How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Goes Up
A natural gas furnace is the most efficient 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 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?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already 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 get utility bills. Here’s about how much it will affect 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets 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. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You’ll get more than repairing 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 avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control energy use, reduces the likelihood 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 major part, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home’s heating system during a certain period.
We know you’re busy and that it’s easy to overlook scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That’s why we provide membership programs created 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 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
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 uses Wi-Fi, so you can regulate your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed when you wake up, 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 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 instantly adjust 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 contact your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle making an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you’ll need to set it for a few days so it can learn your temperature preferences. We suggest 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 chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer 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 upgrading to 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 retain 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 open. 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 more ceiling insulation, since your home leaks 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 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 find the ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You may feel chilly at first, but you’ll probably be surprised how comfortable you can be at a lower 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 crank up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won’t warm 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 follow 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 every year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating your outdated, 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. Simply put, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Modern furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older 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 exact utility bill savings will vary based on local 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 Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it’s time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin 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 greater than half the cost of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You’ll see this through your home being less comfortable 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 sounds, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear 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 suggest your furnace is using more fuel and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in large doses. Furnaces leaking this hazardous gas should be replaced immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a shock that you’re not completely ready for. That’s why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is changing home comfort by including everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment necessary.
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 added charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each appointment
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 866-397-3787 for an appointment and we’ll see 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.
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