A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, especially 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 previously gotten more expensive around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you switch 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 cheapest and most efficient way to heat your home. And there are several things you can do to keep your heating costs affordable this winter. Here's how you can spend less on your gas heating bill.
1. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get greater efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing 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 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 right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure 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 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 scheduling 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 receive 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 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 control 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 consuming.
The best smart thermostats for central heating have:
- Wi-Fi capabilities with an app to control 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 set the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that makes 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 portion or even the full cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that likely 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 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 chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling more comfortable 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 seal out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to stop air leaks. Consider upgrading to 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 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 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.
- 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 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 choose the right temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll likely be surprised how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can impact your heating bill!
While You're Gone
If you don't have any pets, you can turn down your thermostat as cool 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 return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't heat your home up quicker. It'll just drive up your heating bill and cause wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s advice to turn 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. Get a New Furnace
Replacing 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 old models only achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can result in big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. While your precise utility bill reductions 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 lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the cost 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.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some sounds, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness 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 consuming more gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in large doses. Furnaces seeping this dangerous gas should be taken out right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not completely ready for. That's why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
For only one reasonable monthly fee, you'll receive:
- 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 appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Gordon's Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 405-432-2197 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.