A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters reports the cost of natural gas is expected to rise dramatically 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?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive around the world, 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 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 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 Secrets 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. 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 proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring 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 problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, decreases the likelihood of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, most manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty protects you if a significant part, 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 overlook 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%**
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- No trip or overtime charges—ever
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- 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 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 anywhere 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 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 adapt 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 portion 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 handle making an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to set it for a few days so it can learn 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too cold, 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 seal out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to prevent air leaks. Consider getting energy-saving windows later on, like 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 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 stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- 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 leaks 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 cold 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. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might feel cold initially, but you'll likely be amazed 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 low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system running and your pipes from icing. 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 quicker. 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 turn 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 best 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 attain around 80%. Getting 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 over time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should start preparation for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the cost of a new system, we suggest getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it needs more energy. You'll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's wrong. Based on the severity 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 mean your furnace is using more gas and may even be generating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be taken out right away.
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- 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 More on Heating Costs with Golden Seal Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are lots of ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 630-246-2698 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.