How do I save money heating my house?

I have forced-air gas furnace which heats the house well, and almost enough insulation in the walls, but with natural gas prices what they are I need to know how to best control the temperature of the house. I did a search on Google with " house winter heating strategy temperature thermostat" and found a number of pages that use the same article for their information:

I live near Toronto and the outside temp is -20C to 0C for the bulk of the next 2 months. I have a programmable thermostat and currently have it set at 15C for sleep/away times and 19C for hometimes. There are suggestions that turning the thermostat down will save money, but there must be an lower limit to the savings realized when you have to warm up the house again for hometimes.

What is the most efficient setting for me to set the thermostat? At this point I am more concerned with saving fuel, and don’t mind if the house gets downright cold during the day/night.

My question is What are the optimal temperature ranges for hometime/awaytime? Does the second paragraph quoted mean that the lowest temp would occur at the point in time at which the house cools down and takes the same amount of time to warm up? If this is true, how do I determine that temp…trial and error?

You could add insulation in your attic if you have not already done that. You can lay batts above what is already there.

For gas heat the furnance can warm the house pretty quickly so you might be able to set it even lower when you are not there, but I don’t know how low you can go. I would try talking to friends and people who live near you to see what strategies they are using.

I live in NC so I don’t have these kinds of problems - we just need to stay cool during the summer.

Once again, I thank GOD I live in San Diego where I don’t have to deal with this problem! :slight_smile:

The hardest ‘temperature’ decision we have to make is whether or not to wear long pants or shorts when we get up in the morning every day.

My thermostat is permanently set at 55F (or about 13C). If you live alone, and don’t mind always wearing two pairs of sweats, it’s worked quite will for me. My average electric bill (I’m on an equal-payment plan) is only $22 US.:smiley:

You might want to consider ceramic space heaters as well. Since they run off of electric, they might be a little cheaper for you. Set your thermostat low, and use them to make up the difference.

Put towels at the bases of your doors to keep out drafts.

Keep the vents any seldom-used rooms shut off.

Make sure your windows are tightly sealed. Some people put plastic over their windows, but I prefer to put up heavy curtains to keep out the draft.

After you bake something, leave the oven door open to let the heat out into your house.

If you have ceiling fans, keep them on low to circulate the rising heat back down.

Vent your dryer exhaust inside the house, catching the lint with a water filled trap (available at most hardware stores). I do this & the whole house gets nice & toasty whenever I dry a load of clothes.

Try running a humidifier. Moist air will make you feel warmer so you can lower your at-home temp. setting and still feel warm. As an added bonus, it will cut down on the static electricity.

Actually, it will be easier for me to tell you what I did to my house:

  1. Update any weatherstripping around your doors. My dad (a contractor) always rattles off some amazing figure on how much actual space an 1/8" air gap at the door adds up to. Something like having a 4" square hole in your door (I’m not doing the math). Imagine that for every door and window you have and you’ll see why its hard to keep your house insulated.
  2. If you have a basement, stuff insulation in the gaps between the foundation and the ceiling (of the basement)/floor (of the first floor). Get where I’m talking about? This is basically uninsulated space around the entire base of your house.
  3. Again in the basement, use expanding foam insulation between the sill plate (the flat piece of wood that rests on your foundation) and the foundation. You might be surprised how much air leaks in through there.
  4. If you have old windows, put plastic over them (that heat shrink stuff). The plastic actually keeps the drafts out versus curtains that just keep the draft from blowing on your. Makes a huge difference. We are BLESSED in having new vinyl replacement windows and I LOVE them - they are truly God’s gift on earth, in my opinion.
  5. Find any holes to the outside and plug them with the expanding foam insulation. Places to check might be where your water line goes to the outside of your house, where your dryer vent exits the house and so on.

We also vent the dryer into the house in the winter - makes a nice difference; we run the ceiling fans (reverse them). Humidified air does retain the heat better, not to mention that it helps keep you from coughs, colds, dry skin and sinus infections. I grew up in a house that heated with wood, so I know the value of humidified air! :slight_smile:

All I know is I like BunnyGirl. :slight_smile:

Your utility company may be willing to do a home energy audit for you (this is where they come and check for air leaks and tell you ways to make your house more energy efficient). This varies depending on where you live. If they don’t do one yourself, to feel where cold air is coming in. A candle or incense stick can be used to help see draghts.

In addition to the already excellent suggestions–check around your outlets. This is a surprisingly common and large source for heat leaks. You can buy foam insulators for outlets at your hardware store (or make them yourself out of thin foam). You just unscrew the cover plate, place the foam over the outlet (with cutouts for the plugs receptacles themselves) and screw the cover plate back on.

I can’t stress how important windows are to keeping your house heating bills down. If all Americans had energy efficient windows the energy savings would be roughly equivalent to the energy coming through the Alaskan pipeline each year. Make sure the weather stripping is good, the storm windows are shut if you have them, etc. That plastic shrink wrap stuff works wonders.

Also–make sure your furnace filters are clean and your furnace is tuned up. I’ve read that gas furnaces should get tune ups every 2 -r 3 years to keep them operating at max efficiency.

Wrapping exposed pipes and getting a water heater cover can also help.

Go with the window insulator kits (the plastic you shrink with a hair dryer). Your furnace will run half as often.

When you’re installing the plastic, you can actually see the draft blowing the plastic out until you shrink it. The amount of air leakage is surprising (especially with older windows).

cantara, the second paragraph you quote refers to the “common misconception” that Mjollnir asked about in this thread right here, which you might also be interested in.

As far as the most efficient “low” setting of the thermostat, lower is better. It’s just that, if you set it REALLY low, then

  1. your house takes an uncomfortably long time to heat up,
  2. since solid objects (like chairs) heat up more slowly, the house might be uncomfortable even after the air is up to temperature,
  3. at some point, it’ll take so long for your house to cool down that you’ll get back home before the furnace kicks on, and
  4. if you go too low, your pipes freeze.

If you have the stomach for it, I’d suggest setting the “low” temp lower and lower each day until you find it uncomfortable.

…here’s another tip that may help, after you’ve insulated everywhere that you can.
We have radiant hot water heat in our home, and I put large pieces of cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil behind each radiator that is on an outside wall. This reflects heat that may have been absorbed into the wall back out into the room, where it is needed. Our heat bills dropped by 5% over the winter since we tried this. We may be able to save more, but our son has a habit of not closing the door tightly behind him when he comes and goes. :mad:
If you have forced air vents in the floor that are near an outside wall, you may want to prop a piece of foil-wrapped cardboard between the vent and the wall. It won’t look very nice, but you can always shove it in the closet if you are having fussy company over.;)I haven’t tried to do this with forced air heat, but it would be very inexpensive to try it. Looks like this whole winter is going to be costly <sigh> —every little bit helps.

It is not a good idea to vent your clothes dryer into the house if it burns natural gas/propane/any other carbon-bearing fuel. Although you can capture wasted heat this way, it is also a good way for a person to “assume room temperature” and not really care about heating the house anyway. Carbon monoxide is a sneaky little gas… odorless, tasteless, and hemoglobin greatly prefers its company to that of O[sub]2[/sub].

Also, ASD posted this link: in this thread:
It has a lot of suggestions for improving overall energy efficiency, and gives estimates on savings based on location (climate, energy prices, etc.).

Use small space heaters to heat selected parts of your house, but don’t try to heat the whole house that way as gas is cheaper then electric heat. the dryer is a good sugestion even w/ a gas dryer if you have a CO detector (you might want 2 as a backup. a wood burning stove can be a cheap way to heat you house depending on the price of wood in your area (or just sign up for every mailing list you can find and have a supply of ready to burn junk mail delivered to you daily)
Also If you have an attached, unheated garage, check to see if the common wall is not dammaged w/ holes.
consider a kerosene heater to heat larger sections of you house w/o heating the whole thing.
close vents when you go to sleep except for the bedroom and the bathroom (you don’t want that room cold in the middle of the night) reopen them the next morning, repeat. Anyone know if they make vents on a timer.
close the fireplace flu - which is what I am going to do right now

A word of warning. Kerosene heaters are illegal to use for home heating in most areas. If you start a fire with one, your homeowners insurance will not pay. They CAN be used safely, be sure you keep a window open a crack for air, as they burn the available oxygen in the room. Never turn your back on one, not even for a minute. A friend had one malfunction, while she was sitting not 5 feet away, and she had pretty major damage to the room, although she did not lose the house.

The hose came off the back of my dryer a couple of days ago and I realized it when the kitchen windows were all steamed up and when I went into the wash room and everything was coated with a wet film. Does the water-filled trap capture that water so it doesn’t go into the air?

A number of years ago I owned an old house in New York and I had it painted one summer. Two years later the paint was peeling off and the contractor brought out a specialist to find out what was causing the problem. He discovered that I was venting my dryer into the laundry room and the moisture was going through the walls and causing the outside paint to raise up. To tell you the truth I never had a visible moisture problem inside like I described above so it never occured to me it could be damaging anything. It was a very large house and drafty so maybe that’s why. Since, I have confirmed this from other sources because I thought he was BSing me to get out of fixing it, which he did anyway.

3-M or Scotch (either or both, can’t remember) make a clear saran wrap looking sheeting which you can cover your windows with (leaving a pocket of air between the plastic and the pane) by heating around the frame with a hairdryer. This does wonders for insulating most homes.

Wow, excellent point! I didn’t even think about that because we have an electric dryer.

If you have a gas dryer, I wouldn’t even take a chance with this regardless if you have a CO2 detector or not. Especially if you have small children or animals. Better safe than sorry.

Aw shucks!