Most people dread receiving their energy bill. Between electricity, gas, and oil, energy consumption adds up to be a significant cost. Given that central heating is one of the biggest energy users in your home, homeowners try to cut costs with their heating.
Some homeowners recommend leaving your heat on to save on energy costs. But how does that work, and should you leave your heating system on all day? The team at Quality Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is here to talk about myths vs. facts when it comes to heating.
A common piece of wisdom is that it is cheaper to leave your heat on all day, even when you are not home. The logic behind this idea is that it takes more energy to heat your home once the temperature has fallen than it takes to maintain a higher temperature. You can think of it as the difference between topping off a glass of water vs. emptying it and refilling it.
That’s the traditional wisdom at least — but is it true?
In reality, it is not clear whether keeping your heat on all day actually helps lower your energy costs in the long run. According to basic thermodynamics, it takes as much energy to reheat your house as the amount of energy you conserved when the furnace was off and temperatures were dropping.
The catch is that when the furnace is not running, you are saving money because no electricity or gas is going to it. As a result, the longer you have your furnace off, the more money you will save on energy costs.
In fact, leaving your heat on all day can actually cost you much more than turning it off every now and then. Heat tends to diffuse, so the high heat in your home will diffuse to areas of low heat outside the home during the winter.
So even when you have your furnace on, your home is always losing a little bit of heat. The longer you keep your furnace on, the more fuel you will use. If you have poor insulation, the furnace will have to work more energy to maintain the inside temperature.
The greater the heat loss, the more energy used and the higher your energy bill will be.
So, depending on the layout of your house and the type of heating system you have, leaving your heat on all day can significantly increase your energy bills. Turning off your heater, even just for a few hours a day, can help you save between 5%-15% on energy costs over the year.
If you have a programmable furnace, you can try this yourself. Schedule your thermostat to turn the heat on during the morning and turn it off for about six hours in the afternoon. You can also set your thermostat for specific days, such as weekdays or weekends.
Regardless of whether you want to keep your heat on all day or periodically turn it off, you are going to want to make sure your house has proper insulation.
Multi-story homes and homes with attics should double-check their insulation as second floors and roofs are spots where the most heat escapes from your home. If you have poor insulation in these spots, you will lose more heat, so your furnace will have to work longer. The result is increased energy bills.
Another common point of heat loss in the house is cracks in windows and doors. Drafty doors and windows can significantly raise heating and cooling costs during the winter and summer, respectively.
As such, one of the easiest and most effective ways to ensure minimal heat loss is to update your home’s insulation and reseal all doors and windows. The newer your insulation is, the less heat loss you will experience throughout the year.
If you are still confused about whether you should leave your heating on all day, you can test for yourself and see how leaving it on and turning it off affect your energy usage. First, set your thermostat so that it runs all day for about a week, then change the settings so that it only comes on set periods during the day.
Take meter readings from your fuse box on the outside of your house at the beginning and end of each week. You can then compare your electricity usage between the two weeks to see which option is more efficient. If one of the weeks was particularly cold, run the test again to get a more accurate data set.
From there, you can make small adjustments to your home to dial in the right energy uses. Strategies you can use to lower heating costs and retain more heat in your home include draught-proofing, closing curtains to trap heat, and replacing window panes with thermally efficient glass panels.
Another way to improve heating efficiency is to install a new furnace system. New models have energy-efficient designs which can heat your home using less energy overall. As heater repair experts in Tulsa, Quality Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help you select and install the right furnace for your home.
One last solution is switching energy suppliers. You can run an energy comparison to see if you can save more on energy costs by switching providers. Switching providers can save a ton on energy bills, and you won’t have to change your heating and cooling habits.