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 expected to rise dramatically during the winter heating season. Find out 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 previously gotten more expensive around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How More Expensive 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 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 Tips for Saving on Heating Costs
Compared 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 down 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 begins. You'll get more efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, reduces the chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, most manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty applicable. This warranty shields you if a significant component, 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 overlook scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs created to make your life better while helping you save money.
With our best-value Maintenance+™, you'll receive 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 every visit
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- 100% parts and labor coverage for repairs*
- Air filter replacement
2. Install a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals advise 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 get real-time updates on how much energy you're consuming.
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 adapt accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically adjust the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that makes an energy-efficient heating schedule 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 portion 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 handle making 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 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 chilly, 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 stop 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 collects 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 stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding 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 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, find 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 testing 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 cold initially, but you'll probably be amazed 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 set your thermostat as cool as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you get back, 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 use the Department of Energy’s recommendation 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 each year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Replacing your outdated, 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. Simply put, 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%. Getting a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. 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 signs that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near 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 greater than half the price of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it uses more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness of the issue, 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 making carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in big doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be replaced immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not fully ready for. That's why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by including everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
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- 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 every visit
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Comfortech Service Experts
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 601-852-3105 for an appointment and we'll take a look at 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.