10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Every winter brings with it the disappointing prospect of the heating bill. With Canadian winters always being so cold (and seem to be starting early this year here in Alberta), it’s important to consider the impact on your heating bill.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you can to reduce your overall costs. Even as you plan for higher costs each year, you can work to keep things as cost-efficient as possible so you aren’t paying more than you have to.

Here are 10 ways that you can reduce your heating bill:

  1. By setting your thermostat to 20 degrees, you can reduce your heating bill by 5% to 10%. It might seem a little bit chilly, you might be surprised at how you can get used to it. After all, once it 25 degrees in the summer, you wish it could be 20 degrees again. 20 degrees really isn’t too bad, and it can save you a decent amount of money, especially the colder it gets.
  2. Reducing your heat by 4 to 5 degrees at night or when you are out of the house can save 15% on heating costs. There’s no sense in heating an empty house. And, at night, you can actually benefit from the lower temperature setting. Studies indicate that you will sleep better when you are in a cooler room. The easiest to do this is with a programmable thermostat like Nest (which can save you money in a lot of ways). That way, you can program the heat according to your regular schedule, so that you don’t forget to turn it down.
  3. With all this lowering of temperatures you might be concerned about still being comfortable. Before heading to the thermostat, try putting on socks, a sweater, or a blanket. Adding layers is fairly easy, and you might be more comfortable anyway. Cuddle up with a cozy blanket while watching TV, or put on a pair of thick socks before bed. Where sweaters regularly, and you’ll be more comfortable, even with the temperature set at 20 degrees.
  4. Turn your water heater down to 50 degrees instead of 60 degrees. If you can’t keep the back of your hand under hot water coming out of your sink, it’s being heated more than necessary. Plus, if you have kids, you’ll have greater peace of mind, knowing they won’t be scalded.
  5. If you have an older, inefficient water heater, you can insulate it with a water heater jacket. These aren’t that expensive, and the cost can be quickly recouped from your monthly savings.
  6. Reduce hot water use by using a low flow shower head and setting your washing machine to use cold water. These are tactics that can help you avoid using your heat to boost water temperature. The less hot water you use, the lower your heating bill will be.
  7. Keep windows and doors closed so that heat does not escape the house. For the same reason, only run bathroom and kitchen fans when needed since they will blow the warm air out of your house. You’d be surprised at how often the warm out leaks outside because you leave the door open while you just run next door for “a couple minutes” or because you have your window cracked.
  8. Let the sun in during the daytime, especially in south facing windows, to heat up the home. Close blinds and curtains at night as it adds an extra layer of insulation to the window. Not only can letting in the sun warm you, but it will also help you improve your mood, fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months.
  9. Do you feel a draft in your house? You can check for leaks around windows and doors by holding a candle flame along the frames. If the flame flickers or smoke blows sideways, you’ll know there is a leak that might be able to be fixed with caulking or weather stripping. Don’t forget about your outlets, either. These are often sources of air leaks.
  10. Have your furnace inspected and tuned every one to two years. This will ensure that it’s running safely and efficiently. In between servicing, check the filter to make sure is clean.

These are fairly simple steps that you can take to reduce your heating bill. However, just because they are simple, doesn’t mean they are ineffective. You might be surprised at how much money you can save each month with a little effort.

With Canadian winters being so cold, it's important to consider the impact on your heating bill. Here are 10 ways that you can reduce your heating bill.

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of Canadian Finance Blog. While you’re here, consider signing up for the RSS feed or email subscription. Both deliver the latest articles directly to you! You can also follow me on Twitter for all the latest posts or to send me any comments or questions!

10 Responses to 10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

  1. Great suggestions. Definitely maintain your furnace. I believe it should be every year. Keep it clean and make sure you change the filter, especially during the winter months!

  2. Setting the thermostat to 15 or 16 at night seems a bit excessive to me. Any energy savings would likely be wiped out by health issues for me.

  3. Here in Nova Scotia, there is a levy on electricity that goes into a fund to pay for some of these fixes for homeowners. I had them fit out my house last summer with all new CFL bulbs, wrapped the water heater, gave an efficient shower head, etc.

    Since we’re forced to pay for the program anyway, it makes sense to take advantage og=f any savings it will potentially bring.

    My best heating advice would be to install an air source heat pump. The o=upfroont cost is high (around $4000 for our high-end model) but the return is great. Already this winter we’ve cut our heating cost by at least $500 compared to last year.

  4. Buying cell shades or solar blinds for your windows can reduce heat loss dramatically. Solar blinds are most effective for improving energy efficiency by reducing solar heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter.

  5. Drafts I think are a real killer in Canada, where we have a lot of cold weather. I live in St. John’s, NF, and we keep our heat at 18 degrees all winter. Even at that modest level, the heat bill keeps going until early June, and starts again in late September – i.e. only July and August electric bills are ‘heat free’. We noticed a big difference using programmable thermostats and CFL bulbs and sealing and blocking drafts – about a 20% reduction in our situation.

  6. I think #3 is a big one. I find that just wearing socks makes me feel like I’m 5 degrees (F of course) warmer than without them. This then allows us to turn down the thermostat without feeling like we are living in a Scandinavian country!

  7. These are all really great tips. We check for drafts every fall and spring to make sure we are not throwing money out the windows and doors. On top of that we got a programmable thermostat so that it would automatically drop them temperature when we left for work and then would gradually rise until it was the desired temperature when we got home. It has saved us a substantial amount of money more than covering the cost.

  8. Good topic to bring up. I recently was looking for some small ways to save some extra cash and began cutting back on the heat during the night. I find this to be a great method especially since you really don’t notice any change.

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