How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Goes Up
A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly 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 Getting More Expensive?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will affect you as you turn 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 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
Compared 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 things you can do to keep your heating costs down this winter. Here's how you can save on your gas heating bill.
1. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get greater efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps manage 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 applicable. This warranty protects you if a significant part, 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 booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs designed to make your life easier while helping you save money.
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- Energy savings up to 30%**
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- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
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 uses 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 receive 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 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 schedule based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company likely offers valuable rebates for installing a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a portion or even the full cost of the thermostat, so contact your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of making an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can learn 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 maximum 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 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 upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, 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 retain more hot air from your heating system.
- Add weather stripping on windows and doors. Weather stripping is great at blocking 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 adding extra 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 determine how much insulation you need to add, locate 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 range 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 each evening. You may 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 cool as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running 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 result in wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s recommendation to set your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're away. Doing this while you're at the office 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 calculated 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 attain around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in major 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 lower natural gas bill.
When to Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last 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 goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the cost of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Unusual noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some sounds, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the severity 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 suggest your furnace is consuming more gas and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this hazardous gas should be replaced immediately.
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- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
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Save Money on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 303-647-5749 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.