How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Increases
A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially 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. 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) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact the need for energy is now greater 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 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
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. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You’ll get more than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent 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.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, decreases the chance 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 major part, like 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 forget about scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That’s why we provide membership programs created 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 solutions
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
2. Install a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals advise 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 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 control 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 instantly 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 offers 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 buy one.
3. Select 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 learn 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill under control:
- 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 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 stop air leaks. Consider getting energy-saving windows in the future, such as 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 preventing cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. Shutting off 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing 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 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 range from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to choose the ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree each evening. You may feel chilly at first, but you’ll probably be surprised how comfy 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 set your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating and your pipes from icing. 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 quicker. It’ll just drive up 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 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 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 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 lifetime. While your precise utility bill reductions will vary based on area 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 Begin Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications 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 start preparation for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- 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 higher.
- Unusual 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 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 using more gas and may even be generating carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this deadly gas should be replaced right away.
We understand that furnace replacement is a big 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 transforming home comfort by including everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment required.
For just one low monthly fee, you’ll receive:
- A new, high-efficiency furnace, plus valuable manufacturer’s rebates
- Expert installation at no extra cost
- 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%**
Save Money on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are lots of ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, 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.
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