Search this site:

Get the Savvy Consumer Newsletter! (FREE)

Consumer Focus

Savvy Consumer - Consumer Focus
Home > Consumer Focus Archive > Purchasing Appliances > Heating Your Home
Consumer Focus: Purchasing Appliances

Heating Your Home

Image of a big house with snow on the ground and trees in the background. The average household spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Read these tips to learn how insulation, weatherization, and use of Energy Star products can save you money. We also have advice on how to heat your home safely and what to do if you are having trouble paying your energy bill.


Image of a woman caulking a window Energy Efficiency


  • Check to see whether your home has appropriate insulation for your climate. This could reduce your heating costs up to 30%.
  • The R-value of insulation refers to its ability to resist heat transfer. The lower the number, the faster the heat loss. R values should range from 20 to 30 in walls and 50 to 70 in ceilings.
  • Windows are a major source of heat loss. When replacing windows, look for ones with the ENERGY STAR label. They can reduce heating costs up to 15%.
  • Windows are assigned a U-value. The lower the U value, the better the insulation. A U value of .35 or below is recommended in colder climates.
  • Double - paned windows and low - emissivity (low-E) coatings reduce the amount of heat that flows through glass. Less heat is lost in the winter, and less heat enters your home in the summer with these types of windows.


  • Hold a tissue around different sections of your door and window frames. If the tissue waves, you have a draft. Use caulk to fill any gaps between walls and frames.
  • Before you start, remove any old caulk using a putty knife. Be sure to caulk in one continuous stream. Avoid stopping and starting.

Other ways to save energy and money

  • You can purchase Energy Star heating equipment, or even better, an entire Energy Star Home! They feature high performance windows, advanced insulation and sealing, and high efficiency appliances, heating, and cooling systems.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed. Since heat rises, an open damper allows heat to escape from your home.
  • Use fireplace grates made of C shaped metal tubes. They draw cold air into the fireplace and circulate hot air into the room.
  • Close your curtains at night to reduce the chill you feel from cold windows. Insulating curtains are also available.
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable
  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as needed.
  • Make sure warm air registers are not blocked by furniture or drapes.


Image of a house that says SAVINGS on the side with a coin slot in the roof. Energy Assistance $

  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to make your energy bill more affordable this winter.
  • Your gas or electric utility may be able to give you a reduced rate or discount using “Fuel Funds.” These are essentially donations from corporations and other customers.
  • The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program reduces heating and cooling costs for low-income families by improving the energy efficiency of their homes.


Image of a man warming his hands near the fireplace. Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that annually there are thousands of fires and hundreds of deaths associated with portable heaters, fireplaces and chimneys. So it’s vital to make sure your money – saving ideas are also safe.

Space Heaters

  • Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture, or other flammable materials.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
  • Turn the space heater off if you leave the area. Keep children and pets away.


  • Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season. Blockage by debris could cause smoke to enter the room, or worse, cause a chimney fire.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. This prevents the build up of poisonous gases, which can be especially dangerous when your family is sleeping.
  • Keep a screen or glass enclosure around a fireplace to prevent sparks or embers from igniting flammable materials.



Other Resources

This is just a brief overview. For more information, check out these resources:

Read these publications online:


* Names of resources and organizations included in this online article are provided as examples only, and their inclusion does not mean that they are endorsed by the Savvy Consumer Information Center or any Government agency. Also, if a particular resource or organization is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that it is unsatisfactory.

*If you click on these links, you are leaving our website. Please bookmark us before you leave so you can return easily. We are not responsible for the content of these websites.


For more information on other popular consumer issues check out our Consumer Focus Archive.


Search this site:

Get the Savvy Consumer Newsletter! (FREE)