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 cost 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?
Each 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 need for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you turn 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, 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 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 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. 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 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 make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control energy use, reduces the chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty protects you if a major component, like the heat exchanger, fails 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 provide membership programs designed 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 solutions
- 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 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 adjust the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that creates 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 part or even the complete cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of creating 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 recommend 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill in check:
- 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 keep out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to stop air leaks. Consider getting 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 putting 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 stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- 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 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 identify how much insulation you need to add, find air leaks and more.
While You're Asleep
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 testing your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree every evening. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll likely be amazed 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 turn down your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from freezing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. It'll just drive up your heating bill and result in wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can use the Department of Energy’s suggestion 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 every year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating 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. 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 lead to big 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 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 begin considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should start preparation for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the price of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Odd noises. It's normal 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 awry. Based on the seriousness of the issue, it may just be better to get a new furnace.
- Yellow burner flames. Your furnace's burner flames should always be blue. Yellow flames mean your furnace is consuming more gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in big doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be replaced right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not completely prepared 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 big up-front cost or down payment necessary.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, plus 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 extra charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save Money on Heating Costs with Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 226-773-3357 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.