How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Goes Up
A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters reports the price of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly 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) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is because the demand 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 affect 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 last year.
4 Tips 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 save on your gas heating bill.
1. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You’ll get less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting 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 right.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty applicable. This warranty shields you if a significant component, 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 scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That’s why we provide membership programs designed 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 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 updating 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 anywhere 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 capability 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 adjust 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 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 purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of creating an efficient schedule that potentially reduces your heating bill, but you’ll need to program it for a few days so it can pick up on your temperature preferences. We recommend using 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 warmer and your heating bill in check:
- 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 seal 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 reverse 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 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 adding additional 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 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 cool 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 night. You may feel chilly at first, but you’ll likely be amazed how comfy you can be at a cooler 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 operating and your pipes from freezing. But don’t be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won’t heat your home up faster. It’ll just drive up 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 turn 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. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your old, inefficient heating system is one of the smartest 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.
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 lead to big savings on your heating bills over your furnace’s life. While your precise utility bill reductions 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 cheaper 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. Many furnaces run 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 cost. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the cost of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You’ll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Odd noises. It’s normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some sounds, particularly rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something’s awry. Based on the severity of the issue, 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 consuming more fuel and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be taken out right away.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you’re not fully ready for. That’s why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is transforming home comfort by including everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment necessary.
For just one reasonable 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 added 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 & Plumbing
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 866-397-3787 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.
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