Your furnace is an important device that keeps you warm and comfortable throughout the winter months. That being said, not all furnaces perform equally, and it’s best to opt for the top level of efficiency to ensure you’re keeping warm in the most economic way possible.  If you’re looking for ways to improve the heating efficiency in your house this season, there are plenty of ways to do so that don’t always involve the expense of replacing your current heating system with a newer, more energy-efficient model. However, in some cases, it might be a good idea to have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace to provide efficiency recommendations.

With that in mind, here are some of our most recommended methods of improving your furnace or heat pump’s heating efficiency this winter. You can also visit this guide for information on how to prime your oil furnace, a process that also helps considerably with heating efficiency.

Draft Proofing

One of the first things you should do is locate the source of drafts in your home. You’ll need to identify any areas where you are losing warm air and cold air is getting in. Common places where you will find drafts are doors, windows, floorboards, baseboards, chimneys, and entrances to unheated lofts or basements. You can find drafts by simply holding a lit candle near these locations to see if the flame remains steady or bounces around due to air movement. 

Draft Proof Doors 

For gaps beneath external doors, you can purchase a brush-style draft excluder or a stuffed draft excluder. You may even be able to find used ones at a second-hand shop or online. 

For a DIY solution, you can make your own using old rolled-up towels or a pair of tights stuffed with worn-out garments. For areas around doors, you can buy weather stripping to fit around the edges of your doors. Install metal keyhole covers to keep them sealed when not in use. If you have a letterbox in your door, install a letterbox brush.

Draft Proof Chimneys 

Do you have a chimney that you don’t use? If so, seal it off. You can purchase an inflatable chimney balloon to seal any air escaping in or out through the flue. 

Alternatively, you can plug the area with a DIY plug made from balled-up newspapers or old cushions and pillows. Just be certain that all members of your household are aware that you’ve plugged the chimney so they don’t attempt to start a fire there.

Draft Proof Windows

Use plastic to seal off your windows in winter if there are drafts found. You can use simple cling film to seal off the inside of window frames or use weathering plastic to seal them up from the outside. 

There is also a product called secondary glazing film that you can purchase and shrink-fit to your window using a regular hair dryer. Other measures include additional plexiglass fitted to the window or weather stripping applied around the edges to seal out any air.

Double glazing

A more permanent solution to ending window drafts is to replace your single-glass windows with double-glazed ones. This is more expensive than the previous suggestions, but it will solve your problem more permanently and add to the value of your home. 

Thermal curtains

Even in winter, a sunny day may bring heat into your home through the windows but as darkness falls, you’ll want to cover them. Your best option is heavy thermal-lined curtains or curtains that you’ve added a thermal lining to yourself. 

You can even use these on doors for added protection against drafts by mounting a curtain above the door frame or using Velcro to seal off the door entirely. 

Loft insulation

Check your loft for insulation. If the existing insulation isn’t getting the job done, replace or add to it so that you aren’t losing heating and cooling into unused space.

Wall insulation

An estimated one-third of all the heat lost in homes is via poorly insulated walls. You can add insulation inside your walls, outside your walls, or externally, depending on your situation. 

Seal floorboard drafts

Small gaps in floorboards can let drafts in. You can easily seal them using a silicone sealant but if you don’t have the time or are renting, you might want to opt for thick rugs instead, preferably with rubber backing. 

If you own the home and are willing to spend a little more, you can add insulation beneath the ground floor of your home between the concrete foundation and your floor panels.

Additional Measures for Energy-Efficient Heating

Once you have sealed off any drafts, you can move on to some of these additional ways to improve the energy efficiency of your heating system this season.

Radiator reflector panels

If you have a home with wall radiators, you may be losing heat into the walls behind them, especially if they are mounted on exterior walls. You can offset this with reflector panels that slide behind the radiator and reflect the heat into the room. You can purchase these and install them with included mounting clips or you can make your own using cardboard and aluminum foil.

Radiator bleeding

When air gets trapped in your radiators, they won’t heat as efficiently. Checking whether your radiator needs to be bled is simple. Just run your hand along the surface. If it is cooler at the top, there is probably air trapped inside. There are many videos and articles online that will guide you through the process of bleeding your radiator.

Furniture adjustments

Check your furniture arrangement to ensure that all heat registers have at least 18 inches around them free of obstruction. If you have wall radiators or vents, make sure no furniture is obstructing the warm air circulation. 

Boiler or furnace service

If your boiler or furnace doesn’t seem to be doing its job and you’ve done all you can to eliminate exterior causes for the chill in your home, have it serviced. 

A qualified technician can tell you if you have any issues or perhaps suggest it’s time for an upgrade. If you have routine service every year, you may have already established that your heating equipment is in good order.

Thermostat adjustments

Consider what times of day you need to use your heating most. If you invest in a programmable thermostat, you can adjust your home to a lower temperature during the day when family members are at work or school and then set it to increase shortly before people will be returning home. Everyone will still be comfortable, but you’ll save on electricity while you are away.

Bottom Line

Not all of these suggestions will work for you and some may not be feasible if you don’t own your home, but the more of them you can apply, the more energy efficient your heating will operate during the winter months.