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 price 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?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact 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, as compared 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
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 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. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Request furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid 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 damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure 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, most manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty shields you if a significant component, 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 forget about 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 receive regular preventive maintenance plus:
- Energy savings up to 30%**
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- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each 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 when you wake up, 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 manage 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 adjust accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically 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 has 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 contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select 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 more comfortable and your heating bill in check:
- 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 seal 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 gathers 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 great at preventing cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are open. 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding more ceiling insulation, since your home leaks a lot of hot air through the attic.
- Schedule an energy audit through your natural gas company. This service is usually 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 vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to choose the ideal temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree each evening. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll probably be surprised how comfortable you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can affect your heating bill!
While You're Away
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 jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. It'll just increase your heating bill and cause 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 each year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your outdated, 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.
Modern furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older 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 area 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 Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should start preparation for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the price of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive 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 higher.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, 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 suggest your furnace is using more fuel and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in large doses. Furnaces leaking this life-threatening gas should be replaced 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 every visit
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 352-414-4006 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.