Looking for ways to keep warm and lower heating costs this winter?  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating costs account for about 54 percent of the average American homeowner’s monthly utility costs. Unfortunately, many people unknowingly increase their heating costs by buying into some common misconceptions and myths.

Although a roaring fire may make you feel cozy and warm, fireplaces suck heat out of your home and actually cause your heating system to have to work harder.

The U.S. Department of Energy classifies traditional fireplaces as “energy losers”, and recommends that they be used for strictly ornamental purposes – like displaying your Christmas stockings.

Still, millions of Americans will gather around their fireplaces this winter, blissfully unaware that their energy savings are literally “going up in smoke.”

Another common misconception is the belief that closing off vents to unused parts of the home will help lower your heating costs. Interior walls are not designed to prevent heat transfer. In essence, the colder air in the unused rooms can actually cause the warmer air in occupied rooms to be sucked through the walls.  Obstructing the designed air flow can also harm your heating system over time.

Contrary to popular belief, setting your thermostat higher than the desired temperature will not warm your home up any faster. It will, however, cause the system to run longer and in doing so will waste energy and place an unnecessary demand on your heating system.

Another fallacy is the belief that leaving your heater running during times when the home is unoccupied reduces heating costs by maintaining a constant temperature. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning your thermostat down by 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours at a time can reduce your heating costs by as much as 10 percent.

Finally, although space heaters may provide temporary warmth, they are extremely inefficient and potentially dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are responsible for more than 25,000 residential fires and approximately 300 fatalities each
and every year.

Are there other heating myths we’ve missed?  If so, please leave a comment.  We’d love to hear your thoughts.