A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the cost of natural gas is anticipated to rise significantly 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 Going Up?
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 greater 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
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 steps you can take to you can do to keep your heating costs affordable this winter. Here's how you can save on your gas heating bill.
1. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule 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.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps manage 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 shields you if a significant part, 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 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%**
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- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
2. Install 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 anywhere in the world. You'll get real-time updates on how much energy you're consuming.
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 automatically adjust 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 offers 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 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 reduces 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 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 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 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 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 blocking 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 impact 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 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 cool 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. 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 likely be amazed how comfortable you can be at a lower 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 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 warm 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 recommendation 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. Upgrade Your Furnace
Replacing your outdated, inefficient heating system is one of the smartest 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 old models only attain around 80%. Getting a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to major 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 in 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 considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with proper 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 greater than half the price of a new system, we suggest getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being higher.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise 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 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 producing carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in big doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be taken out immediately.
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- Guaranteed 24/7/365 priority service
- No trip or overtime charges—ever
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- 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 Freschi Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 925-384-1303 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.