A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters reports the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly 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 already 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 Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you turn 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 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
In comparison to other fuel sources, a natural gas heating system is still the cheapest and most efficient way to heat your home. And there are a few things 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 starts. You'll get more efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to make sure 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, 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 major 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 scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs created 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. Install 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 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 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 probably has valuable rebates for installing a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part or even the complete 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 take care of 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 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:
- 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 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 prevent 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 gathers 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 stopping 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 installing extra 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 vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might feel cold at first, but you'll likely be surprised 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 set your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating 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 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 recommendation 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. Get a New Furnace
Updating your outdated, 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.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while old models only attain around 80%. Getting a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. While your exact utility bill reductions will vary based on local weather and your temperature preferences, these savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to prevent 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 suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird 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 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 mean your furnace is consuming more fuel and may even be generating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this life-threatening gas should be taken out right away.
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- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
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H2: 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 330-235-1260 for an appointment and we'll take a look at 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.