How to Set Your Thermostat for Energy-Efficient Heating

September 14, 2020

With winter temperatures just around the corner and the weather set to start cooling off pretty soon, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to switch on your heater to stay warm and comfortable. Heaters consume a lot of energy, and let’s face it: energy is expensive. That means running your heater can be one of your biggest expenses throughout the winter season. However, it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, you can save money on your heating bills by setting your thermostat in a different way that doesn’t sacrifice on indoor comfort.

Here are a few valuable tips you can follow for how to properly set your thermostat in order to save money on energy costs this winter.

Set Your Downstairs Thermostat Warmer than Upstairs

This is a simple trick that could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of an entire winter. In multi-story homes, heat rises toward the roof, and that means upstairs rooms tend to be far warmer than downstairs rooms. This is a natural phenomenon that happens when warm air that has lower density rises above cold air that has a higher density. What that means is that your home will essentially be in a constant state of cycling temperatures.

Here’s one way you can counteract this, however. If you have multiple thermostats, including one for your upstairs zone and one for your downstairs zone, then set your upstairs zone two degrees cooler than your downstairs zone. Set your downstairs thermostat to your ideal temperature. This way, the heat your HVAC system produces will primarily be directed toward your downstairs rooms (which are used most often in the majority of cases anyway). As the heat rises, it will warm your upstairs spaces. The cooler air will sink down to lower levels, where your HVAC system will pick it up, heat it, and then pump it back into your home. Thus, you get more even heating while using only a fraction of the energy.

Only Run Your Fan When Your Heater Is On

It’s a rather common myth that running your HVAC system’s fan constantly will help keep temperatures in your home more regular and uniform. While this does help with air quality by helping you filter your air more frequently, it doesn’t actually help with energy efficiency. In fact, it’s quite a bit worse. HVAC fans require a good amount of energy, even if your heater isn’t actually running. That adds up quickly, and before you know it, you have a pretty substantial bill to pay at the end of the month.

However, there’s another reason to want to avoid this: air ducts are often the source of a huge number of air leaks, and air leaks are a massive source of heat loss. The more you run your HVAC fan, the more times your heated air is pumped through your duct system, and the more chances your heat has to escape through one of these leaks. As a result, you’re actually going to burn through a ton of heat energy as well as electrical energy to keep the fan running. That adds up to a lot of money out of your pocket, and a lot of strain on your budget.

Lower the Temperature at Night & Use Extra Blankets

When you head to bed for the night, turn your thermostat down by roughly about three degrees. Why? Won’t that leave you to shiver all night long? Not at all, particularly with the addition of an extra blanket, if necessary. When properly covered, the human body actually adapts to sleeping in colder temperatures remarkably well, and in most cases you won’t even feel the cold while you rest. However, you’ll see a big savings on your energy bills. Lowering the thermostat by just three degrees for the eight-hour period you’re resting can add up to savings approaching more than $100 per month.

Worried about a particularly cold night causing you to freeze? Don’t stress—because you’re not turning your furnace off, it will kick on and keep your home at a stable temperature while you rest. The difference is, it just won’t have to do so nearly as often, or for as long.

Turn Down the Thermostat, Turn Up Your Ceiling Fans

Finally, your ceiling fans are a great way of being able to turn your thermostat up during the summer months, keeping you cooler without the excessive energy cost. But did you know they can do that during the winter as well? All ceiling fans have a small switch on the outside of the motor housing that, when flipped, causes the motor to spin the opposite direction. This “winter mode” setting is designed to push air from the lower areas of your space up to the ceiling, creating a constant air circulation that prevents heat pockets from forming near your ceiling. As a result, you get more comfortable, even air temperatures with less wasted energy. In turn, this means you can set your thermostat lower and still enjoy your home in comfort. And because the air isn’t blowing directly downward on you, you don’t have to worry about the feeling of a stiff breeze making your home feel frigid.

It’s time to schedule your heater tune-up for the winter season! Call Winters® Home Services at 617-221-5899 now to make your appointment.