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 price of natural gas is anticipated to rise dramatically 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) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive around the world, 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 Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will affect you as you switch 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, 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 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 steps you can take to 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 efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- 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 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 valid. This warranty shields you if a major part, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home's heating system during a specific period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to forget about booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we provide membership programs created to make your life better while helping you save money.
With our best-value Maintenance+™, you'll enjoy 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 solutions
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
2. Install 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 in the morning, 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 adjust accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically set the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that makes an energy-efficient heating routine 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 portion 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 potentially reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to set 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 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 prevent air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows later on, like 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 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 great at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are open. 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding more 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 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 Sleeping
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. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each evening. You may feel chilly at first, but you'll probably be surprised how comfy 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 cool 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 setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up quicker. It'll just drive up your heating bill and cause 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 the office can save you up to 10% on heating bills each year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing 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. In other words, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older models only achieve 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 precise 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 in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should start planning for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being higher.
- Unusual 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 an obvious 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 mean your furnace is consuming more fuel and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in large doses. Furnaces seeping this dangerous gas should be taken out right away.
We understand that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not completely ready 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 large up-front cost or down payment necessary.
For just one low monthly fee, you'll get:
- 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 every appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with All American Air Service Experts
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, call us at 386-310-2061 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.