A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says the price of natural gas is expected to rise significantly 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 Going Up?
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 due to the fact the need 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 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 last year.
4 Secrets 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 things you can do to keep your heating costs down this winter. Here's how you can spend less 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 efficiency and it's less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Checking 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 protects you if a major component, such as 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 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 products
- 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 recommend 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 regulate 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 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 adjust accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that instantly set 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 has valuable rebates for adding 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 purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can pick up on 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 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:
- Choose window treatments that block heat loss, like 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 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 blocking 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 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 installing more ceiling insulation, since your home loses 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, find air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people sleep best in a cold 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 night. You may feel cold at first, but you'll likely be surprised how comfy you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can impact 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 operating and your pipes from freezing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting 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 follow the Department of Energy’s suggestion to set your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're away. Doing this while you're at work can save you up to 10% on heating bills every year.
4. Upgrade Your 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.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older models only achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. 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 cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering 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 proper 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 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 gets older, it consumes more energy. You'll see 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, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's wrong. Based on the severity of the problem, 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 making carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in large doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be taken out immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a shock that you're not completely prepared for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is changing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment needed.
For just one low monthly fee, you'll get:
- A new, high-efficiency furnace, as well as valuable manufacturer's rebates
- 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 visit
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with BW/Cook Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, call us at 574-218-6404 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.