A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly during the winter heating season. Find out why the price of natural gas is going up and how to save on gas heating bills this year.
Why Is Natural Gas Going Up?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the need for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How More Expensive Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you switch on your heating system and receive utility bills. Here's about how much it will affect the average household during the six-month winter heating season, as compared to last year.
- Average heating bill for 2020 season: $573, or about $95.50 monthly.
- Average heating bill for 2021 season: $746, or about $124.33 monthly. That's about a 30% increase from last year.
4 Tips for Saving on Heating Costs
Compared to other fuel sources, a natural gas heating system is still the cheapest and most efficient way to heat your home. And there are a few things you can do to keep your heating costs affordable this winter. Here's how you can save on your gas heating bill.
1. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control energy use, decreases the chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, most manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty protects you if a significant part, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home's heating system during a specific period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to forget about scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we provide membership programs created to make your life better while helping you save money.
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- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
2. Get a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals recommend updating your programmable thermostat with one that's "smart" to save money on your energy bill. This means it uses Wi-Fi, so you can regulate your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed in the morning, or just about anywhere in the world. You'll receive real-time updates on how much energy you're using.
The best smart thermostats for central heating have:
- Wi-Fi capability with an app to control it from a smartphone or computer.
- A color screen that displays the current temperature and humidity levels at home, as well as outside weather forecasts so you can adjust accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically adjust the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that makes an energy-efficient heating schedule based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company likely offers valuable rebates for adding a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part or even the full cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that potentially lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can learn your temperature preferences. We suggest following these winter thermostat settings from the U.S. Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR.
When You're at Home
Your thermostat should be set to 68 degrees for the greatest energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill in check:
- Choose window treatments that block heat loss, like as honeycomb shades, plantation shutters or window blankets, which are thick quilts.
- Open south-facing window treatments during the daytime to let in natural heat from the sun. Keep your windows covered at night to keep out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to prevent air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, such as double pane with insulating gas or triple pane.
- Set ceiling fans to reverse so they can disperse warm air that gathers near the ceiling.
- Have an HVAC professional seal heating ducts. This is often done through adding metallic tape on gaps and helps you retain more hot air from your heating system.
- Add weather stripping on windows and doors. Weather stripping is very good at stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. Shutting off vents in rooms you don't use is a bad idea since it can impact air balance and make your furnace work harder. Also, try not to block vents as this affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding additional ceiling insulation, since your home loses a lot of hot air through the attic.
- Schedule an energy audit through your natural gas company. This service is usually free and offers valuable advice on how to save money and lower your heating bill. It may help you determine how much insulation you need to add, pinpoint air leaks and more.
While You're Asleep
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do best in a cold room. During the winter, that can vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing your thermostat for about a week to choose the ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each night. You might feel cold at first, but you'll likely be amazed how comfortable you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Away
If you don't have any pets, you can set your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't heat your home up faster. It'll just increase your heating bill and cause wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s suggestion to set your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're gone. Doing this while you're at work can save you up to 10% on heating bills every year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Replacing your outdated, inefficient heating system is one of the smartest ways to save on heating bills. A furnace's efficiency is measured in AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Simply put, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Modern furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while old models only achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. While your precise utility bill savings will vary based on area weather and your temperature preferences, these cost savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself over time through a cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the price of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You'll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some noises, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's awry. Based on the seriousness of the issue, it may just be better to get a new furnace.
- Yellow burner flames. Your furnace's burner flames should always be blue. Yellow flames suggest your furnace is consuming more gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be replaced right away.
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- Guaranteed 24/7/365 priority service
- No trip or overtime charges—ever
- Repairs, labor, parts and air filters at no added charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on every appointment
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 440-252-1375 for an appointment and we'll take a look at what you can do to save money this winter!
*For HVAC Service Memberships, certain warranty exclusions and limitations apply. See your signed agreement for full terms and conditions. For the Advantage Program™, please see your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. Lease with approved credit; visit ServiceExperts.com for details. **Potential savings may vary depending on age and condition of equipment, personal lifestyle, system settings, equipment maintenance, and installation of equipment and duct system.