Should You Leave Your Heat On All Day or Turn It Off? Which is Cheaper?

Which option will help you save on your energy bills?

Person operating a thermostat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With energy prices increasing, heating your home is proving difficult for many to afford. This peak in prices is leading many to search for alternative ways to save on energy bills during the winter. However, the solution can be easier than you think. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you should leave your heat on low all day or turn it off when you’re gone, keep reading. 

The idea that your heater has to work harder to heat a cold house than it does to keep a home warm is a common misconception. Your home will heat at the same rate, regardless of how cold it is inside. Considering the typical household spends $4,400 (opens in new tab) a year on utility bills, it doesn’t make sense to expend energy if you’re not home. If you plan on being away from home for an extended period, turn off your heater so you’re not paying for heat all day. 

If turning the heat off all day isn’t an option, then the next best thing is to keep your thermostat setting low to cut your bills. When you are home it’s recommended to turn your thermostat down to 68°F for 8 hours a day. You’ll be able to maximize your savings by making sure your home is properly insulated so it loses less heat. 

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Purchasing a smart thermostat is also a great solution to keeping your home at the appropriate temperature. With a smart thermostat, you’ll be able to control your home’s temperature from your phone, allowing you to schedule different temperatures for different times of the day or to shut your heat off/on whenever you want.

Other ways to save on energy costs

  • Make sure your home is well insulated so it loses less heat. If you don't already have it, insulation is a good investment as it reduces your future bills.
  • Switch to LED lightbulbs — they use 75% less energy (opens in new tab) than incandescent/halogen lightbulbs 
  • Consider whether solar panels could be an option for your property
  • Place your thermostat where it will give you the most accurate temperature — avoid drafty windows or direct sunlight 
  • Wash your clothes in cold water — this can cut your energy usage in half when doing laundry 
  • Bundle up — wear warm clothes and use blankets to avoid turning up the heat

Bottom line

Overall, turning your heater off during the day when you’re not home is the best way to save on heating costs. If you’re out at work all day, flip off your heat until you get home. If you work from home and are unable to shut your heat off completely, then try keeping your thermostat at a low temperature during the day.

Purchasing a smart thermostat gives you the option of controlling the heat in your home from your phone, helping you to save money on utility bills during cold spells. 

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.