Every homeowner likes saving money on winter heating bills, and there are plenty of ways to winterize your home and upgrade your HVAC equipment to maximize your savings. However, in your quest to reduce your winter fuel costs, don't be fooled by some common home heating myths which range from useless to counterproductive.
Here are some tall tales to avoid when heating your home this winter:
- Crank up the thermostat to warm up faster: If you're reduced to shivering inside your home, you might be tempted to turn the thermostat up well past your preferred temperature to encourage it to heat up faster. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. If you want the home heated to 68 degrees, it will get there just as quickly by setting the thermostat to 68 as it will if you bump it up higher. Worse, once the house hits your desired level of warmth, the temperature will continue climbing if you don't adjust the thermostat again, and you'll be paying extra for the heat you don't want or need.
- A wood-burning fireplace is your ticket to wealth: It's nice to sit around the fire on a cold evening, but don't count on it to keep your home warm. A traditional fireplace set back in the wall won't do much to heat your house, and can actually help send hot air straight up the chimney. It is possible to get good value from a freestanding wood stove if it's a closed version designed for efficiency (not aesthetics), especially if it's a newer, EPA-certified model. It also helps to have a free or cheap source of wood.
- You can save big bucks with space heaters: You may have heard it's a good idea to turn down your furnace and use electric space heaters to warm your home instead, but space heaters aren't nearly as efficient as your furnace or boiler. What's more, if your furnace runs on gas, it's going to be a lot cheaper to fuel than an electric space heater. There are circumstances in which you can save money by using a space heater -- if you only need to heat a few rooms and can turn the thermostat down in the rest of the house -- but in general you're better off sticking with the furnace.
- Winterizing a house is too expensive: Even if you don't have the budget for large projects like installing new windows or beefing up your insulation, you can still increase your energy efficiency. Using weather stripping and plastic to seal leaks in and around your doors and windows is an inexpensive way to cut your bills down, and a small investment in caulk to plug any holes around your roofline can make a big difference. Other minor upgrades like purchasing heavy curtains to hang in your windows in winter can help keep you warm and cozy without breaking the bank.