How we’re saving money this winter with our heat

I’ve talked about this a lot lately. The weather has been amazing this winter. I don’t like snow, cold, winter, driving in snow and all the other bad things that come with snow. The only thing I like about winter is cute clothes and boots (which has nothing to do with a heating bills, but oh well).

I’m sorry that I’m such a downer. I live for the summer, beaches and dresses.

Anyways, it’s been pretty warm, and I think it’s probably only dipped below freezing less than 5 times (if that even).  It’s usually really cold here starting in November, and we get blizzards and all of that other good stuff all throughout the winter season. However, it’s not like that right now. The other day I was able to go out in just pants and a short sleeve shirt because it was 72 degrees. That was just last week!

Our heat bills during the winter time can range from $150 (at the lowest) to sometimes $300. Right now it’s around$50 to $60, which is amazing! All of this extra money is going towards our vacations.

When the BF and I first moved in together, around 4 to 5 years ago, we first rented a small house (we’re talking like 500 square feet total).

At first, we never paid attention to the amount of heat that we would use, and our first (and second and third) bill was around $400 for a super tiny house. So obviously there are ways that you can save and watch your heat spending. Now we have a house around 2,500 square feet and our bill is extremely smaller, even when it is cold out.

There are numerous ways that we cut back on our heat bill:

  1. The weather definitely helps
  2. There are a lot of unused rooms in our house. We have a 4 bedroom house, and we really only use 1 (ours of course), so we usually close the vents in the 3 three other rooms to redirect the air. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t close more than 15% to 20% of your vents or it’s bad, but I’m not sure if that’s true. Does anyone know?
  3. This is going to sound crazy, but we always make sure our back doors are completely closed when we let the dogs out. If we just let them out really quick and don’t shut the door, our little dog tends to open the door wide open to come back in, and most of the time we won’t notice for quite awhile, and this wastes a ton of heat
  4. I bundle up. I would say we, but the BF insists that he’s always hot. I like to be bundled regardless if it’s hot or warm, but when I’m at home I tend to wear pants, layered tank tops and a sweater
  5. Someone is usually always home, since the BF and I have completely different schedules. I start work at 8 am, and he starts work around 4pm. However, we do try and lower the heat when no one is home, not too low though, just to around 70
  6. We keep the temperature at 73 degrees. I’m not sure if this is low or high, but it seems to be perfect for us
  7. We have new windows in our house that don’t have a crazy cold draft. This helps a lot

What we need to do in order to help our heat bill lower even further:

  1. We could lower the temperature more, but right now since it’s a decent temperature out, we’re not too worried with saving a ton of money on the heat bill. What does everyone else set their thermostat at?
  2. Our doors have a horrible draft, we need something to block the draft underneath
  3. We could buy space heaters, but for some reason these scare me because I’m afraid of a house fire
  4. Could get special block out curtains. We’ve thought about this, but haven’t gotten around to it. How much do these usually cost?

What else could we do?Are there any other things that you’re doing to save money?

Comments

  1. Lisa says

    I use the block out curtains, but my experience is more to keeping the heat out. We live in Central Florida and the summer heat is super intense. I have found that Target has great curtains for keeping heat out and also damping the sound from outside. They are in the curtain section, but in the kids area. @updated you on my blogroll too!@

  2. Miss T @ Prairie Eco says

    It sounds like you are doing a lot of good things already and you do have your improvement list. One thing I do besides bundling up is heating up magic bags. That way I can have the house cooler but snuggle up with a warm object and feel super toasty.

  3. graduate.living says

    I'm also always cold, and my BF is always hot!For Christmas last year, his parents got us a heating mattress pad (it can heat the whole bed or one side, depending on how its set). When I do schoolwork at home, if I get cold I turn on the mattress heater and read in bed (this has other drawbacks, namely me napping, but that's only happened once or twice). It was a great gift, and I have definitely gotten a lot of use out of it!

  4. Gina says

    Pretty much nothing to do with your post, well a little… BUT I love that you and Wes have been BOYFRIEND and GIRLFRIEND for so long! I'm getting sick of everyone asking us (me and Wes) "When are you guys gonna get married?"

  5. Juhli says

    You are doing a lot to help keep your bill down and fixing the drafts around the door would help a lot more. We keep our thermostat at 67 during the day and 65 at night for heating season.

  6. McVal says

    Our house is weird. It's roughly 3000 square feet, but my mother in law lives in the basement and is always cold and complaining about it. My husband and my room is way upstairs and it's always chill unless you keep the bedroom door open, in which case ALL the heat from the house accumulates in our room… And then there is complaining. My son's room is always hot, another daughters is always hot. There is no happy medium. So you either wear a sweater or not… We're on a budget plan with our heating company and ours stays right around 280-300 each month all year long.

  7. Mrs. Darcy says

    Great post! We need to lower our heating bills as well. I never really thought about closing the vents. We keep our heat around 70. It can be a little chilly, but feels fine with a sweatshirt and some socks!I totally agree with living for the summer. I know it is only January, but my mind is on sundresses and vacation!aspiretoinspire

  8. Live Simply- Live We says

    I am like you, I love the summer. We are lighting our fireplace every night and onlyturn the heat on in the morning to take the chill out of the air.

  9. Holly says

    Great tips! Since this will be our first full winter in our new home it's always good to learn how we can keep the ever growing heating bill down. Thanks!

  10. - Lesley says

    It's definitely not cute, but you can put plastic over your windows to prevent the cold air from coming in and your heat leaving. Also, make sure your windows facing the south always have sunlight shining through in the day because that's the warmest. Hope that helps!

  11. The Queen of Fifty C says

    One reason to keep at least a bit of heat in your unused bedroom is to help keep mold from growing, usually on windowsills. Of course if you're in a really dry climate that might not be an issue. We keep our thermostat set at 69 during the day and dial it way down at night, but the temp rarely drops below 65 before I get up in the morning. I'd rather keep adding layers to me than pay for more heat!

  12. Out My window says

    We need new windows! We also nee a new back door. Keep the heat at 69-70 we freeze at this temperature but I will also use a space heater in the shop. I do not run an air conditioner in the summer, so this helps with over all energy bills. I do think closing off vents in rooms helps. We have the vents turned off under the piano and under all of hubbies instruments to keep them from drying out. Hasn't hurt a thing. We also went around with that expanding foam and filled cracks in basement windows.

  13. working.for.money says

    Before we replaced our front door we dealt with a bad drafty door. To seal it better we placed a towel at the bottom to block the draft. It was amazing how much cold air came in through such a small slot. A new front door usually qualifies for an energy tax credit.

  14. femmefrugality says

    The weather has been amazing everywhere! I'm with you…the only thing I like snow for is skiing, and I can live without that if it means I don't have to put my life in danger every time I have to drive my car. Great heating tips!

  15. House of Sykes says

    We do several things:1. We bought a programmable thermostat last winter and it saves us a TON year round. During the day, the heat is on 68. By the time we get home from work, the house is a warm 72. It's opposite in the summer – during the day, the AC is set to 82. By the time we get home, it's a comfortable 78. Programmable thermostats are super easy to install and you can get them at Lowe's or Home Depot.2. There is one side of our house that gets the blazing afternoon sun. We bought thermal drapes for the windows on that side. In the summer, we keep them closed at all times. It has made a huge difference in how hard our AC works. We bought these drapes at Bed, Bath and Beyond.3. Back to the winter stuff. Sorry. I'm a summer lover too! If it's really cold outside, we'll use our gas logs from the time we get home till the time we go to bed. This prevents our heat from running at all. We used the logs all the time last year and the gas tank never ran out. It made a big difference and was super romantical!4. We keep a space heater in our bedroom. It is on the higher end, as you can set it to a temperature, and once the room reaches that temperature, it turns off. We could keep it on all night if we needed to, but we don't.5. We also keep the vents in unused rooms closed. I think it's a great idea.Those are just a few things we do.

  16. Lekker Leven Met Min says

    I usually just turn it on if I get cold, which is quite often late in the afternoon. During mornings, I am running around. If I'm gone all day, it won't be turned on at all. Last year, our house was really cold. We didn't want that for this year (also because of our wooden floors), but since we're used to cold now, it doesn't take much to feel warm.

  17. Tanner says

    All great advice. Haven't heard of closing a lot of vents creating any damage. That's the thing we do the most; close unused vents. Though make sure you keep those vents in the common area/near the thermostat open if you have a central air unit. Otherwise, it will have to pump a lot more air to reach a temperature. Cheap fans for the summer do the trick until it hits 88+.

  18. Annemarie @ Brunch a says

    I love this! I've been trying so hard with the heating/ac bill this year. It's been in the 70s/80s here in LA so I've been ecstatic knowing that I'm not using it at all. When it does get cold I try to bundle up like you said. It pains me to click that little thing on! Great post, as always!

  19. Becky R says

    I keep our thermastat at about 64 in the day and 62 at night. My son has eczema and it is better for his skin if it is a bit colder inside. I am always hot so it doesn't bother me but some people (like my mom) will complain that my house is freezing in the winter. At night we keep an extra blanket a the end of each bed in case someone is chilly. I have gas heat. I am on budget plan and my bill is $70 each month. Our ac unit is electric and we are also on budget option for electric. That bill is about $100 a month. I am in central NJ. Nov.-March are months we need heat (usually.) July, Aug, and half of Sept. we need the air (it gets so humid.) April, May, June, and Oct. no heat or ac is needed.

    • Anonymous says

      I think many people get obsessed with feeling warm but don't realize the unhealthy effects of higher room temperatures in winter. My sinuses start acting up as soon as temperatures go past 65 degrees. Higher temperatures can lower humidity levels(an actual tropical enviorment helps my sinus but tropical temperatures don't). The cold can suck moisture out of you as well. People spend tons of money on lotions in winter and yet all they have to do is lower the temperature a few degrees and drink water.Higher temperatures make it easier for germs and bacteria to survive. Higher temperatures make it easier for insect life to survive as well. So instead of many bugs dying off or hypernating for winter you can wind up with a bug problem in winter.And how the heck can you adapt to winter or summer if you try isolate yourself from the actual enviorment. I've seen people in warm climates turn the ac up to the point of needing sweaters. I say try to live inside as close to outside temperatures as possible.

  20. Frugal(er) says

    I agree with Lesly that plastic makes a huge difference. We have new windows too, but even then, I can sometimes feel the cold snaking across the back of my neck. When I lived in ND and had a drafty door, I bought a few "Draft Dodgers" from Bed Bath and Beyond <a href="http://(http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?WRN=-2092700035&MC=1&SKU=113172&RN=2093&amp;)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?WRN=-2092700035&MC=1&SKU=113172&RN=2093&amp;). I think they were about $10 each, but made a huge difference. I actually just nailed one to the bottom of the door so it was always in effect.

  21. Anonymous says

    73??? You keep your heat at 73?I would guess anything above 70 is excessive, personally, I have a programmable tstat, its 67 morning and evening, 62 at night, and afternoons when the house is empty.

    • Michelle P says

      I'm a very cold person, and even with the heat at 73 and my excessively bundling up, I am still freezing. I don't know what the average person puts it at, but I always feel like when I'm at someone else's house, their house is always warmer

    • Anonymous says

      I'd venture a guess at 70-72° for a average person… so I don't know how a walking into a cooler house would feel warmer. Maybe you should check on your furnace to see if eveything is working properly, as your warmer house shouldn't feel cooler.

    • Michelle P says

      I meant that whenever I walk into someone else's home, that their houses always feel warmer, so I assumed that our temperature was always on the lower end. I'm guessing that my friends are just wasting a ton of money though by heating their homes excessively. We have tried lowering our temperature, but we weren't comfortable because I don't like the cold at all.

  22. The Nerd says

    I had a coworker who was trying to save $$ and was failing, so she called up the power company to ask for advice. Turns out she was turning the heat down too much at night, so that any money she saved overnight was lost when she turned it back up during those times she was there. The official advice was to leave no greater than a 5-degree difference between temperatures. Me, I just keep it at 61F all day and all night – not for wimps!

  23. Noel Lynne Figart says

    If you want to save money, lower your heat and buy some long johns. I quite literally cannot AFFORD to heat my house to 70 in the winter. We keep it at 65 in the daytime and 60 at night (I live in Northern New England).Now, this does mean polarfleece loungewear for me (I grew up in the South), and not too much sitting still (movement keeps you warmer), but it's doable.

  24. Sage says

    Drafts are your enemy. Catching cold air movement before it comes into the house is a huge deal. The little draft–toss a folded beach towel at the bottom of the drawer if nothing else. Or the little black plastic strips that brush against the floor–those are super cheap at Lowe's/WalMart/etc. Google insulating with bubblewrap… it can make a pretty big difference at windows and it still lets in light. If you can't stand not being able to see out–even doing it on those rooms you don't use can be pretty handy. I'm also a fan of the blackout curtains.We keep ours at 71, and I'm often in normal (shirt/jeans) clothes or a nightgown with a blanket. 73 seems high–I think if you could/would make things more airtight, you'd see a BIG difference.

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