Other than the fact that a furnace provides heat there is absolutely nothing exciting about running one. Some older models are incredibly loud and distracting, forcing you to increase the volume on the TV every time it kicks on, and all will increase your utility bill. Unfortunately, going without heat is not something you can do unless you live somewhere really hot, like the southernmost tip of Texas. There are other heat sources though that you can use, and some will cost less than your furnace to run. You may not be able to turn your furnace off completely, but you can certainly turn it down while using alternative options.
Electric Wall Fireplaces
Many people assume electric wall fireplaces increase a utility bill a substantial amount. This is actually not true. Quality electric fireplaces use about as much electricity as your coffeemaker, and that is it. They literally cost pennies per hour to operate. Plus, they create ambiance, which is something your furnace certainly is not capable of doing. There are even some that let you turn the heat off completely, if you want to continue to enjoy the ambiance through the warm summer months.
Gel for gel fireplaces is made of gelled isopropyl alcohol. The flame is toasty warm yet it creates no smoke, so you can use it indoors without a chimney. You simply peel the label off a can, add it to your gel fireplace, and ignite. It provides a realistic flame. Some people even keep a stock of these cans of gel to use without a fireplace in case the power goes out.
Bio Ethanol Fireplaces
Like gel varieties, bio ethanol fireplaces are also environmentally-friendly. Bio ethanol is a liquid fuel that you add to a bio fuel fireplace. It is made from fermented sugars of sustainable crops, such as beets and potatoes. It does not create smoke either. Unlike electric fireplaces though, there is no way to enjoy the ambiance of a flame without the heat.
You have to be really careful with portable heaters because some will draw a lot of energy. The idea is to buy one that provides a nice amount of heat without hogging a lot of electricity. This is also a nice heat source if the power goes out, if you have an inverter or generator. Some people even choose to use kerosene heaters as a supplemental heat source, as well.