A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the price of natural gas is expected to rise significantly during the winter heating season. Learn 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 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 affect 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 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets 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 a few 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
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get more efficiency and it's less expensive 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 avoid deadly 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 correct.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
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 valid. This warranty shields you if a major part, such as 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 forget about booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs designed to make your life easier 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 products
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
For the greatest comfort, there's Armor+™. This plan offers all the benefits of Maintenance+, in addition to:
- 100% parts and labor coverage for repairs*
- Air filter replacement
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 when you wake up, or just about anywhere 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 capabilities 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 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. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of creating an efficient schedule that likely reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to set 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too chilly, 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 prevent air leaks. Consider getting energy-saving windows in the future, like 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 belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are open. Closing vents in rooms you don't use is a bad idea since it can affect 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 additional 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 often free and provides valuable advice on how to save money and lower your heating bill. It may help you determine 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 vary 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 decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might 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 set your thermostat as cool 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 increase your heating bill and result in 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 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 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 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 reductions 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 cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to begin considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many 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 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.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird noises. It's typical 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 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 generating carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be replaced right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big 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 stress-free subscription program is transforming home comfort by covering everything, with no big 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 extra charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Strogen's Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are lots of ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 603-923-4570 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.