A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise dramatically 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) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact the demand for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How More Expensive 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 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 last year.
4 Tips 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. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. 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 proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty applicable. This warranty protects you if a major part, 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 overlook scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer 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 advise 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 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 adapt accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that instantly set 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 portion or even the full cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that potentially reduces 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 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 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 later on, 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 keep 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 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding 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 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 cool 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 ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree every night. You may feel cold at first, but you'll likely be amazed how comfortable 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 crank up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm 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 follow the Department of Energy’s advice 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
Updating your old, 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. In other words, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while old 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 signs that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin planning 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 cost of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy 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, particularly rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the severity 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 fuel and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in large doses. Furnaces leaking this deadly gas should be taken out immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not fully 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 reasonable monthly fee, you'll get:
- 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 extra charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save Money on Heating Costs with Orangutan Home Services
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 602-906-0111 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.