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How much does turning down the thermostat save?

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy says you can save 3% on your heating bill for each degree you lower your thermostat. We'll show you how

Ramit Sethi

You won’t believe how much you can save every month just by turning your thermostat down 3 degrees. Below, I’ll show you some additional math / tips to show you the effect this will have on your finances.

picture of dollars saved by turning thermostat down to 68

This year, the Energy Information Administration projects that Americans will pay about 15% more in their heating bills because of colder weather and higher fuel costs.

Just can’t give up that extra degree? If you work from home, you can get a tax break for heating your home office. Download my FREE Ultimate Guide to Working from Home. to learn more.

Just how much can 1 degree save you?

“The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat” full time, says Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

To keep the math easy, let’s assume we can save 10% by cutting 3-4 degrees off the thermostat. Here are some sample savings. Note: The actual numbers for the heating bills were obtained very un-scientifically (too many variables to consider).

San Francisco: $10 off a $100 bill
Chicago: $20 off a $200 bill
New York: $15 off a $150 bill
Phoenix: You may not have a heating bill to save on… during the day will still probably be using your A/C. The same rules apply in this case, just in reverse. $10 off a $100 bill.

If you’re worried about your personal finances, you can improve them without even leaving your couch. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance for tips you can implement TODAY.

How to make this tip really work

I can already hear the sighs of a thousand people: “But Ramit,” you might say, “I already know about this.” Then why don’t people do it?

Because (1) it’s not sexy and novel, and (2) it only takes one cold day after work when you come home and say, “Forget it, I’m turning the heat up today.” And once you adjust your thermostat up, it never goes back down again.

The trick is this: First, turn your thermostat way down when you go to work. That’s free money. Second, think about what causes you to turn the heat up. When you come home from work, the first thing you notice is probably how cold it is – and it’s just natural to walk over to the heater and turn the heat way up. Avoid this: Sure, turn up the heat to a reasonable temperature, but instead of blasting it at 75 degrees, keep warm slippers, a blanket, and a hat somewhere convenient right when you come home. Just put them right near the door. No more thinking – it’s just a natural part of coming home and putting your bag down. (Read more about barriers here.)

I’m doing this at my house. As soon as I come home, there are slippers and a sweatshirt right near the door.

Savings: $10-20

* * *

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  1. avatar

    We’re already doing this (and yesterday’s tip as well). Our heat isn’t on right now since it isn’t too cold out, but I did run it for a few hours a couple of days ago when we had chilly temps.

    We have a programmable thermostat and keep it in the low 60s at night, and the upper 60s during the day. If we’re not going to be home, we lower it to about 62 or so.

    Also, each winter we seal our windows with foam and plastic to help keep the chill out.

    Last month, our electric bill was $48 and I expect it to be maybe $10 more this month, if that.

  2. avatar
    John B

    So far I’ve saved $0, (I telecommute, so don’t pack a lunch, and my landlord controls & pays for the heat), but I’m excited for tomorrow’s tip, I’m sure some of them will apply to me!

  3. avatar

    It might be worth it to invest in a programmable thermostat as well. That way you can set it and forget it.

  4. avatar
    The Diz

    This is something that my family readily does and we have discovered the difference that it makes. We live in the Northeast in a very cold, snowy area. We pre-pay for our fuel oil–it is still $4.39 a gallon. Ever since moving to this part of the country, we have a rule that we only use our heater/boiler from November 1st to April 1st–unless there is a danger of the pipes freezing. Even then, we never have it higher than 65 degrees and when we are all out of the house we either turn the heat off completely or turn it down to 50 degrees. If you come over to visit, you better be prepared to put on your slippers and sweatshirt.

  5. avatar

    I always turn down the thermosta before going to bed as well as before leaving for work each day!

    I think that this year I will invest in a programmable thermostat as well.

  6. avatar

    Tip #1 will save me $180 this month but it will be hard to predict how much #2 will save, I’m guessing we can save another $20.

    we have a programmable thermostat and like it really cold when we sleep, we take it down to 64 at night and during the day when we’re not home. We have it at 71 when we are awake and home. I think I will take it down to 69 when we are awake and then 60 at night. we have tenants who live in the basement and we don’t want to have it too cold for them as they are often home during the day when we are not. Also the weather is very cold here and often unpredictable, we sometimes spend $400 a month to heat the house (we are in central Canada).

    Hopefully this will save a few more bucks this month (although I suspect the biggest savings will be in the really cold months of January and February)

    Thanks Ramit! You are doing a great job, of course not all 30 tips will apply to everyone but it is still a great FREE service you are providing.

  7. avatar
    Kelly Anne

    I rarely eat out anymore, and the times I do it is really a treat to be with my former coworkers (and not eat at my desk!). So, tip number 1 is saving me $0. That said, my spending this month on non-grocery-store-food was ~$130 ( LOVE for budgets!), and I’m going to attempt to bring that down to $100.

    I am lucky to live at home with my family, where I get food and heating and electricity and internet for a low low price every month. So, this tip would do me no good – however, we did this in college when we had to pay for our heating. Since we had very little money, we would keep the heat down, to the point where I had 5 blankets on my bed at night. At least our heating bill stayed low!

    Watching for more tips! Thanks so much, Ramit – this is a fantastic feature!

  8. avatar

    I also have a programmable thermostat in my apartment, so since I had to set the time anyway today, I set the new schedule to heat only between 7:15-9am and 5pm-11:15pm on weekdays (and all day on weekends). The heat turns off completely during the unoccupied periods. I gain a lot of radiant heat from apartment neighbors and the sun, and I have efficient appliances, so my electricity bill is pretty low all year.

    I can definitely benefit from making more of my own meals (food is one area I’ve been splurging on in recent months). I just spent $32 at Whole Foods on food and snacks, went home and made myself gourmet scrambled eggs and toast for brunch, so I think I already saved myself around $15!

  9. avatar

    These will not help much with the $1000 challenge, but here are some other pretty basic tips help in the “home energy” department…

    Tip #1: Not home? Turn it off!
    Furnace, AC… it doesn’t matter which, if you aren’t home you don’t need it on. I also turn off my furnace off at bedtime, a quality warm blanket does wonders.

    Tip #2: Check your insulation!
    When renting a house in San Diego I noticed the attic had no insulation… that 1950’s building blunder cost me a fortune every winter and made for a misserable summer with no central air. Check your attic, walls, and don’t forget the windows! Old windows = massive energy leak.

    Tip #3: Go digital!
    It’s hard to believe that a $30 gadget from Lowe’s can literally change your everyday living. A digital thermostat means you will rarely need to tap the dial. Take the time to program it according to your needs and habits, you will thank yourself later.

    Tip #4: Decorate your windows!
    I’m not talking snowflake decals for Christmas, I’m talking heavy/thermal curtains to keep the weather out and the comfort in… plus they look pretty. I just picked up 4 10′ panes for my office from JC Penney for $100, it may take a year to recoup the costs but they will pay for themselves, plus they add comfort and style.

    Tip #5: Don’t forget the water heater!
    Turn it down to 120 degrees, that’s all you need… remember, the water heater is running non-stop to keep your warm toasty. If your water heater is old, wrap an insulation jacket (less than $40) around it or better yet, replace it with a tankless system if it’s in the budget.

    Five easy tips to prepare for winter weather. Come spring, there are as many or more tips to fight off the rays.

  10. avatar

    I live in S. Florida, and my recent August electrical bill was about $300 dollars. I replaced my thermostat with a programmable one. I also set my temp to about 83 degrees when not home. It is programmed to go to 79 degrees when I am home. I also have a pool, which requires me to run the filter at least 4 hours per day. I recently replaced the pool pump and noticed that my electrical bill went down as well. With all these changes, my Oct bill was $188. I saved about $100 in one month. It also helps that we had a cool front come thru. In the summer months I know my bill will probably go back to about $300, but at least now I am saving.

  11. avatar

    Like, John B, I am already practicing these tips. Living in Texas, we are able to currently go with no heater or air conditioning right now. My wife and I also made a deal to only eat out two times a week each, once on our own (or with friends) and once together. The rest of the times is all packed lunches.
    I am also curious to see the future tips, however I wonder how it will get me anywhere near $1000 savings.

  12. avatar

    I am also in Texas where the heater/ ac is not currently needed. No matter the season, we always turn it off when we leave and whenever we can live without. I will remember this next time we turn it on.

  13. avatar
    Rob Slagle

    Don’t forget to reverse the motors on your ceiling fans to blow the hot air down from ceilings. You may be able to lower the thermostat even more! Our bedroom runs very cold compared to the rest of the house, but when we did this to our ceiling fan, it made the room much more comfortable.

  14. avatar
    Funny about Money

    Works here in AZ during the summer — actually, you need to turn it up (not down) about five degrees to realize an appreciable savings. My thermostat is presently turned off and will stay off for the entire winter and next spring, until outside temps hit about 100 degrees. Got a space heater for the rare winter day when it gets sorta cold.

  15. avatar

    I live in Maine, and it gets pretty dang cold here. We already keep the thermostat at 63 degrees…no exceptions. And socks, sweaters and blankets are ready to go. I will not be turning the heat down anymore than it already is, but a few years ago we did keep it at 65…and to save money we turned it down.

  16. avatar
    karen w

    Since I had to change the time on the programmable t-stat today anyway, I decided to bump it down from 62 to 56 for when I am not at home or am sleeping. An electric mattress pad and a down comforter make sleeping very cozy. We have already had our share of chilly weather in Michigan. Thanks for the tips Ramit!

  17. avatar
    John W

    Or you can just do what I do – sleep under 3 blankets, wear a sweatshirt when you’re in the house, and try and use the heater as seldom as possible. Where I live the winters are pretty brutal, but even when it’s 20-40 degrees out there is really not much need I’ve found to crank up the ‘stat. Sure, there are a couple of times (I call those times “January” and “February” when that won’t work because it’s 5-below out, but for the most part people are a lot tougher temp-wise than they tend to give themselves credit for.

  18. avatar

    My thermostat is at 62 degrees right now and hasn’t kicked on for several days. It currently says it’s 72.5 in here (Atlanta). I refuse to turn it down to 59. That would be pushing it…. So I’m not saving any money on this. But yesterday’s tip gave me $44 and I convinced my husband to pack lunches too, so that takes us to $77 saved!

  19. avatar

    This is an under-appreciated tip. My air conditioning bills went from $250 to $100 by setting the temp up this summer and I had the same difference last winter by moving it down. I think the 10% number for dollar savings is conservative, and I live in the mid-Midwest where our pollution-producing coal power is cheap.

  20. avatar

    I admit to being a total spoiled brat when it comes to temperature comfort. But we’re going to be investing in a programmable thermostat soon. (Ah, to dream of finding one made in the USA… *sigh*) I think that will at least let us implement this while we’re at work or asleep.

  21. avatar
    Debt Dieter

    Most homes in Australia don’t have thermostats, and my place doesn’t have air-conditioning (we’re coming into summer here), so this one won’t save me much.

    I won’t turn my electric fan for the rest of the month though, that will contribute a bit to reducing my electricity bill for the month.

  22. avatar

    The first tip won’t save me anything, since I already bring my lunch to work every day.

    I don’t think this one will either. We don’t have a thermostat but I’ve only turned on the heat in one room twice this fall. We never have them on when we’re not home, or at night. I think we get a lot of heat from the surrounding apartments so it never gets very cold inside, even if it’s freezing outside.

    I am looking forward to the rest of your tips, though!

  23. avatar
    Richard Mikael

    I live in Northern California and I don’t need to use the AC accept a few times a year and as far as the heat goes, I’ve got plenty of blankets. My bill every month is about 80 bucks. The BIGGEST amount of money i’ve saved is from packing a lunch. Making soup the night before takes about an hour and it’s good for about 2 days worth of lunches at a cost of probably a dollar or less per serving. It’s amazing, going out to eat i’ll spend 10-15 bucks a pop depending on sushi or chipotle.

  24. avatar

    I will save $0 from this tip, as I am not paying for rent or bills right now.

  25. avatar

    This is going to be a tough one. Already have a programmable thermostate but my spouse works at home, so it has to be a little more comfortable during the day than if we both went to an office (but we’re saving on gas). Plus, we live in Houston, where the temps vary by day right now between the mid to high 80s and the 70s. Our plan is to keep the air conditioning off as much as possible from here forward. We rarely use the heat except on the rare December or January day when it stays in the 40s, so we’re already good for major savings. Folks, it’s usually in the 90s here. So in the winter we always save $$$.

  26. avatar
    Rose Fox

    Those who, like me, rent rather than own should remember that recklessly using the building’s heat and hot water translates into higher rents. Just because the landlord pays for it directly is no reason to waste it, because you’re paying for it indirectly.

    On the other hand, those with pets at home should make sure that turning the temperature down during the day still leaves a comfortable, safe environment for the pets.

  27. avatar

    Tip #1: Savings = $0 I never eat out. Self-made sandwiches and hot dogs are the extent of my lunches.

    Tip #2: Savings = $0 I live in a school-sponsored apartment and they pay for heating and A/C.

    I’m still optimistic, it’s only Day 2.

  28. avatar
    Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Error

    My utilities are included in my rent. Lucky me!

  29. avatar
    College Guy

    AFAIK my roommates and I don’t ever turn our thermostat on so dunno how much this will help. Our apartment gets pretty warm for some reason.

  30. avatar

    Tip#1: I stay close to office and try to come home for lunch. 🙂
    Tip#2: Regularly use ‘personal heater’ during the night instead of heating the entire apartment. I’ve seen a good saving in PG&E bill by this way.

  31. avatar

    It’s been pretty hot here in SoCal for months and it doesn’t even feel like fall. We have yet to turn the heater on this year, but always do our best to conserve energy. We also unplug everything when not in use.

  32. avatar
    Stop Getting Cheated

    Good job, Ramit. I already do both of these, but they are good common-sense tips to hear repeated. I live in Florida and did not use my heater all last year. I expect to do the same thing, this year. I wear a sweatshirt/pants in the colder months, but it is not a big deal.

  33. avatar

    Anybody have any tips on how to do this with room mates if you and your room mates do not have the same goals? How do you talk them into wanting to put the thermostat down 3 degrees if it is going to possibly make them uncomfortable, or maybe they just do not want to substitute comfort for any dollar amount? Im from WNY, so the temperatures here can get pretty cold…Thanks.

  34. avatar

    Already do this…tell kids to put on more clothes. As an accountant for an electric coop I’m telling you your electricity will cost more next year. We plan to do some caulking and look for other areas to improve heating/cooling bill even more. However, willing to push thermostat down from 64 to 62. We’ll see how I do. Hoping to save $20.

  35. avatar

    I actually just enacted the opposite theory, I raised my temperature 3 degrees, at least at night. The link you provided about thermostat facts and fictions was on the right trail of why I did this and why it will save me money. They mention that children can regulate their body temperature. True. They will not suffer if it is 3 degrees colder at night.

    However, at a certain age, they may have bladder control issues. 3 degrees is apparently enough of a change to allow a 3 year old to wet the bed consistently (read 5 out of 7 nights for 2 weeks) in a colder room, leading to daily laundry loads of blankets, sheets and pajamas.

    You may suggest heavier pajamas, but the temperature doesn’t reach its lowest until 3 – 5 AM. At bedtime it is still comfortable, which would also be completely uncomfortable in heavy bed clothes, which would cause children to be awake and asking for glasses of water and other such sleep avoidance measures for hours until exhaustion or comfort can be achieved.

    Whatever my oil costs, the electricity costs of an extra 10 extra laundry loads in 2 weeks more than offsets that. I won’t bother to calculate it, because that time can be spent better elsewhere, like commenting on blogs. 🙂

  36. avatar
    Maria | Never the Same River Twice

    One further suggestion – if you’re going to turn the heat down at night and you don’t have a programmable thermostat, make sure you’ve got slippers and sweatshirt at your bedside for when you have to get up in the cold morning!!

    So far I haven’t saved any money from these tips. I was already planning on brown bagging every day this month, and we keep the heat at 65 during the day. Plus, we’re having an unusually warm spell at the moment so I even have windows open.

  37. avatar
    Hunter Johnson

    0 for 2 so far — I already pack my own lunch every day (unless someone else is buying), and my thermostat is already set to 63F/62F day/night.

  38. avatar
    Starving Artist

    We have our heater set pretty low, but we also have a timed heater so for the hour we’re at home and awake in the morning (between 6:30 and 7:30) we have the house nice and warm. It shuts itself down in the evening. I just started to install plastic on all the windows to try and shave a few bucks off the heating bill later this year.

    My GF and I spent Saturday making food for the week. We put together a lassagna and a large pot of soup.

  39. avatar

    Tip #1 might save me something like $14 a week. I forgot to pack lunch today because I was gone all weekend and got in late last night, but I did actually make a breakfast instead of buying it, which saves something like $1.50. I work three days out of the week, so that would be $4.50 if I do that everyday, with lunch savings of something like $9 if I always pack lunch. I’m more excited about the health benefits, because even though people like to think Subway is healthy, it really isn’t.

    Tip #2 does not help because my landlord doesn’t charge me for that directly.

    I can’t wait to hear the rest of the tips, Ramit! I already told my boyfriend about this challenge, so now I’ve got that going for me.

  40. avatar

    I’m renting and living with friends in their house. Their thermostat is digital, so it is preset. Unfortunately, it’s never below 70 if anyone is home, and they only set it at 68 when they aren’t home!!! “For the dogs,” they say. I tried to tell them that the dogs have coats for a reason, but hey, my rent deal with them is a steal and their utilities aren’t going to affect it, so I’m not going to press the issue.

    I’m looking to get an apartment in the next few months and this is a great one to store away for future use!

    Excited for tip #3!

  41. avatar
    Bill K

    I did this a week ago, but I’ll count it.

    Programmed my digital thermostat to 65 for the at-home times and 58 for work and night. We also put plastic over our three largest expanses of drafty single pane windows. Already the living room feels warmer.

    I rent, so I am stuck with poor windows and insulation, and I split the utilities 3 ways which will cut my savings for this tip by 66%, although I suppose I am already saving money by sharing the apartment!

  42. avatar

    Unfortunately, I live in a college dorm, so no matter what I set the heat to, they still charge me the same ridiculous flat rate of approximately $3000/semester. I figure that this will be the case in many of these tips, because I don’t control the price of a lot of my living conditions, but I’m excited for some that do apply to me.
    Really if I want to save money I should just stop attending my outrageously priced college…

  43. avatar

    Like Phoenix residents, here in central Florida, we don’t have much in the way of heating costs, but are still running our a/c. I just pushed the thermostat up 3 degrees. That should save us $20 this month.

  44. avatar

    Living in So. Cal, this one’s not going to help much because of our near perfect weather. But, when it does get cold, how do I control my husband? Good Luck, he’s the one who cranks up the heat, albeit gas heater, even when we sleep!

  45. avatar

    i’m with the person below — i usually pack my lunch and my landlord controls the heat, so my savings are pretty slim. any tips for us renters?

    [i do eat out 1-2x a week, so i’m going to aim to cut that down to 1-2x for the month of november, total]

  46. avatar

    I will try this one. We are on an equal payment plan (EPP) with our power company, and our bill is currently set at $73/mo. Due to how our bill is set up, it’s a set amount for 11 mos, and depending on if you are over or under what you’ve paid out for the year, you will have a credit on your statement or have to pay more. So, if this does save us $, we won’t be able to see the benefit until our annual cycle is up in July. But if this does save us 10%, we’ll save ~$7/mo.

    This tip’s savings: $7
    Cumulative savings: $7

  47. avatar

    “1. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip. Each day, I’ll ask you to post how much you’ve saved cumulatively.”

    Savings = 0 (we won’t be using our heater at all this month – I live in a warm clime)
    Cumultative = 0 (I work from home, and though I do occasionally eat out for lunch, it’s closer to eating out once a month than anywhere near the frequency you’d like me to pack my lunch)

    But… I’m still looking forward to all of your tips!

  48. avatar

    I have noticed that my house feels cold when I get home mostly because I’ve been running the heat in my car on high. It probably gets up to 80 degrees or more in the car and when I go inside my 68 degree house it feels much colder. So, I’ve started keeping my car cool for the commute home and then when I get inside the house 68 feels warmer.

  49. avatar

    I think there may be a mutiny if I turn the heat down any lower. It’s at 56 already during the day and 50 at night. I’ll see if anyone notices another 3 degrees. It’s 20 outside at the moment here in Alaska so 50 is still warmer than that, but brrr….

  50. avatar

    I think the comments are as much about diversity of situation and adaptation. Many options appear such as consider living with other people. Location is a consideration. I realize most of this is being used on a “Run what ya brung” type basis. The tip may not save me much this year but, I cut and heated mostly with wood last year because that is what is available in my situation. I reduced my heating by 100.00 or more per month. We had a major ice storm 2 years ago. Figured we might get better prepared a bit at a time.

  51. avatar

    I live in upstate NY and own a 8 yr. old 3K sf home, gas heat. We are on a budget plan of $122 mo. We are home all day and keep the temp at 65 days and 60 nights on a programmable thermostat. Just a couple of extra things I do: rooms not in use always have the door closed and heat register turned off. I also always keep the overhead garage door closed, otherwise a lot of heat escapes through there. It goes without saying if no one is in a room, the lights are off. The hardest part is training the rest of the family.

  52. avatar

    This tip savings: $8
    Cumulative savings: $8

    Our thermostat is set at 65 degrees for winter. We rent an older home, so we’re putting up plastic over the windows to keep the drafts out. I’m looking into a DIY installed programmable thermostat and an insulation jacket for the water heater. Just plugging holes and insulating the place better saved us $25-$50 a month, during the winter last year. I’m estimating the programmable thermostat (cost: $30) alone will save us $8 per month (calculated by total heat savings – cost for prog. thermostat). I can’t calculate the savings with the insulation jacket just yet, because the landlord MIGHT install one for free if we request it.

  53. avatar

    Goodly tips. I already plan lunches for the week. Very good tip though.
    Heating. I live in an apt with individual room thermostats, thus my thermostat is off when I am not here and I only heat my bedroom to any extent at night when required. Windows are thoroughly insulated and additional indoor window thermal insulation. Thus my heating bill is pretty low. I will be looking forward to all tips and utilizing whatever I can. I recommend the same for others. Peace and all good – Joe

  54. avatar

    We turned OFF the air conditioner in July (we’re in America’s Deep South) when it was still in the 90s and survived with ceiling fans and ice water. Even though it’s been below freezing at night, our heater is also dormant in all but our pet’s room (she has a small room heater, very cost-efficient). I’ve had to readjust my working hours a little to allow the sunlight time to warm my home office, but it works fine. Sorry, your tip also nets me 0 savings.

  55. avatar

    These are really good tips….

    Especially this one, which is saving me oodles (though not for the challenge) since I already practice this every month.

    I love in So Florida and I literally keep the A/C on 83 when I’m not home (any warmer and you could have a mold problem) and 80 when I am home. My A/C bill is less than $90 a month in the summer and I am SURE this is the reason.

  56. avatar
    John W

    Rose Fox said that those who rent where the landlord pays for water and utilities should not be reckless in wasting those resources because it means higher rent. But she misses a subtlety: It means higher rent FOR OTHER PEOPLE, and any true capitalist knows the following: Other people aren’t real people, so who cares.

    Were I in such a glorious situation, I would spend all winter taking long showers and basking in my 80-degree apartment, just move after your lease is up and, viola, no rent hike.

  57. avatar

    While you’re at work, sure. But when at home I think I’d rather pay the $10 a month to be warm in my own house. There are ways to save money, and then there are ways to save money that don’t really sacrifice your quality of life, and I don’t really think this is one of them.

  58. avatar
    Today\\\'s Budget

    I already do this along with the other tips… so no additional savings for me yet. I’m hopeful though!

  59. avatar

    Gee, I wonder if they taught him that at Stanford! For those of you who attended HKU (The School of Hard Knocks) with me, invest in an electric mattress pad. No need to run the heat at night hardly at all! A couple hours at night after work, and an hour in the morning…..I don’t see how my heating bill could get much lower…..

  60. avatar

    I’ve actually had my heating/cooling system completely off for over a week now. (It’s pretty temperate here in Mississippi) I’m hoping to see some pretty significant decreases in my electricity bills.

  61. avatar

    I was wondering if anyone has compared the financial results of using a space heater rather than the normal heater? I live in a spacious apartment by myself and central air is incredibly expensive. Is it worth it (in terms of money saved) to invest in a small space heater? Any advice would be great, thanks!

  62. avatar

    This is something we already do. In fact, we do not have anything on right now because the weather has been nice. And last week when we got a cold front, the heat was only on 66 degrees on the side of the house where our six month old son sleeps. Since we generally do not run a lot of heat anyway, this will not yield big savings for us. But for those of you who do, it will.

  63. avatar

    To go along with this tip, try buying clear window film insulation if your windows are old or leaky. I rent my home in Philadelphia, so replacing the windows is not feasable, but for $11, I got a kit that will allow me to insulate 9 windows. I’ve done the upstairs, and now that Halloween deocrations are down, I’ll be doing downstairs tonight.

    I’m also lucky to have 2 heating zones, one for upstairs and one for downstairs, so I leave the downstairs set for 60, since I am usually dressed warmly when I’m down there. I leave my upstairs set on 65 because I can’t stand frigid showers in the morning, but I hope to save some money by bumping the temp down when I leave for work in the morning and back up when I return home at night.

  64. avatar

    Yeah, this is probably a good tip for those who run their heat all winter. I don’t run mine at all, though I occassionally use a small efficiency space heater.

    Keep ’em coming though.

  65. avatar

    Another one we do. We only turned heat on at all about two weeks ago (and we live in the north-west), and we keep it pretty low. We keep our temperature in the high 60’s because our house does not heat the upstairs well, which is where we need the heat. We do turn the temperature down during the day even though people are home, because we are moving around and wearing warm clothes.

    We could save additional money by finding a way to use space heaters upstairs (in the bedrooms) effectively, and then turning down the thermostat to 63 or so, which is fine for the downstairs / living area. But not a goal right now – I’m not really in this challenge, since we set aside more than $1000 a month anyways. I’m using this challenge more for brainstorming.

  66. avatar

    we only turn our heat up if our teeth are chattering. it would be nice to know, however, if our space heater is a better option – worse – etc.

  67. avatar

    here in Houston its still A/C weather…

  68. avatar

    In our part of California it is not necessary to heat or cool our homes at this time. I would venture to start heating in probably another 2-3 weeks. We do however own a gym where the A/C runs well into November. I have set the thermostat up 3 degrees and more when no one is working out. I anticipate saving about $20 this month on this.

  69. avatar

    I do this already, i’m afraid, and thus no “savings” will be seen by me.

    I leave it, during winter, at 55 while i sleep & 60 when i’m there.

    yes, i am a single male. 😛

  70. avatar

    It also wouldn’t hurt to have your furnace/AC inspected as well. If it’s not functioning properly you could be pissing away dollars.

    case in point: Because of how poorly installed the 3-year old heat pump system was at my new home, it was actually cheaper to replace the entire system than keep it. Scrapping & replacing the whole system saved me about $250-$330/month. Extreme case, but it’s worth looking into. I went with the top-of-the-line everything and payback was still

  71. avatar
    Butte Monkey

    Isn’t there some efficiency lost if you turn your thermostat down during the day and turn it up again when you get home from work?

    Doesn’t your heater or A/C have to work longer to bring the temperature back up (or down) to where you want it when you get home? How does that factor in to the calculation?

  72. avatar
    Strong One

    We do this year round at our house. We either turn it down before leaving for work, or we have a programmable thermostat that we can customize to lower the temperature automatically at set times.

  73. avatar

    My condo has a programmable thermostat, and I keep the following settings for all seven days of the week:

    6:30 pm – 8 am (when I am most likely to be home): 68 degrees F
    8 am – 6:30 pm (when I am most likely to be out or working): 62 degrees F

    I guess I won’t be seeing much savings from my current expenses on this one! 😉

  74. avatar

    Oops…didn’t read about the posting comments till today…so here goes:

    I already had the thermostat down to 69 degrees, but went down to 66 after reading this…our power bill last month was $77 (we have a fairly new house with double paned, argon filled windows), so we will see how much this does! 🙂

  75. avatar

    I’ve already got mine set at a frosty 60 degrees. Three more degrees and they’ll find me frozen to my sofa!

  76. avatar

    @ Butte monkey:

    No, it does not. (around half way down)

    In fact, it is MORE inefficient to leave your heat UP. Same applies for cooling.

  77. avatar

    With heating oil at 4 something a gallon this is a step we had already planned. Even so, I bet I can turn the thermostat down 3 more degrees without anyone in my house being the wiser, and squeak out a bit more in savings. Although we did have one snow already in the Northeast we are back to a very mild November so far which will help. A programmable thermostat would help too, as sometimes we just forget to turn it down even more at night and before we leave in the morning. And since our house is in a wooded area and not in visual distance from neighbors, we have never bothered with curtains. This would be a good time to look into insulated curtains or shades. For now I’ll figure to save about $30.00 if I figure 3% savings on our tank of fuel oil. Add that to the $30.00 from tip 1 and I’m up to $60.00.

  78. avatar

    I live in a lovely old house in Western New York state. I still have not turned on my heat yet this year because I use a heat dish. It looks like a satellite dish and the heat it generates is amazing. If you put the dish about 6-8 feet away from you, you will be more than warm. If I’m going to be spending time in the kitchen or office, I just take it with me. The heat is immediate and there is no annoying loud fan blowing it at you. It’s radiant heat from the aluminum dish and soundless. I bought it about 5 years ago at Costco for about 49.00 and it has saved me tons of money on heating bills. Now you can get them at most home improvement stores for about 39.00. During the winter, I keep my thermostat at about 60 degrees and I wear my sweats and slippers with warm wool socks for when I’m walking through the house. I use my heat dish mostly in my living room and it heats up the whole room. To keep the heat in, I keep the doors closed that enter the room and a standing screen across the arched doorway into the dining room.

    On the really cold nights, I use an electric blanket on low to keep me warm when I’m sleeping but I really prefer my fleece blankets.

  79. avatar

    Mo’s idea of the “heat dish” is a new one to me, I’ll have to look into that, too. I also wanted to add that I recently was given some old vhs tapes, classic movies from the late 1940’s. In the house men tended to wear “smoking jackets”, and women’s clothing often included a jacket of some kind. Our modern casual attire often forgoes these layers that people took for granted not that long ago. We can do as Ramit suggests with the sweatshirt and slippers and stay casual and comfortable, or we could go more “vintage”, but it doesn’t see like a huge sacrifice to add a layer.

  80. avatar

    Savings yesterday: $0 (we already did this)
    Savings today: $18. That’s not a whole heck of a lot.
    Looking forward to tomorrow.

  81. avatar

    Alice’s last comment….LOL.

  82. avatar

    One of the biggest electricity hogs in your house is your dryer. If you can find place in your house, such as a dining room, formal living room, or a little used bedroom or office, or even a wide hallway or foyer, do this: put up a set of 1x4s on opposite walls with metal hooks fastened in about 8″ apart (mine are 5′ long and have seven hooks), paint them the same colors as your walls, and cut yourself some cotton clothesline to length for each of your sets of hooks (I have a second set of hooks attached to the ends of my clothesline sections, so I can unhook them and hide them away when I have company, etc). Let all your laundry except socks and undies do most of their drying on the lines, and then just throw the laundry in the dryer for a 15 or 20 minute fluff/run to finish them off if they still feel cool or damp (and to throw in a dryer sheet if you forgot or ran out of fabric softener). Your electric bill will go down at least 20% most months.

  83. avatar
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  84. avatar
    Mark Oates

    I don’t have to pay for utilities in my apartment, so unfortunately this tip doesn’t help me.

  85. avatar
    Daniele Rapisarda

    And remember. Your body don’t need more than 20°C – 68°F . Do you feel cold? Wear a sweatshirt.

    sorry for my bad English….

  86. avatar

    Bumped the “at home” time on the programables from 68 to 67. Updated one schedule a little lower at night for the sleeping floors.

    Also: Walked around the house and closed all the STORM WINDOWS. That’s gonna have a big effect.


  87. avatar

    We already keep our thermostat at the lowest possible without fearing out pipes will freeze. This will save me 0$.

  88. avatar

    The person in charge of the thermostat in our house (my lease-holding roommate) doesn’t want to turn it down, even if it means saving some money. 🙁 He said he’d rather pay a bit extra than feel cold…

  89. avatar
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  90. avatar
    10 Ways to Prove that Frugal Living is Really Green Living in Disguise. :: Steadfast Finances

    […] to Save $1000 shows that for every 1 degree your thermostat goes down during the winter, you save approximately 3% on your heating bill.  You can also try flipping the rotation switch on your ceiling fan to blow […]

  91. avatar
    Barbara Jean Walsh

    I live in Florida and my thermostat is on “off” right now. I cave in for more heat, but do okay with high temps in the summer. I do need to remind myself to make sure my filters are CLEAN and changed often.

  92. avatar

    We already do keep our thermostat fairly low, and even off much of the time. Novembers in Oregon are generally pretty mild so it’s not that hard.

    However, what will help this month versus 11/07 is that my boyfriend and I are now on the same relative schedule, so we leave in the morning and come back in the evening. Last year he was working afternoons and weekends so he was still home when I left for the day and gone when I got back. This meant we kept the house at the “at home” temperature almost all day. Now we have it low (60 d) or off for almost 12 hours a day. Hopefully that will save us some money over last year.

  93. avatar

    I’m thrilled that you linked to MG&E for information about saving money on your energy bills. I moved to Madison 12 years ago and have been consistently impressed with MG&E’s efforts to help their customers save money and burn less carbon fuel. Thank you for giving them some exposure!

    Regarding the tip, however…. I live in a 100 year old home that, even AFTER a whole lot of re-insulating, is a bear to heat. Turning down the thermostat in Wisconsin in the winter isn’t terribly practical but I do use a digital thermostat which lowers automatically during the day and, per the tip in one of the comments above, I think I”ll buy some space heaters for the rooms I’m in the most.

  94. avatar

    I pay so much in Houston to get my place to a comfortable temperature during the summer that once the heat goes away, I almost absolutely refuse to turn the heat on… I have a digital thermostat, and I’ve deactivated it for now, so it doesn’t get bored waiting for the internal temp to get high enough to trigger some A/C action…
    I run the gas heater 8-15 days/year, depending on how fierce the “winter” is. That said, I’m an adult, and I have a cat and dog. No kids, which would change that scenario some. I bundle up in the house, snuggle with the dog, cuddle under blankets to read a library book, that kind of thing. Also, I keep my water heater at a temperature that allows me to run a shower without adding cold water to the mix. Since I don’t run laundry in anything but cold, and I don’t have a dishwasher, my bod is all that wants warmth…

  95. avatar
    How To: $1000 in 30 days Tips Round-up Part 1 | willywei

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  96. avatar

    I live in the north east and I am very aware my of the heating system. 1st off, I ran a sealed “make-up- air” vent to my oil burner, so that the boiler only burns outside air not precious heated air. Next I am keeping my main heating zone at 55, day and night.( I re-zoned my 1st floor zone into 2 zones) Slippers/socks and a fleece is always on. I have no other zones running now. I held off on turning the heat on this year till just last week! I have a matteress blocking the stairs that head up to my walk-up attic, it works perfectly
    Here are a couple of tips to be cautious with- Don’t turn your domestic water down too low, if too low it can harbor legionnaires diseases . In extreme cold areas, don’t turn your heat zones too low, A zone that is not calling for heat can end up freezing, then you end up calling someone like me,(a plumber) Always be totally aware of your outside and inside temps, learn how your boiler/ furnace works. As the winter progresses I will make small adjustments to myzones and temps.

  97. avatar
    Erica P

    Fortunately, I don’t pay for utilities.

  98. avatar

    for this tip, it will be hard to figure out how much i’d save … our thermostat is already very low … i believe we have it around 65 (we live in the northeast) … i’ll keep an eye out to see what adjustments can be made … i can’t do anything more for now …

    total savings = $15/week (day 1)

  99. avatar
    S. Marie Fraide

    Our bill, which is normally around $60 to $80/month was only $16.00. We took the three degrees and made it more like 5-10 degrees and we’re saving BIG TIME!!!

  100. avatar

    The problem with this tip…is that if you are turning your thermostat back up when you get home from work (at any point of the evening) more than 4-6 degrees, your furnace/boiler is going to do double duty to warm up your home. Cold settles…bedding, clothing, pillows etc. THis is an important thing to mention. I have had my thermostat at 50 for two years now….24-7. It almost never comes on but I do heat the downstairs of my 1100 sq foot home with wood. I really enjoy your info, keep up the good work. 🙂

  101. avatar
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  102. avatar

    The local news here did a piece on this only their suggestion was to lower the thermostat down to 60 (or lower) at night. This works best with a programmable thermostat so it’s automatic.

    Then of course they gave the savings in dollars for our area so it was more motivating for people to know what they could save.

    This works great for me. I’ve always slept better when it’s cooler and I can snuggle up in lots of warm blankets and I’m not cold during the day because I have the thermostat set to go back up to 69 just before I have to get up.

  103. avatar

    Marie’s point a few comments above this one is not to be taken lightly. Allowing your home to cool significantly, then heating it back up, places a large load on the system. If your home cools down more than a few degrees, you’ll notice that your furnace will have to run a LOT for an hour or two to get the air in the house warm, then everything else in the house warm again.

    My grandfather is a retired HVAC engineer, and he explained to me why my programable thermostat probably wasn’t saving me much. I can’t begin to recall all of the terms he used, but it made sense to me when he explained it. I guess if your home is moderately to well-insulated, it makes little difference whether you let the furnace kick on a few times an hour throughout the day or you shut it off while you are away or asleep and give it a workout when you get home or wake up. Setting the thermostat lower and leaving it lower will certainly help, but letting the temperature fluctuate wildly will not help much, I’m told. If you will be away for several days and can cut the temp down to 50 or something, by all means do it, but I’m not changing mine from 65 anymore. My heat bill (which was already a ton in the winter) has not gone up.

    Insulating homes with little or no insulation and caulking or replacing old, drafty windows is the best solution to unnecessarily high heating bills, according to what I’ve read. that work is done in my century home, and next I will look into replacing my old old furnace, which I suspect will help quite a bit.

  104. avatar
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  105. avatar
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  106. avatar
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  107. avatar
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  108. avatar

    We live in the northeast and we made it until Nov 23 without turning on the heat. I would have gone longer but when my husband woke up Monday morning and our inside temp was 56 degrees he said “that’s it”. We had a compromise..He turned it on but only to 64 degrees during the day/60 at night. Our Oct bill was $60 less than Oct 2014. Can’t wait to see how much we saved in Nov. We both always packed our lunch (seriously neither of us has ever eaten lunch out and we’ve been married for 29 years). A Major savings for us (maybe didn’t get to it yet) no more morning coffee runs. Got a coffee maker for my bday so $3.99 for coffee for the week instead of $24/week. A $20 per week/$1040 per year savings.

  109. avatar
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  110. avatar
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  111. avatar

    I’d like to add a tip for keeping warm – a heated throw. I turned my thermostat down to 64 (from 67) and this throw helps a lot when I’m just sitting on the couch. Added bonus is that it warms me so I’m not as cold when I get up from sitting. And, of course, moving around helps keep you warm. Night temp on the thermostat is 56 – I have an electric blanket.

  112. avatar
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  113. avatar
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  114. avatar
    So You Wanna Buy a House? Step 2: The Down Payment

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  115. avatar

    I have my heat set at 48 degrees at night. In the morning on weekdays, I turn it up to 53 so the heat comes on while I shower, and to help keep my elderly kitty a bit warmer during the day. When I am home during the evening and on weekends, I have it set at 63. I’ve tried having it lower, but I spend all my time huddled in a ball in front of the TV drinking hot tea. I’m at my limit! The tip is a good one, but it won’t work for me as I have already done it. I also save by having plastic film on my old windows. I have a small entry alcove with a mail slot. I have a double layered curtain (one fleece, one percale) hanging over the doorway between the entry and living room. I do not heat the rooms I seldom use. Once temperatures drop to freezing, I’m only heating one bedroom, a living room and bathroom and only minimally heating my kitchen (it’s about 45 degrees in there). Doing this has saved me quite a bit. This weekend I’m going to by some insulation for my outlets. I noticed some cold air around them.

  116. avatar
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  117. avatar
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  118. avatar
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  119. avatar

    Blankets are a lot cheaper than electricity. I don’t mind bundling up in my own house during the winter a bit to save some money!

  120. avatar

    That is why I just bought programmable thermostat last week. it will help you save time and money. This is a useful tip for many people.

  121. avatar
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  125. avatar

    Useful tip. I will use programmable thermostat to save my money and time.

  126. avatar
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  128. avatar

    Great site.

  129. avatar
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  130. avatar
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  132. avatar
    Luke Yancey

    I never thought that turning the thermostat down three degrees or so would save me that much extra a month. Ten percent! As soon as I get home from work today I am going to try this. It might be too late to save this month, but I need to start somewhere. People may say $10-$20 is hardly anything at all, but as a college student I could eat out one day or see a movie with that!

  133. avatar
    Brooke McAvoy

    It is interesting that turning down your thermostat just slightly could help save so much money. This is something that I would definitely like to try as it starts to get a little bit colder. The nice thing about heat is that if not everyone is as warm as they would like, they can just put on more layers or use a blanket. Thank you for all of your helpful information!

  134. avatar

    Compared to switch off furnace, setting normal or low temperature is the best cost cutting idea and also time for waiting to turn on is low.

  135. avatar

    I put in a programmable thermostat awhile back and find that I change the temperature a lot less now. I set a certain temperature for while I am away during the day, and then it bumps up just slightly before I get home. If I am still cold then I put on my slippers and sweatshirt, and if I am still cold then – I turn on a small space heater. I have saved quite a bit this way. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  136. avatar

    I think turning off the heat completely will only cause it to run longer to heat the apt. back up, say if you leave it at a reasonable temperature to maintain. 64 living room area left end, and 66 bedroom right end of apt. I could lower to 62 and 64 when not home