A natural gas furnace is the most efficient 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 significantly 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 Getting More Expensive?
Each 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 demand for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will affect you as you switch on your heating system and get utility bills. Here's about how much it will affect 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
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 several things 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
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get more efficiency and it's less expensive than repairing 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 prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working right.
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, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty protects you if a major component, like 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 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 enjoy regular preventive maintenance plus:
- Energy savings up to 30%**
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- No trip or overtime costs—ever
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- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every 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 connects to 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 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 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 probably has 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 buy one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating 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 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 maximum energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling more comfortable 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 day to let in natural heat from the sun. Keep your windows covered at night to keep 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 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 very good at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. 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 more ceiling insulation, since your home loses a lot of hot air through the attic.
- Schedule an energy audit through your natural gas company. This service is usually free and provides valuable advice on how to save money and lower your heating bill. It may help you determine how much insulation you need to add, find air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people sleep 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 each night. You may feel chilly initially, but you'll likely be surprised how comfy 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 freezing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't heat your home up quicker. It'll just increase your heating bill and cause wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can use 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 each year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating 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 older models only achieve around 80%. Getting a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. 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 Begin Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the price of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Unusual noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, specifically 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 get a new furnace.
- Yellow burner flames. Your furnace's burner flames should always be blue. Yellow flames mean your furnace is using more gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be taken out right away.
We understand that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you're not completely ready for. That's why we offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment needed.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, plus valuable manufacturer's rebates
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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 appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Peitz Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, call us at 605-223-0307 for an appointment and we'll take a look at 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.