How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Goes Up
A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise dramatically during the winter heating season. Learn why the price of natural gas is going up and how to save on gas heating bills this year.
Why Is Natural Gas Getting More Expensive?
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 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 get utility bills. Here’s about how much it will impact the average household during the six-month winter heating season, as compared to 2020.
- 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 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 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 starts. You’ll get more than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, decreases the chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty applicable. This warranty protects you if a significant component, like the heat exchanger, breaks on your home’s heating system during a certain period.
We know you’re busy and that it’s easy to forget about scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That’s why we offer membership programs created to make your life easier while helping you save money.
With our best-value Maintenance+™, you’ll receive regular preventive maintenance plus:
- Energy savings up to 30%**
- Guaranteed 24/7/365 priority service
- No trip or overtime charges—ever
- 15% discount on repairs and air purification products
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
2. Get a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals recommend replacing your programmable thermostat with one that’s “smart” to save money on your energy bill. This means it connects to Wi-Fi, so you can control your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed when you wake up, or just about anywhere in the world. You’ll get 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 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 creates an energy-efficient heating schedule based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company probably has valuable rebates for installing a smart thermostat, since they’re ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part or even the full cost of the thermostat, so contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle making an efficient schedule that potentially 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill in check:
- Use window treatments that block heat loss, such 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 stop air leaks. Consider getting energy-saving windows later on, such as double pane with insulating gas or triple pane.
- Set ceiling fans to counterclockwise 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 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 should be.
- Make sure heating vents are open. 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding additional ceiling insulation, since your home leaks a lot of hot air through the attic.
- Book an energy audit through your natural gas company. This service is often 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 Asleep
The National Sleep Foundation says most people sleep best in a cold room. During the winter, that can range from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree each night. You might feel chilly at first, but you’ll likely be amazed how comfy 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 operating and your pipes from freezing. But don’t be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won’t warm your home up faster. 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 recommendation 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 every year.
4. Upgrade Your 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. In other words, 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 lead to major savings on your heating bills over your furnace’s life. While your exact utility bill savings will vary based on local weather and your temperature preferences, these cost savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself over time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Begin Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it’s time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the cost of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it uses more energy. You’ll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being higher.
- Odd noises. It’s typical for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some sounds, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something’s wrong. 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 mean your furnace is using more gas and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in big doses. Furnaces seeping this dangerous gas should be replaced right away.
We understand that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a surprise that you’re not fully ready for. That’s why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment needed.
For only one low monthly fee, you’ll receive:
- A new, high-efficiency furnace, as well as valuable manufacturer’s rebates
- Expert installation at no extra charge
- Guaranteed 24/7/365 priority service
- No trip or overtime charges—ever
- Repairs, labor, parts and air filters at no extra charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, call us at 866-397-3787 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.
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