How to Lower Winter Heating Bills and Save Money - A List and More

Latest update: January 7, 2022. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Another winter is here. This one might be colder than usual. Natural gas prices are expected to be 25% to 50% higher than a year-a-go.

Lowering winter heating costs is easier than one thinks. There's nothing exotic written here, think of it as a checklist of the things I do; hopefully some of the suggestions will prove useful.

Probably the most important concept on this page is the even distribution of your gas and electricity usage so as to remain at tier one for both utilities.

And here is a noticed observation: space heaters keep your body warm; gas furnaces keep rooms warm.

The older, nichrome wire space heater next to the bed.
Not for overnight usage; dangerous and expensive.

The Basics

For starters, I just turn the gas furnace off for the night. And I turn the thing off for the rest of the day around mid-morning. And it usually stays off until I get up next morning.

How do I do that and remain comfortable? Sweatpants. T-shirt. And a sweatshirt over the T-shirt. And slippers. Totally comfortable. And a knit cap certainly helps, but I seldom bother with that.

Turning the heat completely off at night works just fine for the fall and early winter seasons. But what about when it starts getting really cold, like in the 20s and 30s? The furnace stays off, but I put a nichrome wire space heater in the bedroom with the switch reachable from the bed. When I wake up and there is just no way I'm going to face that cold, I turn on the nichrome-wire space heater. Five seconds later, it is blasting away. Perfect for getting dressed in front of the thing. And I've saved an entire night’s heating costs. I get up, get dressed, turn off that particular space heater for the day and turn on the furnace.

Sometimes it is so cold that turning the furnace completely off just isn't feasible, but at least one can set the thermostat a lot lower than previously.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been expanded; more people now qualify. The link goes directly to the government website.


Another Tip for the Really Cold Days

Got a home office or other place where you hang out most of the time? Putting a ceramic space heater there is a lot cheaper than heating the whole house or apartment. At minimum, the furnace thermostat can be set much lower than would normally be the case.


This only works for singles and maybe couples. If you've got kids in other bedrooms, the above method may not  be a feasible option. And another note. If you live where freezing indoor water pipes are a concern, probably also best not to do as described here. For that matter, even though when only a single or couple, the coldness may reach a point where turning the furnace completely off isn't a viable option for other reasons; however, one will still be able to set the thermostat much lower than when not using the bedside space heater morning trick.

Also, pets and space heaters do not mix. Bad things can happen with a knocked-over space heater.

More About Space Heaters

Needless to say, judicious use is best; otherwise the electric bill increase will offset the gas furnace bill decrease. Surprisingly, I was able to get away with the 750 watt setting on the ceramic space heater most of the time; one really does want to avoid the 1500 watt setting whenever possible. I also frequently turned the thing off altogether; and I certainly turned it off whenever leaving the area, even if only for a few minutes.

On a personal note, I made it a point to not plug the space heater into the same electrical circuit as the computer, peripherals, etc.; but that's just me; what with the constant 750-watt surges coming and going all the time, the tech electronics probably wouldn't appreciate that.

And, yes. Space heaters are dangerous. Definitely obey the page full of warnings included with the unit. Forgetting and leaving the thing on is also a concern; strategically placed reminder notes are a good idea, e.g., above the bedroom light switch is usually wise.

Final Notes

There's the old adage about keeping the drapes closed, but personally I want whatever sunlight there happens to be. However, it's certainly not a bad idea to keep the drapes closed in those rooms you seldom frequent.

And there's the weather sealing. Feel a cold draft or stream of air coming from somewhere? Find the source. Describe it at the hardware store. They'll be more than happy to tell you exactly what you need to fix it and will give advice on how to install it. If it's at the bottom of a seldom used door, you can at least cover it with an old towel.

Come to think of it, are there any seldom-used rooms where you can simply close the vents and possibly the door? That will cause the gas furnace to heat the remaining rooms more efficiently. Don't close too many vents; that will cause the furnace fan motor to work harder than it should. And for the same reason, there's the usual cleaning or replacing the furnace filters.

The newer space heater I put under the home office desk.

Last, but not least: there's more energy-saving tips at, includes information and advice for water heaters and lights as well.

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