Winter home heating tips

girl hugging dog looking out window

You may find your electricity bill going up during the winter months as the cooler temperatures have you reaching for the dial on your thermostat or space heater to keep toasty.

There are some steps you can take to heat your home more efficiently. A few changes can keep your electricity use down, and help you avoid high winter bills.  

See our tips for:

Baseboard heating

If your home has baseboard heaters you're likely already aware that they can be costly to run. In fact, they can account for up to 50% of your home's overall electricity use. Thankfully with a few simple tips – like turning them off in rooms you're not using, keeping them at an ideal temperature, and ensuring they're kept clean, can help keep your costs down.

Watch the video below to get more tips for using your baseboard heaters efficiently and read our piece 10 things you may not know about electric baseboard heaters.

Setting your thermostat

In winter, heating costs can go up by as much as 140% compared to the rest of the year. One of the most effective things you can do to control your heating costs is to manage your thermostat effectively.

A programmable thermostat is a small investment that can help you manage your heating costs by reducing wasted heat. Simply set it to turn on at the times you're home and turn down when you're out during the day, and at night when you're sleeping.

  • Setting your thermostat at the right temperature is important. Heating costs rise about 5% for every degree above 20°C (68°F) that you set your thermostat.
    • 16°C when you're away from home and sleeping.
    • 21°C when you're relaxing or watching TV.
    • 18°C when you're cooking or doing housework.
  • Set it and forget it. Set your thermostat to adjust at certain times of the day, like when you're asleep or at work. Have your thermostat warm up right before you usually get home in the evening.
  • Manage settings on the go. If you make spontaneous evening plans and have a WiFi-enabled smart thermostat, adjust it right from your smartphone so your home doesn’t get warmed up for your arrival.
  • Do you have baseboard heating or rely on portable space heaters? They can be inefficient, especially for large spaces. Make sure you're using yours as efficiently as possible.
  • 'Smart' thermostat "learn your routine." Thermostats like the Nest will learn your daily routine and automatically adjust the temperature for you.

Draftproofing

Drafts around doors and windows let the cold air into your home and allow the warm air to escape out, causing your heating system to have to work harder (and cost you more to run). Learn how to find the drafts in your home.

Sealing up those drafts is a simple job that only involves a little bit of handy work. Plus, it's one of most cost-effective ways to improve your home's overall efficiency.

Follow along with our how-to video below on applying weatherstripping and see our other step-by-step videos for:

Looking for other do-it-yourself projects to improve your home's efficiency? See our other videos.

Using a space heater

Most portable space heaters use a lot of electricity so if the room you're trying to heat is large, or you have multiple heaters in multiple rooms, they can quickly rack up your bill.  

Using our online cost calculator, you'll see that a 1,400-watt space heater used an average of four hours a day will cost you about $17 a month to operate.

To make the most of a portable heater, follow these tips:

  • Use it in a small or enclosed space.
  • Place it the corner of the room.
  • Keep doors to the room shut to keep the heat in.
  • Turn it off when you leave the room.

No matter what kind of space heater you're using, it's important to keep safety top of mind. Ensure it won't tip over, use it on a level floor, keep blankets and fabric away, and never go to sleep with the heater on.