A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters reports the price 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 Getting More Expensive?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is because the need for energy is now greater 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, as compared 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
Compared to other fuel sources, a natural gas heating system is still the cheapest 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 spend less on your gas heating bill.
1. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule 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 includes:
- Evaluating 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.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Checking electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control energy use, decreases the chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty shields you if a major component, like 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 booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer 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%**
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- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each 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 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 capability 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 adapt accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that instantly adjust the thermostat to save you more money.
- Smart programming that creates an energy-efficient heating schedule 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 check with your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of making an efficient schedule that potentially reduces your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can learn 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 maximum 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, 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 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 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 preventing 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 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 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, pinpoint 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 vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree every night. You may feel chilly at first, but you'll probably be surprised how comfy you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Gone
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 jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't heat your home up quicker. It'll just drive up your heating bill and result in wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can follow the Department of Energy’s suggestion to set 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 every year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your old, 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.
Newer furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while old models only achieve around 80%. Getting 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 cost savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate 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 buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it needs more energy. You'll see 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 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 suggest your furnace is consuming more gas and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in large doses. Furnaces leaking this deadly gas should be taken out immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not fully prepared for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This worry-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by including everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment needed.
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- 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 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 Rolf Griffin Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, contact us at 260-557-1275 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.