12 Tips to Save on Your Heating Bills

by Merissa on October 8, 2012

in Featured, Thrifty Living

Post image for 12 Tips to Save on Your Heating Bills

Our first home was fairly small. Some how the builders managed to cram 3 bedrooms into less than 1200sq feet. I’m not sure how. We moved into the house in January, in South Dakota.

It. Was. Cold.


You know how on the info sheet for the house the previous owner is supposed to put how much the monthly utilities bill is? The previous owner for ours put down $78. Our first bill? $300. I was not happy.
We were used to living on less, not spending a lot on heat and in no way did we splurge. Previously to moving to our first house we have lived in a camper and only used a space heater and previously to that we lived in an very old house and only heated 2 rooms. There was no way our bill could be $300.

Over that first winter we learned a lot about saving money on heating bills and I hope that you can take something from our very expensive and still very cold first winter as homeowners experience.

1. If you think the bill is wrong, don’t be afraid to call the electric company. (Or gas or whatever heat source you have.) Our house had all electric cove heating. We received a 30% discount on our heating bill from October to March for using “green heat.” And our bill was still $300. Our first call was to the electric company. They sent an electrician out from the company and examined our heating devices and electric box. We learned that even if the heaters said they were off, they still took electricity until you switched off the breakers. (Nice, right??) It didn’t cost anything for them to come out and inspect and we learned a valuable tip.

2. Turn off the heat in the rooms you don’t use. When we first moved in we rarely used the living room and one of the bedrooms, preferring to hang out in the office. We heated that room, the bathrooms, the main bedroom, and the kitchen, and that was it. Unless you are concerned about pipes freezing under any of these rooms (which you could insulate) this works fine.

3. Insulate, insulate, insulate. At the end of the previous season stock up on the super cheap window sealers, door sealers, ect. We found ours for more than 80% off to use for this winter. It is amazing how much heat leaks out of your house from around the windows and doors! If you can’t afford those, just go with masking tape or painters tape. Not the prettiest but it works just fine and then you don’t end up with snow on your living room floor. (I may be speaking from experience here. )

4. If you meet the income guidelines you might qualify for weatherization help. There is no reason that anyone should be cold through the winter, especially if they are bitter, wind chilling, cold winters like we have here. Whether you rent or own you may qualify for weatherization assistance.

5. Put on clothes. Well, I hope you are already dressed! But through the winter, through on a few extra layers. Grab a couple comfy sweaters from a thrift shop or when you are out at rummage sales in the summer and snuggle in. You could even get a Snuggli. (even though personally, I’ll stick to my sweater) Wear whatever it is that keeps you warmest. And make sure you wear socks and slippers! I’m always 10x colder if I don’t have my socks on! I invested in a nice pair of slippers during Christmas clearance one year that are more like boots. They are great because then your ankles stay warm as well!

6. Flip the switch. On your ceiling fans that is. Most ceiling fans have a switch that makes them rotate clockwise or counter-clock wise. In the winter you want them to go in a clockwise direction so it pushes the warm air from the ceiling back down.


7. Use a space heater, with discretion. Something I learned from my grandparents.... Space heaters can be very expensive but they are the quickest way to warm up a room. If you turned the heat down in a room overnight, in the morning, shut the door, turn on a space heater and within a matter of minutes it should be heated up to a nice temp. Try and keep the door closed if you are staying in that room to keep the warm air in.

8. Embrace the sun! In the summer you try and keep the sun out so you keep the heat out. In the winter you want the sun to shine in to heat the house during the day (on the days that the sun is shining!) and then close the blinds or curtains at night to have the extra “covering” over the windows to keep the cold out.

9. Caulk.  Such a useful tool! Caulk around window and door gaps and anywhere else in your home where cold could seep in. Once you finally get the house warm you don’t need all the heat to creep out! Caulk is very inexpensive and easy to apply. Even I can do it and that's really saying something. 😉

10. Insulate your pipes. If the temp in your house is going to be down, or if it’s just all around very cold where your pipes are located and if you have access to them, insulate your pipes. You don’t need anything expensive, pipe insulation only costs a few dollars for several yards. Plus the last thing you want to be dealing with when it’s -40F outside with the wind and snow blowing is a burst water pipe, believe me.

11. Consider an alternative heat source. We installed a wood stove last year for about $300 including the stove, tile for the floor and walls and the piping. Shop around on Craigslist or even at a local Restore for a good deal but if you buy one used, make sure to have it inspected before you use it.

12. Get foam inserts for your outlets. We replaced all the outlets in our entire house because they were very old and we found out that a great deal of cold air rushes in through the outlets. You can buy a big pack of foam outlet inserts for only a couple dollars to put behind the outlet and block the cold air from coming in.

Follow all these tips and you should stay warm and cozy this winter! Make sure to stockpile your pantry for winter in case you get snowed it! And get prepared for some good old fashioned winter family time. 🙂 And of course find even more ways to save money!

How are Little House Living readers keeping their heating bills down this winter? Here are some excellent tips to try!

  • Thermostat as low as u can go. Cover up with blankets if u are cold, sweat pants, socks, sweater and hot beverages! Vickie L.
  • We try to keep our house temperature the same throughout the year - 66 degrees. I lower our thermostat during the day when no one is home. We keep rolled towels pushed against our two outside doors at the bottom to stop drafts from coming in and stop heat from escaping. We also have 2 small portable heaters that can be moved as needed. Kristen C.
  • We don't turn the heat on! Grab a sweater and start a fire. If you don't have a wood stove like we do, strategically placed space heaters work wonders. Also, cook in the oven every meal. Candles make a difference too, even if it seems minimal. Robbie S.
  • We turn our heater to 60 at night and have a infrared heater in our bed room, and a heater in our bathroom, warm clothing, we also use reusable hand warmers or foot warmers, and electric mattress cover, we turn it on before bed time on low so it is not cold under the blankets, and hot tea. Nancy S.
  • We drink hot beverages and eat soups to keep us warm. I also have lots of warm throws on every piece of furniture for those who are chilly, makes a great decoration for whatever the season too. Diane M.
  • We pre-buy our propane in August so we get the cheapest rate. Lucy S.

What are you doing to help keep your heating bills down this winter?


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9:00 am

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki McCuen Crespo October 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

We just don’t use it :o) We need the heat less than a handful of days. We spend all our money on A/C here in sunny central FL. We’re still in the high 80s. I’m wishing your cool temps were heading our way. Hopefully, soon!


2 Jan Watson October 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

Good info! Will be checking out these sites in my little house Hope to stay warm this winter with these!


3 Laura October 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

Hi Merissa….
My name is really Laura and I really do live in a little house on the prairie… I just found your blog and I totally love it!
I live on the Colorado prairie. You can read about my misadventures here homesteadfailure.blogspot.com and colaurado.blogspot.com

I do have to say that I’ve tried the ceiling fans in the winter and I always get a chill from the breeze, even if it’s on slow. I would also add to replace windows and/or doors. My little house on the prairie still has the original single plane glass windows. If someone’s are as bad as mine, it would actually pay to do so. We did replace the doors and it made a world of difference. I hope to replace at least a few of the windows this winter.


4 Merissa October 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

Welcome Laura!


5 Eve October 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Laura, you can buy a product at many stores that is a clear cellophane-type product that seals with a hair dryer over your windows. We have one room with cheap windows -the only ones we could afford at the time and have not had the money to replace – and this sealer works VERY well in keeping our cold, drafts, and condensation. We did three very large windows at a cost of less than $20.

Also, the ceiling fans do not work as well to bring down heat from the ceiling unless the fan is over or close to a heat source. Thenthey work very well and don’t cause a cold draft. We have a ceiling fan in the area near our wood stove which outs out marvelous heat. The fan really pushes the warm air into the other rooms because it is almost directly above it.

Also, wish we could have bought a wood stove, tile, and pipe for $300. We live in Alaska, and second wood stove we just bought for our upstairs was $3700 -stove and double-walled pipe -not including the tile!


6 Jen November 9, 2015 at 12:23 am

I agree that ceiling fans do not work well to try to push hot air down. It is much more effective to set them to bring cooler air up to mix with the hot air trapped at the ceiling. Then the mixed air readily drops to the lower level and warms the entire space more evenly. this also prevents cold drafts from moving around the room.


7 Christine October 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

Did installing your woodstove increase your insurance costs?


8 Merissa October 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

For us it did not. I’m not sure if that’s a state thing or just a company thing (we have our insurance through Allied).


9 Kimberly Boucher October 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

about #6…..Does this mean clockwise as you’re looking up at it??? Or clockwise as its looking/pointing down???


10 Merissa October 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

Clockwise as it’s pointing down. So counterclockwise as you look up at it. That’s assuming all fan blades are angled the same way mine are!


11 Pinning Everyday October 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Great ideas! Where we live it just now started cooling down, it was just over 100 degrees here last week (which is normal), so haven’t really thought about turning on the heater just yet. These tips will really come in handy now though that it is actually starting to feel like fall. 🙂 Stopping by from the Pinterest Blog Hop!


12 Nancy October 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

We just got our woodstove and we are looking forward to saving lots of money. We have electric heat which is ver expensive. Fingers crossed.


13 Brenda October 14, 2012 at 10:13 am

LOVE your page and all the awesome articles!! Thank you for the tip about the ceiling fans and it needing to be near a heat source. That makes much more sense and now we will just switch the ones in the bedrooms where the vents are in the ceiling.


14 Teri @ The Freshman Cook October 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Lots of great ideas! Thanks for linking up to our Pinterest Inspired Blog Hop!


15 Cynthia L. October 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm

These are great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them.


16 Anne Kimball October 15, 2012 at 6:24 am

Hi Merissa, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com), and I’m visiting from the Natural Living Monday’s blog hop.

These are great tips. Our house is gi-normous, and very xpensive to heat, so I’m sure these will come in handy. Thanks!

Anyway, it’s nice to “meet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…


17 Becky October 17, 2012 at 5:25 am

Great tips! I would have never thought of the foam outlet inserts. Thanks for sharing these!


18 JM @ Ariba Oil October 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

All sound advice, Merissa, thanks for sharing these tips. Emphasis on your first point – definitely do not hesitate to contact and ask your service providers. Being proactive in these trying times would be the best approach. If you even think that your heating unit is not functioning properly and cost you just as much for your bills, pick up the phone and call for assistance.


19 sandra October 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Where did you find a wood burning stove for around $300. Everything we checked into out here, it’s gonna cost up upwards of $1200 and that isn’t even including the tiling.


20 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm

We bought it at Tractor Supply.


21 Julie October 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Hi! having just moved from a gi-normous house in Vermont to a tiny house in Virginia. I wanted to commend you on your ideas. All of them are excellent.

Our home in Vermont was very hard to heat because the rooms were very large open spaces, with very old leaky windows. Your recommendation to winterized them is great, another idea that worked well for us, was window blankets. I quilted and made thick insulated drop down “shades” that we put down as soon as the sun went down at night, and opened them first thing in the morning. Sometimes we would actually find ice built up on the inside of the window, from the cold that was trapped.

Another thing we did was keep the thermostat extra low, around 50 ish or off in the house, and used our centrally located wood stove to be our primary heat in the main area of the house. It brought everyone together in the warmer areas of the house, even our teenagers. (It helped to have hot cider or tea ready on the stove!)

Good luck braving the winter, make it an adventure and have fun!


22 Susie Badker October 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm

We applied for and got the money a certified woodstove last year and it has made all the difference in our heating bills.


23 kat October 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm

We turn the therostat down to 62 for days and 58 at night. We have an odd shaped house. The living room, with its vaulted ceiling, comes out from the rest of the house, like the lower leg of a “T” and leaky windows all the way to the ceiling. Anyway, they built the house with an improper amounts of registers for the central system. So, I have insulated drapes hung in the doorway to the room (yes, just like the parlor of a turn of the century house) and I double plastic the windows and have sheers and insulated drapes on the huge windows. We run a small ceramic heater in the room. Since this is the room that the TV, computer, exercise equipment, reading material, etc is in, we just heat the living room. The kitchen gets warm quickly when I cook, and we have a heated mattress pad, so it’s not too bad. We save at least $50 a month in the Winter with this arangement on the gas bill. The pets love the arangement-they love the warm living room. Even with my circulation problems, it’s quite tolerable.


24 Gwen January 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm

We have a two story house and I made some curtains to hang in the opening. Keeps the heat downstairs with us during the day. At night we all sleep in the same room ( my kids are little) and use a space heater for about 30 minutes on really cold nights. We live in NM so it does not get too bad.


25 Tracey Forrest November 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

I just saw recently on the BBC to put aluminium foil on the wall behind radiators to direct heat back into the room.


26 Travelady November 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

yes, that’s common here. You can buy thicker foil for this purpose and it does work. another one if bubble wrap on windows


27 Lousa November 8, 2013 at 3:56 am

I live in a single-wide mobile home in PA. Last year I followed the advice of someone on youtube. I sprayed a mist of water on my windows, then applied a layer of bubble wrap Bubbles facing window). The mist holds the bubble wrap in place all winter. Then I applied the cellophane shrink wrap. It helped with the coldness that comes off the windows. This year I applied 4 mil plastic over the windows and already see a difference. I also covered my skirting with the 4 mil plastic, hoping to block the winter wind from getting under trailer. I hang a panel of insulated drapes from tension rods in the doorways of 2 spare rooms that I closed floor registers. I have a drape at both front and backdoor. My heat is set low and I bundle up. Being laid off over the winter I need to be frugal. Next year I hope to reinsulate the duct work and underbelly and also place insulation board behind skirting. If money allows I would love to start replacing windows and purchase a pellet stove.


28 Marilyn runnels November 8, 2013 at 5:26 am

i use polyester shower curtains for shears in the summer and winter prettier then a black plastic bag but works to keep heat out in summer and in in the winter i find pretty ones at the yard sales and save them for when i need a change have one between front door and house we have a small foyer keeps from losing heat when the door is open hung up on a closet rod holder set it does help


29 Linda Davis November 8, 2013 at 7:56 am

I am fortunate to live in Arkansas where we have fairly mild winters. Our big utility bills come in the summer with the AC. We are also fortunate enough to have central heat and air. We keep our thermostat at a steady temp all year and just wear more clothes in the winter. If I have canning of non-seasonal items that I want to do, such as stews, meats, etc,; I try to do them in the colder months. I also bake more during the winter. The heat from the oven helps keep the house warm. I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago, and I look forward to your posts each day. I don’t know how many children you have, but my husband and I built a house nearly 40 years ago that was just a tad over 1200 sq. feet. We raised two kids in that house and never felt cramped. You can do it. A smaller house makes everyone closer and more connected (which is usually a good thing when there are children in the house).


30 Merissa November 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

There are 3 of us right now and the house is 900 sq feet. It feels huge to us after living in the rv! I’m sure we will be able to make the most of our space but like you did in your home. 🙂


31 Linda Steiger November 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

Years ago we installed a wood stove in our living room, but our bedrooms were at the other end of the house (ranch style). There are tiny electric fans which mount in one corner of the doorway that will suck the warm air from one room and push it into another and they don’t use a lot of electric. Don’t know if they still make these or not? We eventually bought a wood cookstove for the kitchen which helped to provide more heat for the kitchen & back of the house (bedrooms) and I really miss it. We now have a gas well on our property and get free gas for our house and one barn. Feels like a real luxury to not worry about the oil bill in the winter time. But I do love the wood stoves and especially wood cookstove with the kettle and a pot of soup simmering all day.


32 Linda Steiger November 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

A good insulator is either hay or straw bales to set around the foundation of either a trailer or conventionally built home. They don’t cost that much if you don’t have your own for livestock and provide a good barrier against heat loss.


33 Gail November 26, 2013 at 5:43 am

Our home is electric but we primarily heat with wood. Buy programmable thermostats for the most used rooms. also if you have drafts around your doors replace the weatherstripping and put a rug or towel at the bottom of the door. For those days went temps get to lower single digits and or wind chill I do not open my blinds to keep heat in.


34 Roberta Cross April 16, 2014 at 6:34 am

I invested in female long Johns and wore them all winter.


35 kassy September 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm



36 Ashley December 28, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Love these tips! We still need to keep our heater fairly high most of the time (well 69 during the day and 65 at night) because we have little ones in the home and I worry about keeping them warm, especially since the 2 year old is constantly taking off his socks and slippers. We have quite a few cold and gloomy days (we are in MN) and I try to keep our blinds closed except for the ones on or bay window so we can get a little light in. It’s amazing how much colder it is when the blinds are up!


37 Pamela December 30, 2015 at 7:48 am

My two greatest tricks are large throw rugs and floor to ceiling curtains! I don’t particularly care for carpeting in the warmer months but it’s necessary in the winter for the extra layer of insulation. It’s like putting a sweater on our house. Our home was built in the ’70s and the insulation in the walls and floors leave much to desire. Since we are renting we can’t just go renovating the way it should be, we need to find ways to deal.


38 Heather @ Simply Save January 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm

Great list! I was surprised at how easy it is to insulate pipes. So worth it. Thanks for sharing on the Small Victories Sunday Linkup!


39 Jennifer January 6, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Great tips and I really like your blog. I would love to have you post on my blog hop—the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home (www.myflagstaffhome.com). It begins on Thursday evenings and lasts through the weekend, if you’re interested.



40 Katie January 6, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Wow lady I think you got all of the big tips – great thinking with the ceiling fans and foam inserts, that should certainly help. Found you at Turn It Up Tuesday! 🙂


41 Marie January 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

These are fantastic tips! I love saving money any way I can. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday this week!


42 Carol Orris January 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Great post! 🙂 I second the idea of checking your bills and not being afraid to question any possible errors that you may find. This tip alone has saved me hundreds over the years.


43 MountainGoose January 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Spend more time outside. You’ll acclimate to the seasons. We keep the occupied areas of the house around 55 degrees and the rest around 40. That’s plenty warm. Heat yourself, not the house.


44 Lane Baxter March 23, 2016 at 5:51 pm

I just found your blogs on an offgrid living FB group and so far I lovi it.
I;m wondering if you could tell me how much you saved on your electric by doing all these things. Just curious. Me and my hubby use wood heat and it really saves alot. It is also very warm and since we have our own source of wood on our 15 acres, it only costs the price of running a small fan to circulate heat around to other rooms.


45 Canadian November 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Window shrink wrap works. Reduces heat gain in the summer, too, as long as you don’t need to open the window.


46 Cyndi December 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

My new favorite weapon in the fight against the cold, fleece lined leggings. They go under everything including long skirts. My girls wear their leggings as pants with long tunic shirts but I like to layer, layer, layer!


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