How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Goes Up
A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters reports the price of natural gas is expected to rise dramatically during the winter heating season. Learn why the price of natural gas is getting more expensive 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 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 impact you as you turn on your heating system and get utility bills. Here’s about how much it will impact 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets for Saving on Heating Costs
Compared 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 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 less expensive than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps manage energy use, reduces 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 part, such as 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 overlook 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 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 recommend replacing your programmable thermostat with one that’s “smart” to save money on your energy bill. This means it uses 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 capability with an app to control 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 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 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 contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you’ll need to set it for a few days so it can pick up on 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 cold, 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, such 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 upgrading to energy-saving windows later on, 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 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 blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. Closing 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing additional ceiling insulation, since your home loses a lot of hot air through the attic.
- Schedule 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 identify how much insulation you need to add, locate air leaks and more.
While You’re Asleep
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do 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 ideal temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You may feel chilly 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 turn down your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating and your pipes from icing. But don’t be tempted to crank up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won’t heat 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 advice to turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you’re gone. 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 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.
Modern furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older models only achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that’s 15% more efficient can result in major savings on your heating bills over your furnace’s lifetime. While your exact utility bill reductions will vary based on local weather and your temperature preferences, these savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Begin Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it’s time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin 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 more than half the cost of a new system, we suggest getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, 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 normal for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some sounds, particularly rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something’s awry. 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 generating carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in big doses. Furnaces seeping this deadly gas should be taken out right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you’re not completely prepared for. That’s why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is transforming home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment needed.
For only one low monthly fee, you’ll receive:
- A new, high-efficiency furnace, as well as 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 added 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 866-397-3787 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.
How to Choose a Suitable HVAC System
When it comes to keeping your home comfortable all year, nothing is more critical than choosing the right heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This choice influences your daily comfort, monthly utility costs and general home efficiency. But, with so many system types, sizes and... Continue reading
Year-End HVAC Maintenance Checklist
Now that the air starts to get cold, you know it’s time to winterize your residence for the cooler months ahead. Your heating system is crucial to maintaining a cozy, warm setting. A well-maintained furnace delivers the comfort you desire while using less energy. Scheduled inspections also make... Continue reading
HVAC Trends: What’s New in 2024
In the continuously changing world of home HVAC, keeping up with the latest HVAC trends is imperative for homeowners seeking to enhance their home’s comfort and efficiency. Looking into 2024, the HVAC industry continues to innovate, bringing new technologies and trends that promise to transform... Continue reading