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Heating FAQs

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What is the most efficient thermostat setting for heating?

The best setting is the lowest temperature at which your family is comfortable. Most people are comfortable at a setting of 68-70 degrees. You can save up to three percent for each degree you lower your thermostat temperature.

I've heard that setting back my heat can actually cost me more when I turn the thermostat back up. Is this true?

With most heating systems, you will save money by turning your thermostat back when you are away from home four hours or more. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat available at most home improvement stores. If you have a heat pump, you should either set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature and leave it or purchase a programmable thermostat specifically designed for a heat pump.

What is a "dual fuel" system, and how does it work?

Dual fuel systems can switch between two different fuels or energy sources, typically gas and electricity. The most common type combines an electric heat pump with a gas furnace. The heat pump provides heating during milder weather when it is most efficient, and the gas furnace takes over in colder weather when it is most efficient.

I've been using a fireplace to help heat my house, but my energy bills remain high. Why is this?

As a rule, fireplaces are not very efficient for heating your home. They draw a great deal of inside, heated air up the chimney. If you have a fireplace in your home, consider installing glass doors that limit the amount of air drawn up the chimney.

If my heat is not working, is it safe to turn on my oven and open the door for heat?

Absolutely not! If your stove/oven is electric, the exposed elements can cause severe burns if they come in contact with your skin. If you have a gas stove/oven, breathing the combustion byproducts can cause severe breathing difficulties or even death. The safest thing to do is keep all doors and windows closed and bundle up until the heat is restored.

Should I open heating registers in my unfinished basement to keep the water pipes from freezing in winter?

Unless your basement ceiling is insulated, there is probably enough heat loss from the upstairs into the basement to keep pipes from freezing. If your pipes are exposed to cold air leaking in around the perimeter of the basement, you should seal any places where cold air is getting in and insulate the pipes. If you are still concerned about pipes freezing consider installing electric heat tape, directly upon the pipes, available at most hardware and home improvement stores.

Is it a good idea to close or seal off the heating registers in unused rooms?

Closing or sealing a small number of heating registers may cut your heating bills some, but with central forced air systems, closing off more than one-third of your registers can create pressure imbalances and make the blower fan work harder, potentially shortening equipment life.

Should I remove window air conditioners in the winter?

Window air conditioners should either be removed or sealed in winter to prevent cold air from entering the home and warm air escaping. Insulated covers are available which can be effective in reducing this air leakage if it is not feasible to remove the units. Sealing the inside and outside of the units with plastic sheeting can also be effective.