According to a 2018 government study, about 40% of American households rely on electricity to heat their homes. This could mean your home is warmed by high-tech options like radiant floor heating or electric furnaces. However, it could also potentially include less efficient options like baseboard heaters. It might depend on the age of your home.
Heating your home with electricity comes with some distinct benefits. For one thing, you will generally spend less on the furnace itself — about $2000 less. You also don’t have to worry about things like toxic leaks or other dangers that can come along with natural gas. Finally, electric furnaces tend to last about a decade longer. Natural gas still has the edge for both monthly price and output, but there are many reasons why you might opt for electric heat instead.
Maybe you elected to purchase an electric furnace for ease of care. Or perhaps you simply purchased a home that came with baseboard heaters included. You might live in an area where your grid is powered by more environmentally friendly sources (solar or wind) and want to take advantage of that. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then looking for ways to offset the cost of electric heating might interest you. Particularly for those living in colder climates, long-term utilities might cost you more than what you saved on a cheaper option.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to offset your electric heating bill. Follow these steps to help your current furnace be as budget-friendly as possible.
Make Sure Your House Has Proper Insulation
No matter what furnace you have — but especially if your heat source is electric — the first thing you need to do is make sure your home is properly insulated. This doesn’t just include the insulation that’s installed in the walls. It also means making sure your doors and windows are properly fitted to frames and windowsills. If you have a chimney, that could be another place where you’re losing air (and money). It might not feel like a big deal. However, even a little warm air leaking out cause your heater to work harder. That will add to your bill over time. If you have a heat source that isn’t as efficient, holding the heat is as important as how you generate it.
The Department of Energy has some useful tips for tracking down air leaks in your home. You really should look through this list, since many of them are easy home safety tips, in addition to being cost-saving measures you can take immediately. They range from checking for holes in the wall or warped garage doors to making sure your dryer vent is clear (which can also be a fire risk).
Invest in HVAC Maintenance
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) broadly refers to any system you are using to warm or cool your home. It’s always important to make sure your heating system is working optimally. Otherwise, you’re wasting money on that system working harder than it should.
Professional HVAC maintenance may be a part of your furnace’s warranty. If not, it could be worth paying for an annual tune-up. If you can afford the invoice, having an expert glance at your home’s heating system can make it more effective. As a general rule, maximized performance on essential household appliances will save you money on your electric bill in the long term. Remember, you are paying to operate these devices. There’s no reason to not have them working as best they can.
Use Ceiling Fans to Spread Hot (or Cool) Air Throughout Your Home
Good air circulation during the summer is a no-brainer. Ceiling fans in particular work to keep you cool and help refresh otherwise stuffy rooms. However, they can also help make your heating system more efficient.
If you utilize baseboard heaters (or another system that does not automatically distribute air throughout your house), then making sure that heated air makes its way around your home is even more important. Ceiling fans can accomplish this. By moving the hot air from the area immediately around the heat source, you will be able to more easily regulate the temperature of your entire home.
Turn Your Thermostat Down if You Leave for the Day
For most people, it doesn’t make sense to have your house be the same temperature when you are home versus when you’re gone for the day. Programming your thermostat to keep the temperature cooler when you know you will be away is a good money-saving practice — no matter what kind of heating appliance you use.
Be cautious if you have pets, though. If they regularly stay home without you, you home may require warmer temps. This is especially true for animals with very thin fur or ectotherms like reptiles. Additionally, it could mean things are a little chillier than you like when you first get home at the end of the day. Those caveats aside, this is generally a good habit that will save you money. After all, why set your thermostat to stay at 70 degrees all the time when you’re out of the house 40 hours a week (at minimum)? Turn it down and enjoy some savings.
Close Doors of Rooms You Aren’t Using
Zone heating will be your best friend if you are trying to lower your monthly bill. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You only want to heat the rooms you’re regularly using, right? What’s the point of spending money to heat rooms you don’t bother with? Unless you’re using that spare bedroom or home office, consider isolating them from your heating system. Close the doors or shut off vents in spaces you don’t mind being a little colder. Your heating system will now spend less time and energy (and money) warming the rest of your space.
Check for Power Company Discounts
Lastly, check with your local power company. Your heating system being effective is as good for them as it is for you. Depending on certain initiatives or local priorities, it’s possible you could receive a rebate, discount, or cash back if you’re stuck with an inefficient heating option. They may even help you pay to upgrade to a newer, more cost-effective model or method. If you don’t like your present heating system, looking for these opportunities could make replacing it more affordable. If the power company isn’t offering anything, check in with your local or state governments. They may offer similar financial breaks for upgrading.