Lower Your Home Heating Costs This Winter

By Mike Eide

I was watching an episode of a show recently in which they made reference to the Pareto Principle. Just in case you are unsure of what the Pareto principle is (also known as the 80/20 rule) it simply states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The show I was watching used the rule to show how 80% of a businesses profit comes from 20% of their customers.

The real reason that this part of the show I was watching stuck with me is because it also applies to something I learned with fireplaces years ago. The average family will spend 80% of their time in 20% of their home. If you really think about it I am sure you will find that this is true for you too. Maybe it is your living room, your family room, or maybe your bedroom but in most cases this rule will apply to your family.

Now listen carefully, what I am about to tell you can save you money on your home heating costs. It does not make sense to heat 100% of your home, 100% of the time. This is not a knock on your furnace, they are great heaters and on cold days like this last week here in Alberta you cannot live without them, but it still doesn’t make sense to be heating the other parts of your home to a comfortable temperature if you are not spending your evenings there. That is just wasted money. Why not instead heat those areas of your home to your desired temperature once you will be occupying those areas of your home? We live in a day and age where most of our homes come with or have been modified to include two things. One being a programmable thermostat that often can be programmed for a full 7 days (or even multiple temps. at different times of the day). The second is a fireplace often located in a room in which you spend the most time in your home.

You see what I am getting at here, why not program your furnace to a lower temperature during the day and early evening when your family will be spending their time in your family room together. Instead light that fireplace and heat that area. Fireplaces have come a long way in the last 15 years to become quite cost effective and efficient heaters. According to fireplaces.com’s Gas Appliance Cost Calculator the cost to run a typical 36” natural gas fireplace (approx. 30,000-40,000 BTU’s) is $0.32 – $0.42 per hour. A fireplace with that size and heat output is enough to heat the average family room quite nicely. Using the same Gas Appliance Cost Calculator for a furnace with approximately 100,000 BTU output, the cost grows to $1.04 per hour. The difference is staggering!

Using the Pareto principle in your home will help you save money on your home heating costs. All you need to do is program your furnace thermostat so that it stays at a lower comfortable temp during the day while nobody is home, have it heat up right before the time of day everybody is getting home but again lower it in the early evening when you are spending most of your time near your fireplace in your family or living room. That’s your fireplaces time to shine and keep your family warm and toasty in that room. You can go one step further and install a thermostat on your fireplace ensuring that the room temp stays at a comfortable level so that the fireplace does not have to stay running the whole time you are enjoying your time in that area of your home. Apply this technique and I am sure you will notice the reduction in your heating bills saving you money, and this time of year who couldn’t use a little extra money in their pockets? Until next week happy heating!

Have you applied this principle to your home heating in the past? Or do you know what show I was watching that referred to this principle? If so be sure to comment below.