Most people in the US and the UK think they know how to use their heating systems in the most efficient way possible, but most households are making at least one of these potentially very expensive mistakes.
Research conducted by Energy.gov in the US and by The Energy Saving Trust in the UK showed what the most common misconceptions and mistakes were, and here are the biggest four. If you’re guilty of any, stop now!
Turning Up the Thermostat When It’s Cold Outside
More than half of the UK’s households (52%) do this and Americans are no better with an estimated 50% manually turning up their thermostats when the weather turns colder. This is especially prevalent in homes with teenagers, who haven’t discovered the joys of throwing on an extra layer or two! They wander around in a t-shirt and shorts, complaining that it’s cold and before you know it, they’ve set the heating to “tropical” when you weren’t looking.
When you’ve struggled to find and purchase some cheap oil in NI or Minnesota in the United States, you don’t want it going to waste! Heating oil prices here in the United States are ranging between $1.64 and $3.25 per gallon based on a 100 to 150 gallon purchase. The national average is roughly $2.20 per gallon and is expected that it could rise to $3.10 to $3.90 per gallon later in the season. The 2017 Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a frigid bone-chilling winter for most of the United States this year, so preparing NOW is of utmost importance!
Turning up the thermostat is just unnecessary as it’s supposed to maintain your ideal temperature regardless of the conditions outside the door. Say it’s set at 69F and it’s 86F outside – the heating will have turned off long ago. If it’s 37F outside, then your system will be working to keep the inside of your house at – you guessed it – 69F.
Turning Up the Thermostat to Heat More Quickly
This just does doesn’t make sense! It’s not like putting your foot down in a car to get to your destination quicker. Your heating will just end up exceeding your ideal temperature, wasting money in the process – 73F rather than 69F is harder to reach and maintain and you may find it too hot anyway. Despite this, more than a third (35%) of UK households are guilty of this mistake, and again, Americans are not much better! Remember, the thermostat is there to control the target temperature, not to reach it faster.
Leaving the Heating on “Low” 24/7
This mistake (made by 38% of UK families) means that heat is being pumped out into an empty house all day, then when people are in, the house is too cold, as no-one wants to turn up the thermostat! This might seem like a fairer distribution of heat, but it’s really not. If you worry about coming home to a cold house, use a timer to set the heating on 30 minutes before you’re due back.
The Energy Information Administration estimates that energy costs for heating and cooling together comprise about 42% of consumer home energy expenses on average. Currently 91 million households use thermostats for their home heating, yet only 25 million households have a programmable thermostat.
49% of the households using thermostats for heating do not have someone home during the day yet, during the winter, less than half (42%) report turning down the heat and only 2% completely turn the heat off.
A programmable thermostat can save you anywhere from 10% to 30% on the heating and cooling portion of your electric bill!
Here’s how to program your thermostat for fall and winter savings by using a mock weekday schedule of what a family with adults and children that are out of the house all day for work and school to give you an example of how it works. (Excerpt below taken from Energy.gov)
- 6:45 a.m.: The family wakes up to get ready for the day. The temperature of the house is 68°F; the heat automatically turned on a bit earlier so it would hit this temperature by 6:30.
- 7:45 a.m.: The family leaves the house and the thermostat is set to 56°F. By turning their thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, the family can save 5% to 15% a year on their heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.
- 4:30 p.m.: The family starts returning home from work and school. The heat turned back on a bit before this so the house would again be 68°F for their return.
- 10:30 p.m.: The whole family has gone to bed (bundled in warm pajamas and snuggled under blankets), and the thermostat is again set to 56°F.
Note that for all of these temperature changes, the family never once touched the thermostat. At the beginning of the season, they programmed it once to follow this schedule and the changes happen automatically — and so do their savings. That’s important for busy people!
The Hot Water Tank Isn’t a Bottomless Well
Running out of hot water is a pain, but 31% of UK households think that running the immersion heater constantly will prevent this. It won’t, however, because a hot water tank isn’t a bottomless well! No matter how much you run the immersion heater, there’s only a finite amount of water in the tank.
It makes much more sense to set a timer to heat the water before you get up in the morning, and again before the evening. Using an insulation jacket is also a big help. If you need to do a bit of washing up and there’s only lukewarm water coming out of the taps, boiling a kettle rather than heating up a big tank is a good idea!
While it looks as though we might be in for a wicked winter season, putting these tips into play now before the cold strikes will go far to help your family save on your heating and cooling costs this year.
What tips do you have to share with us? Leave your tips for our readers below in the comments and bundle up to stay warm everyone!
Disclosure – I have teenagers who constantly need something and a husband who thinks items like race cars and boats are toys. So, throughout the blog you will find affiliate links that enable me to buy a bottle or two or three of wine to keep my sanity intact.