A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says 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 Going Up?
Each 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 higher than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will affect 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, 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 Tips 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 things you can do to keep your heating costs down this winter. Here's how you can save on your gas heating bill.
1. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct 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 correct.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure 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 valid. This warranty shields you if a significant component, such as 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 forget about scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs created to make your life better while helping you save money.
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- 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 uses Wi-Fi, so you can regulate your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed in the morning, 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 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 adapt 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 likely offers 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 contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select 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 pick up on your temperature preferences. We suggest 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 chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill in check:
- Use 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 prevent air leaks. Consider getting 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 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 great at stopping 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 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 Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do best in a cool room. During the winter, that can vary 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 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 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 running and your pipes from freezing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you get back, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. It'll just increase your heating bill and cause wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can use the Department of Energy’s advice to set 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 each 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 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%. Getting 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 area weather and your temperature preferences, these cost savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs 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 breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being higher.
- Weird noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some noises, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness 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 mean your furnace is consuming more fuel and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in big doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be taken out right away.
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- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each appointment
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H2: Save More 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 get started, contact us at 407-329-7661 for an appointment and we'll take a look at 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.