Whole House Approach - No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, energy efficient furnaces or boilers alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling, and reduce environmental emissions 20%-50%
Sunshine! - Windows on the south side of the house get the most sunlight. Eastern facing windows get sunlights in the morning and western facing windows receive sunlight in the afternoon. Open shades and drapes during the daytime to let the sun's warmth enter your home, and close when the sun goes down.
Heat Selected Areas of Your Home - Don't heat areas of your house you don't use regularly, such as guest rooms. Close heating vents, fireplace damper and closet doors when not in use. Be mindful, however, of closing off rooms that may affect your water pipes where you could risk them freezing.
Air Conditioning Units - Remove air conditioning window units when the heat is on, or cover them well.
Radiators - Keep radiators free of dust for top efficiency.
Set Your Thermostat - According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling bills by simply turning the thermostat back by 10 to 15 degrees. Don't turn your thermostat up above of the desired temperature. It won't heat up any more quickly and will make your furnace work harder. Also, while it makes sense to turn the heat back when you're sleeping or not at home, turning it down too low can actually cost you more because the contents of the house have to be reheated in addition to the air. 68 to 70 degrees while you are home and awake and 60 to 65 degrees while you're asleep or not home are reasonable temperatures. Consider a programmable thermostat to raise and lower the temperature at pre-set times.
Pipes and Water Heaters - Wrap your pipes to guard against heat loss and prevent them from freezing. If your water heater in in an unheated space like un unfinished basement, wrap it in an insulation blanket available at hardware stores to prevent heat loss.
Showers - It's tempting to stand under a hot shower on a cold morning for as long as possible, but cutting your shower time in half can save up to 33% on your hot water heating costs.
Space Heaters - Avoid using space heaters. They're expensive to operate and can be dangerous, too.
Thresholds - Check your threshold for any gaps between it and the door. Use a bottom seal that can be attached to the bottom of the door - it should brush up against the floor to seal up the threshold. It virtually stops drafts.
Regular Maintenance - Get a heating system tune-up. It'll ensure you get maximum performance from every drop of heating oil burned. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your furnace or heat pump. Poorly tuned units are inefficient and use more fuel.
Insulation - Make sure you have good insulation on exterior walls, ceilings with cold spaces above, and floors with cold spaces below.
Windows - Change the windows. Consider the new E glass, which will decrease radiant heat loss without lowering visibility.
Oil Burner - Upgrade your oil burner. A modern burner can cut costs by 15%.
(Some of the information in this section is courtesy of www.oilheatamerica.com)