A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters reports the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly during the winter heating season. Learn why the price of natural gas is getting more expensive 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) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gone up globally, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you turn on your heating system and receive utility bills. Here's about how much it will impact 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets 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 down this winter. Here's how you can save on your gas heating bill.
1. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get greater efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps manage energy use, reduces 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 shields you if a major part, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home's heating system during a certain period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to overlook scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs designed to make your life easier while helping you save money.
With our best-value Maintenance+™, you'll enjoy regular preventive maintenance plus:
- Energy savings up to 30%**
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- No trip or overtime charges—ever
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- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
2. Get a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals advise 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 consuming.
The best smart thermostats for central heating have:
- Wi-Fi capability with an app to manage it from a smartphone or computer.
- A color screen that shows 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 routine based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company likely offers valuable rebates for installing a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part or even the complete cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that likely reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can pick up on your temperature preferences. We recommend 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 maximum energy savings. If this feels too chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill under control:
- Use 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 seal out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to prevent air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, like 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 putting metallic tape on gaps and helps you keep more hot air from your heating system.
- Add weather stripping on windows and doors. Weather stripping is great at preventing cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. Closing 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing more 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 identify how much insulation you need to add, find air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do best in a cool room. During the winter, that can range from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to find the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every night. You might feel cold initially, but you'll probably be amazed how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Away
If you don't have any pets, you can turn down your thermostat as cool as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating and your pipes from freezing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you return, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't heat your home up quicker. It'll just increase your heating bill and result in wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s suggestion to turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're gone. Doing this while you're at the office can save you up to 10% on heating bills each year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating your outdated, inefficient heating system is one of the best ways to save on heating bills. A furnace's efficiency is calculated 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 attain around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. While your exact utility bill reductions 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 Considering 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 avoid being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the price of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it consumes more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness of the problem, it may just be better to buy 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 making carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in large doses. Furnaces seeping this deadly gas should be replaced immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you're not completely prepared for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is changing home comfort by covering everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment required.
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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
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are lots of ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 925-364-5427 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.