Now that I work from home one day per week due to school, I can’t just have the heat down to our normal daytime temperature or I would be very uncomfortable. But running the furnace at our evening levels is costly when it’s just me in the house.
While I’m working, I pretty much just stay in the office. In the evening, we spend most of our time in the family room, which is an addition on the other end of the house. When the last owners put in this addition, they didn’t run ductwork from the furnace. So the new bathroom has no heat and the living room only has an electric baseboard heater.
So what do I do? Well, as you can see by the photo above, I’ve hung a blanket over the doorway of the addition to keep the heat in the main part of the house and the cold air in the addition. After doing so, a thermometer in the addition shows a full 10 degrees lower than the rest of the house. Now, the furnace runs less and we save money. And eventually, I might even add a real door to that frame!
So What Can You Do to Save Money?
Most homes have different layouts, so only you can determine what you can do in your home. As I said, in our home, I block off 2 rooms during the day when I’m home so the furnace runs less. In the evening, I sometimes keep the blanket up while we’re in the addition, lower the furnace and only run the electric baseboard heater.
In your home, do you have a room you just don’t use often? Maybe spare bedrooms, an office, mudroom or even the bathroom? You can simply close the door to that room or hang a blanket over the entry (if there’s no door).
If you have multiple levels in your home, but no door to close off the space between floors, you can hang a sheet or blanket in the stairwell if you don’t travel between floors often. I should warn you to be careful about going up or down the stairs when there is something blocking your way. Sometimes frugality can be dangerous (and unstylish).
Some people also assume that they should just close off the air vents in unused rooms so that other rooms get that hot air. However, a competing theory suggests that closing vents does not actually save money. Instead, the furnace gets all confused about how hot it really is, or may even overheat because that hot air is coming right back to it. I don’t know which side is right yet, but having already gone through an overheated furnace once, I’ll stick with the latter theory for now.
So in your home, see about just closing off a room, rooms, or even an entire floor when not in use to allow the warm air to stay where you want it to be. You’ll save money through heating/cooling costs as well as extending the life of your furnace/air conditioner.