A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters reports the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly during the winter heating season. Learn why the price of natural gas is going up 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 already gotten more expensive around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How More Expensive 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 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 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 down this winter. Here's how you can spend less 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 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 correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained 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 valid. This warranty shields 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 booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer 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 products
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every 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 get 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 manage 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 set the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that creates an energy-efficient heating routine based on your temperature preferences.
Your energy company probably has 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 check with your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of making 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 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 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 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 stop 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 reverse so they can disperse warm air that collects near the ceiling.
- Have an HVAC professional seal heating ducts. This is often done through putting 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 belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. 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 additional 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, pinpoint 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 experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to find the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll probably be amazed how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Gone
If you don't have any pets, you can turn down 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 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 use 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. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your old, 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. 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 attain 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 cheaper 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. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should start preparation for replacement to avoid 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 suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some sounds, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's awry. 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 suggest your furnace is consuming more fuel and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this deadly gas should be taken out immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major 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 stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
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- 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 every appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Stark Services
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are lots of ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 817-668-6689 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.