How can I reduce my home’s heating costs?

Heating represents up to 60% of the typical home’s energy use. Regularly maintaining your heating system and taking some simple steps can make a positive difference. Here are some tips on how you can more effectively heat your home, while reducing your energy consumption.

Keep your furnace operating at peak efficiency

  • Once a year, have a licensed HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) professional inspect and service your furnace. This can improve your unit’s efficiency by up to 20%.
  • Check the furnace filter once a month. Replace or clean the filter if it’s dirty and at least, every three months or as recommended by the manufacturer. A clogged filter hampers a furnace’s performance.

Install a programmable thermostat

  • Reduce your heating costs by up to 10% with a properly programmed thermostat.
  • Place your thermostat on an interior wall where there are no vents or drafts. Avoid placing it in a room with a fireplace or another heating source.
  • In the winter, set the thermostat to 20°C when you’re home and 17°C overnight or when you’re away.

Make small changes

  • To prevent heat loss, insulate the heating ducts that travel through unheated areas of your home.
  • Install weather stripping around your windows and doors to keep the heat inside your house.
  • Set the switch on your furnace fan to “automatic” instead of “on” or “continuous” to save energy.
  • Use a ceiling fan, set to rotate clockwise, to circulate warm air. This will create a gentle updraft, which will force the warm air near the ceiling down into occupied spaces. Ceiling fan performance and energy savings are dependent upon the proper installation and use of the ceiling fan.

Look for the ENERGY STAR® label

  • When shopping for a new heating system, consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR® qualified model, which is more efficient than a standard model.

Improve the effectiveness of your electric baseboard heaters

  • Use programmable thermostats on your baseboard heaters, especially heaters in the main rooms of your house. These thermostats help to reduce heating costs, are more precise than manual thermostats, and do a better job of keeping room temperature constant.
  • Turn your thermostats down to 17°C when you’re at work, sleeping, travelling, or otherwise not using a room. Never turn your heaters completely off in the winter because your water pipes might freeze.
  • To ensure their efficiency and eliminate potential fire hazards, make sure that nothing is blocking the airflow from your baseboard heaters.
    • Move furniture away from your heaters.
    • Check your flooring clearances. Baseboard heaters should sit at least 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) above the floor or carpet to allow the cooler air on the floor to flow under and through the electrical element.
    • Check your drapery clearances. The bottom of your drapes should end at least 10 centimetres (4 inches) above your heaters. If your drapes run floor-to-ceiling, make sure you have at least 5 centimetres (2 inches) between the back of the drapes and the front of your heaters. (Source: BC Hydro)
  • Dust and dirt can decrease the amount of heat your heaters produce. At least once a year, vacuum as much dust as you can from your heaters. The best time is right before you first turn your heaters on in the fall.

Minimize the heat lost through your fireplace

  • Even a closed fireplace damper leaks a large amount of heated air to the outdoors. That’s why effective fireplace sealing can reduce your household heating and cooling needs by 14%.
  • Consider purchasing a flue sealer or plug, which are usually inexpensive and easy to install and remove. These foam or inflatable devices are placed just below the damper. You can hang a flag from the flue sealer to remind you to remove it before starting a fire.
  • Fireplace doors and covers are another excellent way to block the flow of air up your chimney.
  • Have your fireplace and chimney regularly inspected and cleaned.This will further prevent heat loss and ensure the safe operation of your fireplace.

Reduce the heat loss on your water heater

  • If you have an older electric water heater, wrap it with an insulation blanket made for electric water heaters. This can reduce energy loss by up to 40%.
  • Install pipe wrap on your pipes to reduce heat loss and to bring hot water to your faucets faster. However, do NOT insulate plastic pipes.
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