A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly 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. Find out 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 gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How More Expensive 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 last 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 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
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps manage energy use, reduces 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 significant part, such as the heat exchanger, breaks on your home's heating system during a specific 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 created to make your life better 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 costs—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 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 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 shows 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 likely has valuable rebates for installing a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a portion or even the complete 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 lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program 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 chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill under control:
- Use 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 prevent air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows later on, like 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 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 preventing 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 affects 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 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, pinpoint air leaks and more.
While You're Asleep
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do 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 find the ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each night. You may feel chilly initially, but you'll probably be amazed 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 turn down your thermostat as cool as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, 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 turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're away. Doing this while you're at work can save you up to 10% on heating bills each year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your old, 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 older models only attain around 80%. Getting 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 savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself over time through a cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to 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 price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- 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.
- Odd noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some sounds, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious 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 mean your furnace is using more fuel and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in big doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be replaced immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you're not fully ready for. That's why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is changing home comfort by including everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment necessary.
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- 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
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are many 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 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.