your time, such as the couch while you’re relaxing at night or your desk if you work at home during the day. These can be dangerous fire hazards, however, so make sure they’re only turned on when you’re in the room, and that they’re  not obstructed.
  • Keep the flue in your fireplace closed to prevent warm air escaping.
  • Don’t block vents with furniture.

Learn more about heating repair and installation so that you can be sure which options are best for your home.

14 Responses

  1. Laurie

    Great tips. Energy audits are a great way to see where the weaknesses in your home are. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kyle

    I’ll never turn down tips for saving energy in my home. I liked your advice about using the sun to your advantage. It seems like the blinds are always closed in my house, but I can see why it would be important to open those so that the sun can come in. Thanks for sharing.

  3. April Cook

    Thanks for these tips on saving energy when it comes to heating. Coming out of winter, I think we used more energy than was needed and I want to be prepared to cut back next year. I think our boiler may be past the point of retrofitting, so we may need to rent one until we can get a new one installed. I’ll make sure to implement all these tips next winter and wee if we can get our energy use down. Thanks again!

    • Lauren Pezzullo

      We’re so glad this post helped you, April!

  4. Aria Wellington

    I appreciate your tip about sealing leaks and insulating. Having drafts in your home is like a leaky bucket; no matter how high you crank up the heat, it won’t make much of a difference. Making sure that those are sealed up as well as your heating system being up to par are great ways to saving money.

  5. Kenneth Gladman

    I like the idea of retrofitting your boiler. I have a sister who, after having her boiler serviced, increased her efficiency quite a bit. I would love to do anything to lower the monthly energy bill. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Nathan Johnson

    I recently moved my family into a new home. One of the first things I noticed about the house is that my energy bills were high in the winter! I like your ideas to save money on heating bills. I have never heard of a programmable thermostat before, but it sounds like a cool technology to look into. This has given me some good ideas to help for next winter. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Sam Wilkins

    Great tip about using the sun to your advantage. My husband and I are in the process of having a home built, and we were considering having solar panels installed. After reading through this, I think it would be a great way to use the sun to our advantage.

  8. James Bergman

    I love hardwood floors, but you are right that they don’t help much in the winter. I just try to use throw rugs and wear slippers in the house during the winter. When my feet are warmer I don’t have to have the temperature set quite as high which saves money and gives my heater a bit of a rest.

  9. My husband and I just moved into a new house and are trying to figure out how to prepare it now for winter. Thanks for the advice about how gaps in the window can cause a loss in heat. Another great idea would be to get windows that are built to trap heat inside and be more energy efficient.

  10. Charles Kemp

    I never thought about covering the floors. That would make it easier to deal with especially if you have tile floors or hardwood floors. I think it would help out a lot.

  11. Sarah Smith

    We spent a lot last winter on heating and are hoping to cut it this year. Thanks for the advice about updating your programmable thermostat and using space heaters. I can see how doing this could less your heating cost. I’ll have to get someone in to replace our thermostat that will give us a good deal and more advice.

  12. Kody Loveless

    Thanks for the tips. I had the hardest time keeping my home warm this last winter. I really think I need to get the heating system serviced. I have not had the system serviced since I bought the house 15 years ago. I am going to have someone come out this summer and give it a tune up. I think that will make next winter a little better.

  13. Gloria

    Leaks have been our problems during winter, even though we didn’t realize it immediately. We got a professional to check our house and see what other ways we could make it warm and cozy without placing all the burden on our heater. He really emphasized on fixing our home’s insulation and fixing leaks, and it worked!

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