Money & Career

How to lower your heating bill this winter

Did you know that setting your thermostat just one degree lower will cut your energy bill by three percent? Find out more ways to save on heating costs this year.

Chilly thermostat with earmuffs and a scarf to keep toasty warm

iStockphoto

My father-in-law lived through the war and spent years working in both the Arctic and Antarctic. In the winter, he keeps his thermostat at a chilly low temperature, but it’s not because he prefers the cold — he’s just frugal and old school when it comes to heating. Complain to him about the cold and he’ll tell you in his thick Scottish accent to put on a sweater and run around the block a few times.

For many Canadians, the winter heating bill is a hefty monthly cost. And it’s not getting any cheaper (at least not in our house!). So how can you tame your heating bill without going to Arctic extremes? Here are a few tips:

1. Put on a sweater

You can cut your energy bill by three percent by setting your thermostat just one degree lower. Take it down three degrees and you’re saving nearly 10 percent. And, when you’re sleeping, throw on an extra duvet and crank it down even more.

2. Replace your furnace filter regularly

That dirty furnace filter isn’t just bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your heating bill. It reduces the airflow and forces your furnace to run longer and harder to heat your home. Give your furnace a break and save money by buying a new filter every three months.

3. Consider buying a new furnace

The older your furnace, the more heat you’re wasting. An old furnace made in the 1970s is typically about 65 percent efficient, meaning 35 percent of heat generated (and paid for) is literally going up in smoke. Some new high-efficiency gas models are nearly 100 percent efficient so just about all the heat generated stays in your house (and your energy bill goes down, that is if gas prices stay stable). Read more about gas furnaces here.

4. Install weather stripping

Weather stripping your doors will keep the heat in your house and the cold out. It’s cheap and, if you’re not a DIY-type, it’s a relatively easy process. Check out this how-to video.

5. Use a space heater

Our house is 100 years old — some rooms are freezing, while others are perfectly warm. Instead of cranking up the heat to get the whole place warm, we keep the thermostat pretty low and use space heaters in areas of the house that get the coldest. A note of caution: Make sure you pick a heater that is both safe and energy-efficient. More about that here.

Follow personal finance expert Caroline Cakebread at Twitter.com/ccakebread

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