Reducing Heating System Operating Costs

One of the best and easiest ways to reduce your energy costs is simply setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. To extend these savings, set it back at night and when you are away. A rule-of-thumb for estimating energy savings is for every degree you set back your thermostat; you'll save 2 percent on your heating costs.

If you have a furnace, clean or replace filters once a month or at least every time the season changes. Keep warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators clean and clear. Make sure they are not obstructed by drapes, furniture, or rugs.

Gas-fired equipment needs to be checked every other year. Oil-fired boilers should be professionally cleaned and tuned annually.

Keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Close the door to an unoccupied room or area that is isolated from the rest of the house and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heat for that room or area. Make sure the room doesn't get so cold that the pipes freeze, and do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents—closing the vents could harm the heat pump.

Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. Turn these fans off as soon as they are no longer needed. In about one hour, these fans can pull out a house-full of warmed or cooled air.

Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for obvious holes. Consult with a professional about repairing duct leaks. Safe duct repairs require a licensed heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning contractor.