Should you leave the heat on overnight?

on November 1, 2021

Let’s say you have a really warm bed — a heated blanket and mattress pad, maybe a thick comforter or duvet — and you like the cool winter nights to begin with.

You might be tempted to consider turning off the heat at night. And on the surface, this makes sense: if you don’t need the heat, then what’s the point of running it at all?

But turning off your heat at night can be a costly mistake for your home and your health. Does turning your heat down at night save money? Not when you consider all of the factors in play.

It will cost you sleep

We all need a good night’s sleep. It’s one of the most effective healthy activities that you can do to save money.

Yes, we did say, “save money by sleeping.”

When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you risk developing various health concerns. If you are dealing with poor health related to your sleep, you might find yourself spending more money on prescription medications or even just daily stimulants to keep yourself going.

That loss of energy transfers to your workday. When your productivity drops, so does your income.

Doctors say that temperatures below 60 degrees are not ideal for sleeping. So if you turn off your heat in an effort to save a few bucks, you’re likely going to lose sleep.

And that is doubly important for those of us living in places where temperatures routinely drop into the single digits through the cold winter.

You risk damage to your home

What would you do if you woke up in the morning to an unexpected $5,000 withdrawal from your bank account?

Turn off your heat in the winter and you might find out. When temperatures fall below freezing, the cold snap can cause a soda can-like reaction throughout your house.

When water freezes, it expands. As it swells, it puts more pressure on your pipes, eventually causing them to burst. If you put a soda can in the freezer long enough, it’ll explode. Now imagine that reaction running through your house’s pipes.

Water could escape those pipes and flood your home. And with burst pipes, you would be lucky to shell out just $5,000 to fix the damage.

A better idea: Turn the heat down, not off

Not only is it okay to leave the heater on all night, it can save you money.

Here’s the secret: Set the temperature of your home at least eight degrees lower for the eight hours or so that you sleep at night. Every degree you lower the thermostat can net you an estimated 1% off your heating bill.

So, eight degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to $180 every year.

The reason this works so well isn’t exactly what you think. Yes, the furnace doesn’t have to run as often when the temperature is lower. But saving money on your heating bill has just as much — if not more — to do with managing heat loss.

If your house is warm, it loses heat more quickly when it’s cold outside.

Keep your house temperature lower and it will lose heat more slowly. Yes, your furnace will kick in to bring the house back up to temperature in the morning. But you still use less energy than if you kept the house at a warm temperature the entire time.

But don’t take our word for it — test it yourself! Every home is different, and that “sweet spot” on the thermostat depends on how well-insulated your home is. Figure out where that spot is. Then get a programmable thermostat (if you don’t have one) to put your furnace on a schedule and sleep tight.

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