Nothing blows a budget more than when temperatures go down and thermostats must go up. And with the increasing cost of energy costs that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
But did you know you are probably spending more money on heating bills than you have to? Every winter, consumers fall victim to myths that cost them precious dollars.
Well, no more! Here is the truth about home heating myths that you need so you can start saving today.
Myths about Home Heating that are Costing you Money
Heating Myth #1
I’ll save money if I close the vents and shut the doors of unused rooms.
It seems like a practical idea (why heat unused space, right?) but in fact what will happen is that you’ll throw off the balance in your central heating system.
The airflow in the system is designed to evenly heat your whole house. Shutting registers will make your system work inefficiently, starting and stopping more frequently than it’s meant to.
You’ll actually be using more energy rather than saving it, and creating a greater chance of system breakdown.
Don’t forget that warm air naturally flows into colder spaces. Since the inner walls in our homes are usually not insulated, the unused room will still pull in heat from the rest of the house.
Before you know it, you’ll be turning up the thermostat to compensate for the heat loss. Bye bye savings!
Heating Myth #2
The upper floors will be warmer if I heat the basement too.
The only thing you’ll accomplish by heating a basement is having a warm basement. Which is great if you use your basement, but otherwise it’s a waste of money.
Only a small fraction of the heat will make its way upstairs, not nearly enough to offset the cost of heating that dank, damp space.
Dollar for dollar, you’re better off only heating the rooms you’re actually using.
For more effective energy savings, invest in good quality insulation between the basement and first floor.
Don’t forget to insulate the water heater and hot water pipes in the basement, too, to prevent excess heat loss.
And if your feet are cold because your floor is cold, put on a pair of slippers. Hard soled slippers go a long way to feeling warmer inside. Make sure every family member has a pair!
Heating Myth #3
The higher I set the thermostat, the faster my house will heat up.
A furnace only has two settings, on or off. Cranking the thermostat up won’t make the heater work faster! It just makes it work longer to reach that higher temperature.
Put it this way:
Say it will take 10 minutes to reach 74 degrees. If you set the thermostat to 80 degrees, it will still take 10 minutes to reach 74.
And then the heater will keep running another 20 minutes to raise the temperature to 80!
If you forget to turn thermostat back down, it will keep running trying to keep it that warm!
To change how fast a heater works, you have to change how much energy it uses and therefore change how many BTUs of heat it produces.
Many portable heaters allow you to change the amount of electricity used by the heater (from 600 to 900 to 1500 watts) but most central heating systems don’t have this capability.
But keep in mind, the energy used to raise the temperature one degree doesn’t change – higher wattage just gets it done faster.
Heating Myth #4
My pipes will freeze if I don’t heat the whole house.
Frozen pipes are a real hazard in cold weather, so it’s reasonable to be concerned about this potential problem. However, heating the whole house just to keep a few feet of pipe warm is costly and inefficient.
Alternatives exist, such as heat tape, which provides heat directly to at-risk plumbing and operates at just 3 watts per foot. Or use this foam insulation which easily fits around your pipes.
If you live in a location where pipes only occasionally face the risk of freezing, the cheapest preventative is to turn off the water at the meter and open all the faucets when the temperature drops below 20°F.
Heating Myth #5
It’s cheaper to leave the heat running all the time, even when I’m not there, instead of heating it up again when I get home.
Though you’ll hear people argue otherwise, science makes it clear that it will cost you more to keep your house warm when you’re not there than it will to heat it up when you come home. There are two principles at work.
First, heat naturally flows into colder areas. Second, the bigger the difference in temperatures, the faster heat transfer takes place. Therefore, the warmer you keep your house, the faster it loses heat.
When the heater is working, the warm house is continually losing heat to the cold outdoors. The heater must work constantly to keep it at the set temperature – “topping off” so to speak – even though no one is in the house enjoying the heat.
All that heat – and all the energy used to create it – is lost.
So while your heater will have to work hard to bring your home back up to comfort levels again, it’s still cheaper than it is to run the heater the whole time you’re gone.
The U.S. Department of Energy agrees, and has stated that setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours a day (while you’re at work) can save you 10% on your heating bills.
If you have trouble remembering to set your thermostat back when you leave (or you want to ensure that it’s warmed up nicely by the time you get home) invest in a programmable thermostat.
Hopefully this has helped dispel these common home heating myths for you. Now, on to slashing your home heating bill!
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