How NOT to Use Your Heater

When it comes to winter in Minnesota, the name of the game is heating. And yes, as natives know, February is still very much winter in Minnesota. For the next month or two (or three…), your quality of life will be determined largely by your heating. Knowing how to best utilize your heater this winter could be the difference between comfort and frustration.

Ironically, probably the most important thing to know about your heating is how not to use it. Heating systems are easy to use, but it takes more to use them effectively than you may think. That’s why we put together this list of four ways NOT to use your heating system this winter. If you can avoid doing these four things, you’ll save money, stay warm, and feel comfortable. Just make sure you DON’T…

Turn the Thermostat Up to Heat Too High, Too Fast

We see this mistake all the time, and it’s not hard to understand why. You’re freezing, and you want to warm your home up fast, so you crank up the heat on your thermostat. After all, if your heater is working on reaching really high temperatures, it’ll get to warm temperatures faster, right? Unfortunately, that’s not how heaters work.

Heating systems always “warm up” at the same rate, regardless of the temperature they’re targeting. The thermostat tells the heater to keep running until the air reaches your desired temperature.The only thing turning up a thermostat affects is how long the heater runs. The longer your heater runs, the higher your heating bill will be. You won’t be any more comfortable–in fact, you’ll probably end up less comfortable!–and you’ll pay more. Simply set your thermostat to exactly where you want your home’s temperature to be. It’s easier, more effective, and it’ll save you money to boot.

Leave the Heat Turned Up When You’re Out All Day

You’ve probably heard that it takes more power to re-heat a cold home than to maintain warm temperatures constantly. Unfortunately, this a common misconception, just like turning your thermostat up to heat “quickly”. Conventional furnaces don’t run “more” or “less”; they’re simply on or off. That means raising a temperature to a certain point and running to maintain temperature take the same effort. The only thing that affects your heating bill is how high you set the temperature.

In other words, turning down your thermostat saves money. When you leave your home for six hours or more, consider turning your thermostat down several degrees. Don’t turn it down all the way, however, or it will take a too long to power back up. Besides, you’ll freeze while you’re waiting! Turning down the thermostat a few degrees when you go out is the perfect compromise between comfort and savings. You stay warm AND save money.

Change the Thermostat Temperature Too Frequently

As we said in the last two entries, furnace units only use power when they’re operating. The only time furnace units operate is when they have to raise the temperature to the thermostat setting. When the air temperature reaches the thermostat setting, conventional furnaces enter standby until the temperature drops again. If you turn your thermostat down, your furnace will enter standby until the temperature falls below the new setting.

You want to keep your furnace on standby as often as possible–without sacrificing your comfort. The best way to do that is to maintain a steady temperature. Messing with the thermostat will force the furnace to turn on and off to adjust the temperature. Leaving the temperature alone, on the other hand, allows the furnace to enter standby for extended periods. Find the best temperature for your home and stick to it.

Turn It Down Too Low At Night

Don’t get us wrong; we highly recommend turning down your thermostat at night. Sleeping in cool temperatures is more comfortable, and it saves money too. We just don’t want you to go overboard with it. Turning down the thermostat a few degrees is perfect for sleeping, but any more than that could create problems. You don’t want to wake up in a home that’s freezing–trust us.

Letting your home cool down all night will create a lot of work for your furnace come morning. It doesn’t take long to get to 70℉ from 62, but it will take awhile to get there from 30! You’ll be just as comfortable snoozing at 60℉ as you’d be 30, so don’t strain your furnace! Most importantly, it won’t be so cold the next morning that you can’t get out of bed. Getting out of bed in the winter time is hard enough as is.


These may sound like a lot of rules, but they’re all really simple. Just stick to a comfortable temperature and don’t use heat you don’t need, and you’re on your way. For anything more complicated, feel free to give Blue Ox a call any time. We’re always happy to help ensure you have a happy and comfortable winter. Stay warm!