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 price of natural gas is anticipated to rise dramatically during the winter heating season. Find out why the price of natural gas is going up 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 already 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 affect you as you switch on your heating system and receive utility bills. Here's about how much it will impact 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 last year.
4 Tips for Saving on Heating Costs
In comparison 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 several steps you can take to you can do to keep your heating costs down this winter. Here's how you can save 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 less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining 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 make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced 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 applicable. This warranty protects you if a significant 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 overlook scheduling your furnace tune-ups. That's why we provide 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%**
- Guaranteed 24/7/365 priority service
- No trip or overtime costs—ever
- 15% discount on repairs and air purification solutions
- 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 advise 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 when you wake up, 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 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 adapt accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically set 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 installing 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 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 recommend 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 cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill under control:
- 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 prevent air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, such as 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 keep more hot air from your heating system.
- Add weather stripping on windows and doors. Weather stripping is very good at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are open. Shutting off 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing more ceiling insulation, since your home leaks 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 determine how much insulation you need to add, pinpoint air leaks and more.
While You're Asleep
The National Sleep Foundation says most people sleep 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 decreasing it by a degree every evening. You might feel cold initially, but you'll probably be surprised 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 set 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 get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't heat your home up faster. 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 set your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're away. Doing this while you're at the office can save you up to 10% on heating bills every year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating your old, inefficient heating system is one of the smartest ways to save on heating bills. A furnace's efficiency is calculated in AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. In other words, 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 result in big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. While your precise 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 cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin planning for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced 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.
- 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 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 using more gas and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in big doses. Furnaces leaking this deadly gas should be replaced immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you're not fully ready for. That's why we offer 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 required.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, plus valuable manufacturer's rebates
- 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 extra charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save More on Heating Costs with Jack Nelson Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 918-212-8927 for an appointment and we'll see 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.