9 Myths About Heating Your Home

warming drink at home

When it comes to your home and its various appliances, there’s a lot of misinformation that goes around. These myths can make it hard for homeowners to know what to do to save money and preserve their furnaces and heating systems. Thankfully, they can be easily debunked. Here are 9 myths about heating your home debunked to help you make the right decisions for your home.

Common myths surrounding home heating include the idea that setting the thermostat to a higher temperature will make your home heat up faster, or that heating the basement will heat the rest of the house. These are, of course, not true, and practicing them could be costing you money and putting a strain on your HVAC and heating system. Read below to unlearn 9 myths about home heating so you can save money and extend the lifespan of your furnace.

Myth 1: Closing Vents in Unused Rooms Saves Money

Photo Credit: welcomia / Canva Pro / License

Some believe that you can save money by closing the vents in rooms you aren’t using. The logic behind this is that the air will redirect to other areas and make it easier for the furnace or heat pump to heat the home, but this is not true.

What actually happens is that the airflow in your ducts gets restricted and pressure can build up in the system, which can lead to leaks and therefore wasted money and energy use. It’s recommended that you let your furnace heat your home evenly even if you don’t always use certain rooms.

Myth 2: Space Heaters Are More Efficient Than a Furnace

Another misconception is that, if you’re experiencing a cold spot or one room isn’t heating properly, the best solution is to use a space heater. However, it’s actually better to examine your heating system than to use a portable substitute. Uneven heating is a sign of problems in your furnace, ones that could snowball into bigger ones or complete system failure if ignored.

In addition, space heaters can cost more money than you’d think to run, and aren’t worth using if you’re trying to save by not having your furnace fixed. A space heater can also overload the circuit in your outlet and cause electrical problems. They can even be dangerous by posing a possible fire hazard. They especially become an issue if plugged into surge protectors or extension cords.

Myth 3: Furnaces Don’t Need Maintenance if They’re Working

A common saying is if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. It’s not a bad saying, but it can be facetious, especially when it concerns your home appliances. The myth that furnaces and heating systems only need maintenance if there’s a problem can be harmful, and shorten your system’s lifespan if you subscribe to it.

A furnace and heating system should undergo annual maintenance to keep them in good shape and address any problems you may be missing before they become even bigger problems.

Myth 4: The Bigger the Furnace, the Better

Photo Credit: actual_size / Canva Pro / License

Another myth is that the bigger a furnace is, the more effective it is at heating a home. On some level, this is true, but you shouldn’t get a big furnace if you don’t need one, or else it may lead to serious problems. Short-cycling, increased strain on the unit, and eventual complete system failure can all occur. You should get a furnace proportional to your home size instead of going for the biggest one you can, to ensure it lasts longer and doesn’t develop as many issues.

Myth 5: Cranking the Thermostat Heats the Home Faster

It might seem logical that the higher you set the heat on your thermostat, the faster your house will warm up. Therefore, you should set it higher than you want it to heat the house faster. However, this is not true. The heat in your home will increase at the same rate no matter how high you set it, and if you forget to adjust it once you reach the temperature you want, you wind up wasting money and energy, so it’s best to set it how you want and wait.

Myth 6: Maintaining the Same Temperature Saves Money

A prominent myth is that you shouldn’t lower the temperature in your house to try and save money, since your furnace will burn more fuel to bring the temperature back up. The reality is, though, that you do in fact stand to save money by lowering your home temperature periodically.

Energy.gov recommends that you set your thermostat as low as you’re comfortable with in winter, given you live in an area with cold winters, and that you set it lower at night or when you’re not home. By doing this, you can save money and energy compared to if you keep it the same around the clock.

Myth 7: Fireplaces Heat Homes Efficiently

Photo Credit: PC Photography / Canva Pro / License

Another home heating myth is that a fireplace can heat an entire home effectively, but this is not true. The reality is, fireplaces are a poor way to heat a house. The amount of wood required is costly and chimneys are a major source of heat loss, especially in winter. You shouldn’t rely on a fireplace alone to heat your house, no matter how cozy it is.

Myth 8: Heating the Basement Heats the Whole House

There’s also the myth that if you heat only the basement, it will heat the rest of the house along with it. This stems from the fact that heat rises, so it only seems logical that the heat from the basement would rise to the first floor and above, but it’s not true. You would need a massive, well-insulated basement for this to work, and it would still be highly inefficient. You’re better off heating your whole house normally and letting your ductwork do the rest.

Myth 9: Ceiling Fans Are Only Useful During Summer

Finally, most every home has a ceiling fan or two, and you might think they’re only useful during the warm season. However, they can also help during the cooler months. If you switch the direction they spin, they can be used to circulate warm air in the room and send it downwards, which will help you keep warm. There should be a switch on the motor that will reverse it.

FAQ About Heating Your Home

How can I make my heating system more efficient?

There are a few things you can do to make your heating system more efficient and save energy. Here’s a short list of ways to increase the efficiency of your furnace and heating system:

  • Install an energy-efficient furnace
  • Install a smart thermostat
  • Perform yearly furnace maintenance
  • Change your air filter regularly
  • If you have one, keep your chimney damper shut
  • Insulate your home well

How do I know how strong my furnace needs to be to heat my house effectively?

The most important factor when considering the strength of a furnace is home size. The bigger your home, the stronger it needs to be. The recommended average is 30 to 60 BTUs per square foot. Warmer climates will need closer to 30, while colder will need closer to 60. Multiply your square footage by whichever number is best for your climate and get a furnace that’s at least as strong as the result.

How do I know when my heater needs to be replaced?

There are a few signs that should tell you when you need to replace your furnace. Sometimes, it’s best to replace the furnace simply because it’s old and has become inefficient or outdated, but other times it becomes necessary due to malfunctions or damage. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • High energy bills
  • Strange noises
  • Humidity issues
  • Uneven heating
  • Visible rust, dirt, or cracks

Can solar power heat my home?

As long as you use solar panels in conjunction with an electric heating system like a heat pump, you can most certainly use them to heat your home. It can save you a lot of money on your heating bills, and since it’s a renewable energy source, it doesn’t burn harmful fossil fuels. An air source heat pump is particularly efficient since it uses the heat from the outdoors, though you will need another source during the winter or if you live in a cold climate.

Heat Things Up

Heating myths can cost you money and furnace life, but they’re fairly easy to avoid. Use what works best for you and your home to keep warm without breaking the bank.

If you need help with your furnace and heating system, contact your local HVAC professionals. They can service your HVAC system to keep it in good working order and help it heat your home more effectively.

Main Photo Credit: baza178 / Canva Pro / License

Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.