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 cost of natural gas is expected 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 Going Up?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact 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 affect you as you turn on your heating system and get utility bills. Here's about how much it will affect the average household during the six-month winter heating season, in contrast 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 several things you can do to keep your heating costs down 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 greater efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct 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 make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Checking 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 applicable. This warranty shields 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 overlook booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs designed 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 anyplace 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 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 adapt 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 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 purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle making an efficient schedule that potentially lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to set it for a few days so it can pick up on 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 more comfortable 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 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 reverse 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 keep 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. 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 extra ceiling insulation, since your home leaks 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, locate 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 vary 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 lowering it by a degree every evening. You may feel chilly at first, but you'll likely be surprised how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Gone
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 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 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 best 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 achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. While your exact utility bill savings will vary based on area weather and your temperature preferences, these savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself over time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should start planning for replacement to avoid 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 getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Odd noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some sound 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 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 fuel and may even be generating carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be taken out right away.
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- 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
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are lots of ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 954-736-4314 for an appointment and we'll see 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.