Most Efficent Home Heating Strategy?

Being out on my own and having complete control over the furnace, I need to start heating the place up cause it’s starting to get cold in here. Now, I’m trying to save as much gas (natural gas) as possible and I don’t mind putting on a sweater or jacket while I’m inside the house. So, which strategy is best and most efficent:

  1. Set the thermostat to something like 65 degrees or so and let the furnace work fairly continuously
  2. Turn it all off whenever I’m gone and then let it come up to 65 or so whenever I’m home
  3. Turn it all off pretty much all the time and bring it up to 70 or so whenever I feel cold, then turn it back off and hope all the heat doesn’t radiate out too quickly
  4. Buy a space heater and hope that the money spent in extra electricity is less than the amount of gas used. Move the heater to wherever I am.

Get a programmable thermostat. Otherwise, keep it cool until you need the warmth. You will save energy by letting the place cool down but it can take a long time for the furnace to bring the temp back up. Turning it down to 50 may save gas but waiting 3 hours for the temp to come back up may not be acceptable.

I agree with the prog thermostat. There’s a point (8 degrees? 10?) below your comfort setting, below which your setback doesn’t save money. Usually, folks have a small setback for sleep, and a bigger one for when nobody’s home. If you stay up late one night for New Year or something, don’t forget to override.

Running the furnace’s fan all the time will even out cold spots; some folks disagree with this method.

Can’t get a programmable thermostat, as it’s a rental house and now is not the time to bring up such matters with my landlord. Nice thing is that it’s a small house with the furnace underneath and the hot air coming from registers in the floor, so it shouldn’t take much to heat it up.

Switching out a thermostat is a simple procedure. Save the old one and switch it back when you move out. Really, it only takes a few minutes. Even if you leave it and stay through the winter you will probably save the cost of the thermostat.

My mother once rented a house whose entire 3-4 story south side was a glass-enclosed greenhouse. Sun heated up the greenhouse, a ventilation system carried the hot air to a slab underneath the house, which radiated the heat to any part that wasn’t getting heat from the greenhouse directly. Toasty warm all winter! Every floor had a balcony looking out over the greenery. The gray water from the shower helped water the plants.

Of course, I could see that a landlord who won’t even go for a programmable thermostat might be a tough sell on this one… but it DOES work!

Precisely what I’ve done in my rental apartment. Lower level of a 2-story house; no storm windows; old thermostat. Switched it out. Will give the landlord a chance to purchase it from me when I leave or just take it with me. No big deal – necessary to take control of your own living space even when renting, within reason.

Plastic insulating film over windows which aren’t opened during winter. $40 oil-filled 1500W electric space heater.

Prog. themostats are the way to go.
Don’t even think about Turning off and then warming it up when you get back. It is fuellish.

Given that it’s been proven multiple times on this Board over the years that turning off the heat and then turning it back on when you’re home does in fact save energy, what are you basing this assertion on?

Before we get to having Shirley Ujest pony up a cite, how about yours?

I’d be interested to see how this has been “proven”, let alone many times.

3 Degrees


A few degrees

This translates to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the room temperature portion of the scale.

Incidentally I installed a wood stove in my basement at the tail end of last winter and am amazed that my furnace has only a cumulative run time of one hour on it thus far this heating season (Ottawa). And I’ve only burned maybe 15 pieces of wood.

First off, they made the claim, so they get to “pony up” first. That’s sort of the way it works in GQ.

Second, where’s your cites? Are you claiming that thermodynamics doesn’t work for houses and furnaces now? The heat lost between the house and the environment outside is a function of the temperature differential between the inside control volume and the outside atmosphere. The greater that heat difference, the greater the heat lost. If the house is maintained at a lower temperature through the day, then there is less heat lost. This is sort of the whole concept of programmable thermostats in the first place. Why do you think programmable thermostats save money, anyhow? They lower the temperature during the day, and raise it before you get home. That’s only somewhat different from manually setting it lower yourself before you leave and raising it after you get home. And it works the same way with air conditioning too, except there is the added variable of controlling humidity, in which case it’s not so much of an energy situation as a comfort and mold control situation.

Third, did you try using the Search engine here first? I know it misses a lot of links, I had to try many different permutations to find some threads, but still, there’s at least some that are easy to find.

And here’s some sample calcs by me, using a rough example, showing you how you figure it out yourself:

Fourth, there’s always the Net. There’s too many to really list, and you can dig through the DoE site for a while, but aside from some like Leaffan provided, this was my first Google hit:

So what are your cites? What is your basis for believing that lowering the thermostat does not save energy? I’d be happy to look over them, and your calculations. I expect your next post in this thread will have some sample calculations or links to such to share with us.

FTR, you’re basically saying the same thing I am in your post over here, just for an air conditioning situation:

You seem to understand at a minimum the basics (and possibly much more) and agree with what I’m saying. So what’s up? Do you just want me to “prove” it to you with thermo why it works like I do to my students? If we had time we could break it on right down to the 0th, 1st, and 2nd law, and set up all our assumptions and go through the differential equations, but I’m not going to when it’s already been done in simple algebra form, and I think you’re saying the same thing I was (in the other thread) but from the aircon side anyhow…so where’s the beef?


I’m thinking of implementing some changes in the heating strategy of my parents house. I excuse my self in advance for the lack of vocabulary with some words.

In winter it usually doesn’t get colder than -5°C.

So my parents have a 3 story house with additional story that is the basement where the boiler is located. The house is touching the neighbouring houses. We have a programmable thermostat in the living room in the ground floor. Finally, all radiators have a manual knob, but I’m not sure each of the radiators pipes are independent the one from another. that means if closing the knob from one radiator means condemning the flow on the others, but I highly doubt it.

As it was said before the only inconvenient of setting the temperature very low when people are away is that it takes time to bring it back up when needed, so trials and errors must be made especially if we don’t have a learning programmable thermostat right?

So what is the best way to know how much time it needs to heat up? should I make some calculations or should i just test it? What temperature should I let the house cool down to before starting the test?I also guess that external parameters like external temperature and wind speed will affect the heat up time, but will it affect it alot?

Secondly, I’m not sure about it but I think that the radiators in the ground level are hotter than the ones in the top floors, so when the living room ideal temperature has been reached, the system shuts down and the rooms are still a bit chilly. I tend to think that if I turn down the knob on the radiator on the ground level, that the heat emitted in the 3 floors will even out. Is that right?

BUT, I’m afraid than when I will leave my parents house to go back to my country where I study, if I turn the knob on the radiators in my room in the third floor the system will not perform efficiently since the water coming back to the system from the ground floor (living room) will be hot.

Sorry for this long question.

I started a thread recently about spray foam insulation. It’s about double the R value of regular insulation.

another thing you can do is put a nylon panty-hose over your dryer vent. then let the hot moist air come into your house. helps a lot. no sense in sending heat out the house.

I have no opinion about the listed options, but I do have alternative advice.

I live in a small home (950sqft) with a wall heater in the living room. Do these things to reduce your gas consumption.

(A) Close off the heating vents in any unused room and close the door. Don’t heat a room you don’t use. I learned this on a trip to France. The homeowner there closed off the living room during winter.

(B) This applies as well to the bathroom. You don’t live in it (I assume) so keep it unheated and the door closed.

© Keep closet doors closed.

(D) Let the sun be your friend. Open curtains on any side exposed to the sun and while you are gone, close the doors. Those photons will heat up a closed room pretty well.

(E) Close curtains when the sun goes down.

My home is well insulated and following my own advice my wall heater runs for two to three hours each day, even during the coldest part of winter. And yes, I do use a programmable thermostat. They are winner devices. And they are programmed to never let the heated portions of the house drop below 16C (60F).

Incorrect. It is a sensible saving on fuel.
( Just as long as you don’t have the pipes freezing and doing damage ? )
Fuel used in total = time * change in temperature * surface area to the outside

So if you reduce the time, or reduce the increase in temperature, or reduce the surface area, you get a saving from anyone and more savings from combinations.

There are savings in price between furnace fuel and electricity and gas

Electricity is good for green house gas perspective,

  • reverse cycle air conditioning can save on the CO2 produced,and the energy bill,
    by sucking energy in from the outside air, a few Joules per Joule…
  • electricity can come from renewable sources. (No CO2 produced)

What kind of heat to you have, steam, hot water or forced hot air?

I have steam in a free standing house. I set my heat to come on half an hour before I wake up and come home, and drop down to about 55 F 15 minutes before I leave in the morning and at bed time.

I would recommend nice warm bed slippers, big cotton cardigans, and keeping the bathroom warm.

The steam starting to hiss out of the radiator is a warm and pleasant sound to wake up to.

One thing you might want to consider is the placement of the thermostat. Is the temp on the thermostat the same as the temp where you spend the most time in the house? For instance, if the thermostat is near the kitchen, it may be hotter, which will cause the rest of the house to be cooler. While you can’t relocate the thermostat easily (esp in a rental), you can buy a thermostat with a remote sensor. This probably won’t save you much money, but might make you more comfortable.