Turn Down the Heat and Still Be Comfortable
We all know the mantra by now—turn down the thermostat during the winter months and you'll save money. And it's true. According to the Department of Energy, for every degree you lower the thermostat, you'll save 1 percent on your energy bill. But turning down the heat has a big drawback—you have to wear extra clothes to stay warm. The solution? Use a space heater to stay comfortable in the room where family members gather, like the living room. Fireplaces and fireplace inserts can provide space heating, but electric heaters are the easiest way to warm up a room.
Baseboard, fan-forced air and oil-filled electric heaters all have roughly the same energy efficiency, although oil-filled units are the quietest (but are also larger and heavier). You'll have to turn down the heat enough (usually 5 degrees F or more) to offset the cost of the electricity used by the space heater and still pocket a savings. Space heaters range in price from $30 to more than $100, depending on benefits like remote control, a programmable thermostat and safety features. You can buy them at home centers, discount stores and online.
Remember, space heaters cut heating bills only if you turn down the temperature in the entire house. The heaters work best in walled-in rooms (rather than in open spaces), where the heat can be contained.
A towel warmer ($50 and up) can act like a small space heater for your bathroom and provide you with a toasty towel after bathing. There are freestanding units and units that mount to the wall and are plugged in or hardwired. Towel warmers are available at comfortchannel.com and other online retailers. Towel warmers don't save energy, but they can keep you warm in the bathroom when the house thermostat is turned down.