A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the cost of natural gas is expected to rise significantly during the winter heating season. Find out 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?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gone up globally, according to Reuters. This is because the need 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 switch 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, in contrast 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 Secrets for Saving on Heating Costs
Compared 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 a few 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. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get more efficiency and it's less expensive than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking 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 overlook booking 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 costs—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 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 anyplace in the world. You'll get real-time updates on how much energy you're using.
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 shows the current temperature and humidity levels at home, as well as outside weather forecasts so you can adapt 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 probably offers 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 check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle making an efficient schedule that likely reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to set it for a few days so it can learn 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 under control:
- Choose 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 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 stop air leaks. Consider getting 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 collects 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 great at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are open. Shutting off vents in rooms you don't use is a bad idea since it can affect 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 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 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 right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You may feel cold at first, but you'll probably be amazed how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can impact your heating bill!
While You're Gone
If you don't have any pets, you can turn down your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from freezing. 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 drive up 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 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 each year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Updating your old, 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. In other words, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Newer 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 big 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 Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin planning 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 cost of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes 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 a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness of the issue, 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 fuel and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces seeping this deadly gas should be taken out immediately.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, plus valuable manufacturer's rebates
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- 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 every appointment
- Regular 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, call us at 305-440-1505 for an appointment and we'll take a look at what you can do to spend less 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.