Two Simple Tips to Save on Heating

Flame Lit – Part IV – A limited micro-blog series of energy definitions and quick facts to help improve energy literacy

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Two Simple Tips to save on Heating

The Union of Concerned Scientists have a list of ten personal actions you can take to reduce your energy use and carbon footprint. These are awesome and I highly recommend the read.

Most of us are impatient though, and lifestyle changes take a bit of work and reflection. So what can you do today – right now – to improve your energy bill and help the planet?

In the last post, we learned that 62% of the energy used in your home is for home heating. Your furnace is definitely the right place to start.

First, is your night time temperature turned down to its lowest tolerable setting?

Energy Star Canada recommends 17 C at night. I use 14 C. (Hint – get a big duvet!) Programmable thermostats are the best tool here. “Set it and forget it” is easier than trying to remember it every day. [1]

If you don’t have one yet, an easy hack is to just set your phone alarm to remind you to turn the temperature down a few minutes before bedtime. Toss an extra blanket on those family members who might complain while you are at it!

You can save up to 13% on the natural gas you use with just this one change!

Second, make sure you change out your furnace filter at least every three months*. A dirty filter makes the air blower work harder and distributes heat less efficiently.

Does your filter look like the one in this article? Then it’s best to change it now! Then set a reminder in your online or wall calendar to do it again in three months.

Putting your filter on a three month replacement cycle can save you from 5-15% on your utility costs! [4]

Potential Savings

By making just the two changes above, you can save 18-28% on your natural gas use. According to the Canadian Gas Association, the average annual gas bill is $1009. If half your utility bill is for the gas itself, then you could save between $90 and $140/year.

For those living in a larger home, a colder region, or stuck with higher gas prices, your annual bill might easily be twice as much. In that case, savings work out to between $200-$400/year!

Finally, it’s a good idea to make sure all your furnace parts are working optimally. Call your tech in the summer for a tune up.

And if you are inclined to walk around the house and make a few more simple changes, check out this great list from This Old House.

Next up: Gasoline – the basics. 

Note*: If your furnace manufacturer or tech recommend a different interval based on your model follow that advice.

[1] Smart Thermostats (

[2] How To Use a Thermostat: The Do’s and Don’ts –

[3] (What you need to know about furnace filters – National |

[4] Why You Should Change Your Furnace Filters



Alisa Caswell has a degree in chemical engineering. She spent twenty years working in the oil and gas industry, including roles in business development, operations and energy conservation. You can follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.