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Have You Turned On Your Furnace Yet?

October 4, 2010 · 56 comments

in Commentary, Personal Finance

If you live in a southern state or some other warm part of the world, you are probably thinking “are you kidding me”?  However, the weather is getting colder up here in Michigan, and so it is time to consider turning on the furnace.  I have actually been thinking about heating lately, and my opinions about it.  Then, on Monday, I was reading a post over at Get Rich Slowly that detailed someone who was traveling the United States very inexpensively, and also how some people live in his country.  There was a lot of discussion regarding home heating, and how some people delay turning on the furnace as long as possible.  Some folks even make a competition out of waiting as along as possible to turn on the furnace.

Well, I would lose that competition every single year.  I love heat.  I am one of those people that gets cold very easily, so my furnace has already been on.  Yes, I know I am not green and I am awful, but I cannot stand being uncomfortably cold.  Sure, I could layer up with sweaters, but I have not found a comfortable sweater yet that covers my nose, ears and fingers.  Therefore, I bask in the heat emanating from the vents, especially the one that blows on my feet when I am rinsing dishes at the sink.  As a matter of fact, I am so opposed to a chilly home that there are certain houses that I dread visiting in cold weather because I know I will be uncomfortable the entire time.

In my defense, I will say that I do try to keep my heating bill as low as possible.  We do have a programmable thermostat.  The temperature is set lower for the sleeping hours, and I manually turn the thermostat down when I know I will be gone for a longer period of time.  I also have the vents closed in the rooms we do not use often, such as the living room.

We are fortunate in that we can afford our heating bill, and I am sure I would think differently if it was a struggle to pay our bill every month.  However, I do save money in many other ways, such as coupon clipping and shopping only when things are on sale.  I guess a warm house is actually a ‘need’ for me, and not a ‘want’.  (I recognize that many people may disagree with me on this one.)

So, what do you think?  Are you willing to be uncomfortable in your home to save some money?  If you live in a warmer state, do you wait as long as possible to turn the air conditioning on?

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole October 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

I do not wait on the a/c. My comfort is paramount. Though after our last ($600) utility bill, I am happy that we can turn the a/c off, open windows and doors, and stop watering the lawn so dang much.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 10:15 am

Ooh, that is a big bill!

I love when we can open the windows and such. However, allergies are so bad here that half the time, I have to keep them closed even when the temperature outside is perfect!


Money Beagle October 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

Ours went on yesterday for the first time! I have an October 1st goal for the furnace, which I usually don’t make, so I was happy that I beat it by two days this year.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

Hi Money Beagle! I had written that post last week, then came across your site that stated your goal after I scheduled it! I chuckled because I am such a temperature baby. Setting a goal for October 1st would have killed me!

Congratulations to you!!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc October 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

Overall, we are unwilling to be uncomfortable to save money on heating. We’re not wasteful nor unreasonable, but I don’t see the financial benefit to be worth deliberating waiting if we are cold.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

We have the same mind Roshawn! I love being comfortable. I will clip coupons and look for sales, but I want my heat or A/C!


Sandy L October 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

I think our furnace went on in August this year..just for a few hours, but yeah, I’d totally lose this one. We have done A TON to improve the efficiency of our home though, so we went from using 5 tanks of oil in a season to 1.5, so I don’t feel as bad doing it anymore. Insulation, new windows and doors do help a lot.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

Sandy – I can’t remember when the heat went on, but I know I had to switch from heat to A/C in the same day! (Gotta love Michigan.)

We have efficient windows and appliances, but my front door is a disaster. Gotta get a new one for sure!


The Biz of Life October 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

Global warming is running rampant in my area. 😉 So no need to turn the furnace on yet. Nighttime temps are in the 40s, and days are 60s-70s.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

Biz – our temperatures have been crazy this year! I do love the chilly temps at night. Sitting out on the patio under a blanket has been so nice. I don’t miss the humidity one bit either!


Invest It Wisely October 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

I am not willing to wallow in discomfort simply to save a few bucks. I live in an apartment and heating doesn’t cost more than $20 to $30 a month even in winter, and I turned on the heating a couple weeks ago since I was waking up in my bed freezing. It gets cold at night. 😉


Kris October 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Wow, there is a stunning example of how renting can be a benefit over owning. 30 dollars for an energy bill would be shocking to me! I can easily pay for 200/month in the winter.


Invest It Wisely October 4, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I actually forgot that I don’t pay for the electricity at this apartment. I must have been thinking of my last one! I’m not gloating at all though… don’t worry, I pay my fair share in rent! 😛

The downside though is that rent can be quite expensive for what you get. Canada’s housing market has been a little out of control lately, but the condo vs apartment comparison still ends up favorably, though that could change if rates jack up.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Kevin – how long do you think you will rent for? Do you like the location you live in?


Invest It Wisely October 5, 2010 at 10:24 am

Until January. That’s when we move into the Condo that is only a couple blocks away and I start paying my own heating bills again. 😉

I like the location for its convenience and easy accessibility, but I don’t like it for the noise. I guess there’s a trade-off though. Going somewhere more distant and quiet would mean less convenience.


Kris October 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

Kevin – that’s right, I forgot about your new condo, sorry about that!


Invest It Wisely October 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

Yep, and I get the small room. When we finally move in, I’ll take some pictures of my little den 😛


Steph October 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

Our heat is included Ingrid rent. The building is on one thermostat so I don’t have have control over it any way.
In the past, I have waited as long as possible to turn it on. One time I lived nine months in an apartment in central Wisconsin and never once did I turn on the heat. It was a small studio so I would heat it with the oven and bake something.
It has been in the 30-40 degree range at night lately, so I would turn it on now. However it is more for other members of the household.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Steph – I would cry if I had no control over the thermostat!

It is shocking you could live in Wisconsin without turning on the heat. Impressive! (Even if it was the oven heating your home 🙂 )


Max October 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm

If you live in the UP, it could start snowing soon, you never know. I live in Wisconsin, so it gets cold pretty quick as well.

It’s always a tough call to turn on the furnace, because it seems like the cold fronts come in waves in the North, like it could be really cold for a few days, but then it could warm up for a little bit, so you’re always thinking the temperature will come back up until one day you realize you can barely type at your computer, because your extremities are frozen stiff.

I like to seal windows with plastic and take other winterizing steps, so I pretty much hold out as long as possible until I have the house completely prepared for the winter, but once I turn the heat on, I’m not that shy about keeping the temperate up to a nice comfort level.

Ah winter, good times to come.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Max – I just heard on the news that we are expecting 80s here in Michigan by the end of the week. You just never know what to expect. I live in a suburb of Detroit, so we don’t get nearly as much snow as the UP.

I have to admit though, I am excited for snow. (No hate mail over that please…)


Suba @ Wealth Informatics October 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This is one area I can gloat about (sorry!). We never really have to turn on the heater for a long time, may be a month or two max. But last year we never turned it on. We manage with space heaters. Works well for our budget and the different level of comfort my husband and I want. My husband is a warmth loving person, I like it a little chilly (def. not to the level that my nose freezes, just a little more cooler than my husband’s comfort level). So space heater works great for us.

Same with fans, even in CA heat we seem to do well with fans. I would prefer AC, but our AC is old and takes LONG time to get the temperature down even 1-2 degree. Cyclone fans do a better job. So no AC, no heaters…


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Suba – you must save a ton in heating and cooling costs, good for you! (I am jealous!)

I have pretty high energy costs in winter because I love to be warm! Oh well, guess I just won’t feed the kids. (hee hee)


Suba@Wealth Informatics October 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Living in CA, we pay for our centralized AC through our higher cost of living I guess 🙂


Kris October 5, 2010 at 9:55 am

Suba – at least you have nice weather and an ocean too. I have blight where I am! 🙂


Squirrelers October 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m with you, Kris. I want to feel comfortable, not freezing cold or blazing hot.

I knew a guy who, about 8 or 9 years ago, told me how he keeps his home at 62 degrees at night in the winter, and has his family wear sweaters. He made a very good salary as well, and lived in a far flung, lower-cost suburb. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. Maybe he was in debt? Anyway, it makes no sense to intentionally make yourself and family suffer.

Being here in the Midwest as well, you know how these temperature swings can come out of nowhere. It’s in the 50’s today (Chicago), but supposed to hit 80 later in the week.


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Squirreler – I know, it is supposed to be 80 by the end of this week, which is pretty exciting.

I can tell you what, I would not be visiting that friend of yours that requires sweaters and refuses to adjust the thermostat.


Aloysa October 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm

No way can I endure any cold for the sake of saving money. I need to be warm or else I am miserable. Heating is the most important home feature for me. Some of my friends try to keep their temps low (it gets pretty cold in the winter in here) and I cannot even visit with them if they don’t increase temps. I know it might sound odd, but I need my heat! 🙂


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Aloysa – We would make fine neighbors. Some of my friends know they might need to adjust the thermostat when I visit. I am sure I seem high maintenance, but I truly get cold so easily.


steve October 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Hey, you are like me.
I am the only man i know like it.
The warmer the better, why be cold when all you have to do is turn the thermostat up.
When people visit me in the winter they always comment how warm my house is, i love it.
Love a toasty car too.
Keep warm



Kris October 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Steve – I am keeping warm as we speak. I love a warm house. Being cold is miserable. It is one of the few things I am willing to spend money on. I love my comfort!


Rebecca October 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Ha! I’m in Denver… generally by this time we’ve already had a snow storm or two. But not this year. In fact, I’m celebrating the fact that we’ve FINALLY had a few days where the thermometer didn’t hit 90! I suppose I should be grateful… I was late getting the tomatoes in after all, and this is giving them a great opportunity to ripen (at least the ones that didn’t catch the blight from all of the weird weather.) But the truth is that it’s a bit disconcerting. We haven’t had a drop of rain in nearly 2 months… I’m starting to wonder if moisture will ever fall from the sky again!

So no… we haven’t turned on the furnace yet! Last year, in fact, we had it replaced with a super efficient hybrid system that uses both a heat pump and a 95% efficient gas furnace. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the results though, as it seems to make really dumb decisions about when to switch from heat pump to furnace. I suppose the fact that last year was a REALLY cold winter didn’t help either. I’ve tried the freezing guilt thing… keeping it set at 65 all winter, but I just couldn’t do it. 68 is about as low as I can go (at least during the day).

I guess we’ll see how it goes this year, but who knows… at this rate I’m starting to think winter will never come!


Rebecca October 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Stop the presses! The gods must be reading your blog. A few blessed rain drops are falling. (OK… it’s only a very few, but I’ll take it.) AT least now I know where to come for divine intervention!


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Rebecca – It has been a very strange summer for weather, that is for sure. My plants are pretty much dying though because it is pretty chilly at night.

We needed rain for a long while this summer too. I can’t believe how dry it has been. I am so glad my blog has the power to control the weather. I wonder what else it can control??

You can’t keep it at 65 or all your friends will abandon you. It’s funny because in the very beginning of spring, 65 seems downright balmy. In the winter though, I am miserable when it is that cold in my house.


Money Reasons October 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

No, I don’t like being cold. But I’m a bit more tempature insensative than my wife (who ironically does try to prolong the turning of furnace).

It’s funny really, the kids and I will be in short sleeve shirt and shorts, while my wife is in sweaters and sweat pants.

So, in a nutshell, no I don’t wait to turn on the furnace, but my wifes does… It just that she gives out before I get cool.

I say, life too short to put up with controllable discomfort!


Kris October 4, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Money Reasons – you are right – life it too short for me to be cold! I am surprised your wife waits so long since she is the chilly one. I am too embarrassed to tell you what my thermostat is set at now, and I have two shirts on and a hoodie. (hint, it is above 70…)


The Financial Blogger October 4, 2010 at 6:45 pm

it was 0 degrees this morning (celsius) at 5am. so yes, the heating is one. I have heated floor… amazing comfort!


Kris October 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Is your floor heated in the kitchen? That would be wonderful. A friend of mine has a heated floor in the tile bathroom, and that would be fantastic. I often wonder how expensive it is to fix if it has a problem though.

I would probably crank up the floor heat and just fall right to sleep on it!


The Financial Blogger October 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

My whole house has heated floor (including the basement). Your feet are always warm and each room has the same temperature.

I don’t want to know how much it cost to fix it ;-). There are hot water tubes all over the place… it would create a huge mess… I guess you just hope that it doesn’t break…same if you have natural gas at home.


Kris October 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

Oh my gosh, that sounds wonderful. I would never leave the house.


Crystal @ BFS October 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

We live in Texas and haven’t needed the heater yet.

Nope, we are willing to pay to be comfortable in our home at all times. Right now that means we’re saving money since the weather is almost perfect without help, but during the summer our electricity bill goes from $70-$90 to $160 for a few months.


JoeTaxpayer October 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm

My wife and I won’t be hot, but cold is ok. In the summer we AC down to 70, but in the winter 65 is fine. It balances out.


Heather October 6, 2010 at 12:38 am

We (living in Phoenix) have a swamp cooler, so we use that in the time between “getting hot” and “super hot.” We do keep the house warm in the summer and cool in the winter. Ceiling fans are helpful, and if it’s really too hot in the house, most of the time, we’ll just go out somewhere.

I had to laugh at the title of the post, though. Through this past weekend, it’s been over 100.


Barb Friedberg October 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Are you reading my mind? I’m totally on the fence. It’s been cold, but I’m usually of the mind to throw on another sweat shirt. Plus, I’m too tired to switch the vents right now! So, haven’t broken down yet!


Kris October 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Congratulations on your strength Barb. However, we have had some really warm weather the last week, so a furnace reprieve for me.


Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer October 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

We used to go to December 1st easy every year but we lived on the coast (in California). Then 3 years ago we moved 20 miles inland and it gets much colder at night! I still try to shoot for December 1, but don’t always make it.

The fall is pretty schizo here with temps in the 100’s one week and in the 60’s the next.


Kris October 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Kay Lynn- We are schizo here too. We are 80 today, but were in the 50s last week. Still kinda chilly at night though.

Boy, making it to December would save me a lot of money. But I do love my comfort!


Donald October 20, 2010 at 7:03 am

We live in St Louis and as of this morning (37 degrees here as I am typing this) we have not turned on the heat. My goal is to make it until November 1.


Kris October 20, 2010 at 8:09 am

Oh my gosh- you must be freezing! My furnace is on basically all the time now! Good luck on your quest, I am sure you are saving a lot more money than I am!


Sam February 18, 2011 at 10:36 am

Nice to know about the little tricks you do to keep your energy bills low. Actually doing these little things like closing the vents of unused or rarely used rooms and lowering the thermostat while you are out, helps a lot in cutting your energy bill and I think everyone of us should try to take these small steps to cut down our energy bills.


duct cleaning ottawa September 17, 2011 at 12:59 am

Tuning your furnace once a year is a good idea. Will add years to the life span of the furnace.


Seattle Furnaces January 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

Totally agree with the advice. Makes sense. You don’t want it failing at the wrong time. Thanks for the sage advice. 🙂


Shelly Slader August 7, 2013 at 11:07 am

I totally understand. I would absolutely hate my life if we didn’t have heating in Edmonton! We’re usually the first house on the block to turn it on every year because I am such a whimp about it.


Dexter August 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

Great information. I am needing a new Edmonton heating system. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks.


Jennifer Sequoia November 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I always like to turn on the furnace before it gets really cold because I want to make sure it is in good working order so that when I need it, it will be ready. Here in the Seattle area, we tend not to have freezing temperatures during the day. It can still feel cold though because of the dampness with all the cloud cover and light rain we get for many months. It’s nice to be able to have the thermostat programmed so that when we come home from work the house is nice and warm. That way we can get rid of the damp chill we’ve had from being out and about.

Thanks for sharing your tips!


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