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. 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 Getting More Expensive?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gone up globally, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now greater 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 impact 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 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 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. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get more efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps manage energy use, decreases the likelihood 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 significant 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 forget about booking 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 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
For the greatest comfort, there's Armor+™. This plan provides 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 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 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 adapt 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 adding a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part 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 creating an efficient schedule that potentially reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can learn your temperature preferences. We recommend 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 under control:
- 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 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 getting 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 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 very good at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. 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 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 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, locate air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do best in a cool 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 find the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each night. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll likely be surprised how comfortable you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Away
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 icing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't heat your home up faster. It'll just increase your heating bill and cause wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s recommendation to turn 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 every year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Updating your old, inefficient heating system is one of the smartest 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.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while old models only achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. While your precise utility bill savings will vary based on area 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 Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should start planning for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the price of a new system, we suggest getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being higher.
- Weird noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness 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 creating carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be replaced immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a shock that you're not fully prepared for. That's why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment required.
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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 added charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Strand Brothers Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 512-596-1257 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.