Content Editor

You can actually pay more to heat your home by falling for one of these common home-heating myths! Many heating-efficiency myths seem to make sense, but in reality they end up costing you money.

Let's correct any winter-heating myths you've fallen for and get you on the right track for lower heating bills – for real!

Myth: Cranking the thermostat will heat your home faster

When you come home to an uncomfortably cold home and want to heat it quickly, you're not helping it heat faster by cranking the thermostat up all the way. Your furnace doesn't generate more heat when the thermostat is cranked, it will simply run longer. If you forget to turn the thermostat down, it will overheat your home and make you pay extra – to be hot and sweaty.

Instead, simply set the thermostat to the desired temperature. It will heat your home just as fast as cranking it would, but prevents inefficient and uncomfortable overheating of your home.

Myth: Leaving the thermostat at one temperature saves you money

Are you trying to minimize the energy needed to heat your home by leaving your thermostat at a constant temperature, regardless of whether you're at home or away? Please stop now. As explained above, your furnace's energy use is determined by how often and long it runs, or cycles.

Instead of leaving your thermostat at one temperature throughout the day,

  • Set your thermostat temperature lower when you're away from home. A homeowner can save 10 percent a year on heating by lowering the thermostat 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day, according to Energy.Gov.
  • Set it to a comfortable temperature when you return home, we recommend trying 68 degrees (if you can go lower you'll save even more).

Myth: Wood-burning fireplace save on heating costs

Your wood-burning fire requires lots of oxygen, which it gets from home's warm air. It then burns the oxygen and sends that warm heat directly up your chimney. Your crackling fire looks and sounds nice – maybe it feels nice, too – but it's not efficiently heating your home. And if you didn't get your firewood for free, remember that you're paying for that, too.

Instead, understand your wood-burning fireplace is for ambience – not saving money. If you would like to enjoy fires that provide an efficient secondary source of heat, consider converting your fireplace to natural gas. A natural gas fireplace insert makes fires more efficient, affordable and eliminates the messy hassle of wood. Get a clean, cozy and efficient fire with the push of a button!

Myth: Use space heaters to save lots of money

Space heater advertisements frequently claim that they can help you save on heating costs, causing many homeowners to incorrectly believe that electric space heaters are a more efficient heating source than a gas furnace or boiler. In Minnesota, it generally costs much less to heat a home (or large area) with a natural gas furnace or boiler, versus an electric space heater.

Here is what the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says regarding electric vs. gas heating:

 "…Electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in homes or businesses that use combustion appliances, such as natural gas, propane, and oil furnaces."

Why are advertisers allowed to say space heaters can save you money?

Once again, we'll quote the DOE's website, Energy.Gov:

"In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room."

In other words, if you want to exclusively heat a small area with a space heater, you could save money since your furnace/boiler is designed to heat your entire house – not just one room or a small area. However, in the Minnesota winter, it isn't realistic to heat only a small part of your house (assuming you have indoor plumbing) because your pipes could freeze and burst.

Only consider electric space heaters a potential way to add supplemental heat to a small, confined area (like a bedroom that's colder than the rest of the house). If you built an addition onto your home and it was infeasible to add HVAC ductwork, a ductless heating/cooling system might be right for you.

Myth: You must replace windows to stop drafts

If you're feeling cold drafts from windows, replacing them isn't the only solution. Many homeowners can significantly improve leaky windows with just a few minutes and dollars.

Instead, follow these winter window-efficiency tips:

  • Seal cracks/gaps around windows with caulk & weatherstripping.
  • Use shades, blinds, curtains or drapes to insulate your windows during cold winter nights.
  • Use a window film insulation kit on windows that still feel drafty.

Of course, if you'd like to get new high-efficiency windows they can greatly improve your home heating efficiency – that's no myth! Learn more about the benefits of ENERGY STAR qualified windows.

Myth: Winter is offseason for ceiling fans

Do you leave your ceiling fans off all winter and exclusively use them in warm weather? Ceiling fans are designed to create wind chill effect when their blades are in the normal 'cooling' mode, so most people simply keep them off all winter and let them collect dust.

Instead, flip the blade-direction switch on your ceiling fan when heating season begins; use your ceiling fan when you need warm air distributed more evenly.  Most ceiling fans have a winter setting that causes the blades to rotate in the opposite direction (clockwise). Instead of a downdraft, the fan blades will produce an updraft and distribute warm air near the ceiling down into your living space.

For winter use, it's best to keep ceiling fans on lower speeds with a slower blade rotation (to avoid creating a strong wind that could make you feel cooler). If you have especially high ceilings, such as in a loft, you might want to try a slightly faster blade rotation. Experiment and discover what feels best!

Myth: Closing vents in unused rooms will lower your heating bill

If you're closing or blocking vents or registers in an extra bedroom to save money on heating bills, it's time to rethink your strategy. Modern boiler and furnace systems are designed to heat your entire home; each vent and register plays an important role in balancing your HVAC system's air flow.

When you close vents in unused rooms, there are potential consequences:

  • Increased heating costs.
  • Decreased heating system performance.
  • Extra stress on heating system and decreased furnace lifespan.

Instead, keep all HVAC vents and registers open and unobstructed, allowing your heating system to function with proper air-flow pressure.

Heat Your Home Like an Expert!

If you're looking for additional easy and affordable ways to lower your heating bill, explore more of our HSP expert articles!