12 Tips to Save on Your Heating Bills

by Merissa on October 8, 2012

in Featured, Thrifty Living

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Our house is little, tiny, very small. Some how the builders managed to cram 3 bedrooms into less than 1200sq feet. I’m not sure how. We moved to the Little House in January. 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.

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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 in the Little House 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. It didn’t cost anything for them to come out and inspect.

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 computer room. 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….maybe;) )

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 snug in. You could even get a Snuggli. (even though personally, I’ll stick to my sweater instead of those Hogwarts robes looking things. ) 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 great 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. 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. One word. 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! You can almost always get caulk for free after rebate at Menards so this is a great inexpensive option.

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.

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!

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

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{ 35 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!

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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!

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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.

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4 Merissa October 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

Welcome Laura!

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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!

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6 Christine October 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

Did installing your woodstove increase your insurance costs?

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7 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).

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8 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???

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9 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!

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10 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!

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11 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.

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12 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.

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13 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!

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

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

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15 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…

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16 Becky October 17, 2012 at 5:25 am

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

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17 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.

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18 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.

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19 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm

We bought it at Tractor Supply.

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20 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!

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21 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.

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22 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.

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23 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.

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24 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.

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25 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

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26 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.

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27 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

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28 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).

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29 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. :)

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30 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.

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31 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.

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32 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.

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

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

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34 kassy September 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

TRYING TO BUY A USED DOUBLE WIDE. LOVE THE INFO, NEED MORE. WONDER HOW HARD IT WOULD BE TO INSTALL A WOOD BURNING STOVE IN A TRAILER. EWWW SO MANY QUESTIONS. I’M SO EXCITED. CAN’T WAIT TO START MY FIRST GARDEN, PAINT AND INSULATE. THIS SITE IS A LIFE SAVER. MAKING SOAP, ETC. HOPE I GET THE LOAN CAUSE I CAN’T STOP DREAMING.

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35 Merissa October 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Yes, I think it will be different for everyone. We actually have those heaters that are near the ceiling so the fan brings the warm air from the down.

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