Heating a home is a tough, expensive business in the cold winter months, and many homeowners end up relying on what they think is ‘common sense’ to lighten the load on their budget. But how effective are those tips? The most well-meaning friend can give you advice that ends up hurting you in the long run, but without a comprehensive guide, who’s to know what’s real and what’s not? Well, look no more - we’ve got the top 5 home heating myths and the truths behind them, ready to help you heat your home in the most cost-effective, energy-efficient way possible. Get informed so you can make smarter decisions, and don’t forget to share with your well-meaning friends (who probably don’t know any better anyway)!
Home Heating Myth 1
”There’s no benefit to turning the thermostat down when you’re not at home. It doesn’t really save you money.”
And the flipside…
”You should turn your thermostat off when you leave to save money! Why heat a house you’re not in?”
The truth? Neither of these are good advice - the first isn’t true, and the second can actually cost you more (especially during the seriously cold days). First off, you can absolutely save money by turning down your thermostat a few degrees when you’re not home, and the same goes for when you’re sleeping. The Department of Energy says you can save up to 1% per degree you turn the thermostat down, as long as it’s turned down for at least 8 hours. But don’t turn your thermostat off completely! Not only will it be more costly to reheat your entire house, but no heat can lead to frozen and busted pipes, forcing you to spend money on a plumber along with your heating bill. Not so effective, if you ask us.
Home Heating Myth 2
”When you get home to a cold house, cranking the thermostat way up will help it heat up faster!”
Again...not true. Not even close. Your furnace works at the same rate no matter what temperature it’s trying to achieve. By setting it higher, you’re going to wait the same amount of time to be comfortable, but you’ll also most likely forget it’s set higher, meaning you’ll have to turn it down eventually and you’ll have wasted money to heat your home more than you wanted. Set it where you want it, and leave it alone.
Home Heating Myth 3
”It’s really only necessary to heat the room you’re in.”
”Closing the vents/registers can make your home heating system more effective and efficient.”
Only partially heating your home actually makes no sense (unless of course you have thermostats in each room, or heating zones in your house). Sure, it sounds good, but your furnace works hard to make sure there’s heat balance in your home, and by closing the vents or attempting to heat only one room you’re setting the furnace up to work harder, leading to increased HVAC maintenance and a shorter furnace lifespan.
Home Heating Myth 4
”Using a space heater is way more efficient than heating your entire home!”
Space heaters are not the worst thing to hit home heating, but they definitely have a time and place. If you’re in an area (like your office at work, for instance), where you’re only heating a small space and the space has poor insulation, a space heater can help keep you warm, but it won’t do much for the room itself. What it will do is jack up your electric bill (on top of your heating bill). That said, space heaters can be super helpful long as they’re battery powered. If the power goes out and your heat goes out with it, space heaters are your friend. Other than that, leave it in the closet.
Home Heating Myth 5
”A fire in the fireplace is a great way to heat your home!”
Honestly? This is just plain ol’ bad advice. Never use a fireplace to heat your home: fires use oxygen (air), and what air do you think your fire will use and then send up the chimney? That’s right: the air you just paid to warm up in your living room or bedroom. Instead, if you want to sit by the fire, try turning the temperature down a few degrees in that room while you’ve got the fire going, so your furnace isn’t working overtime when you’re warm by the fire anyway. Just don’t forget to put the fire out completely and turn the thermostat back up to normal when you’re done!