A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says the price of natural gas is expected to rise significantly 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 Going Up?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive 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 Affect 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 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets for Saving on Heating Costs
In comparison to other fuel sources, a natural gas heating system is still the most affordable and most efficient way to heat your home. And there are several steps you can take to you can do to keep your heating costs affordable this winter. Here's how you can spend less 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 fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps manage 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 major part, 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.
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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 replacing 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 when you wake up, 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 capabilities with an app to manage 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 set the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that creates an energy-efficient heating schedule based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company likely 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 buy one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that potentially reduces 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 maximum energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling more comfortable and your heating bill under control:
- 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 day 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 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 keep 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 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding extra 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 usually free and provides valuable advice on how to save money and lower your heating bill. It may help you determine 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 experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to find the ideal temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each night. You may feel cold initially, but you'll likely be amazed how comfy 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 low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you get back, instead of switching 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 use the Department of Energy’s advice 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 best 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.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older models only attain around 80%. Getting a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. While your precise utility bill reductions will vary based on local weather and your temperature preferences, these savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin planning for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. 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 consistent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being higher.
- Odd noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's awry. Based on the seriousness of the problem, 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 using more gas and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in big doses. Furnaces leaking this hazardous gas should be taken out immediately.
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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 each appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save Money on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 303-647-5853 for an appointment and we'll see 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.