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 expected 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?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact the need 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 receive 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 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 a few 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 begins. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing 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 ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for problems.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control 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 protects you if a major part, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home's heating system during a certain period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to forget about scheduling 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 enjoy 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 products
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
For the greatest comfort, there's Armor+™. This plan offers all the benefits of Maintenance+, in addition to:
- 100% parts and labor coverage for repairs*
- Air filter replacement
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 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 capabilities with an app to control 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 instantly adjust 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 complete cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of creating an efficient schedule that likely reduces 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 maximum energy savings. If this feels too chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill in check:
- 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 seal 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 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 great at blocking cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding additional 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 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, 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 find the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every night. You might feel chilly at first, but you'll probably be amazed how comfortable you can be at a cooler 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 operating and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. 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 recommendation 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 smartest 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%. Buying 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 over time through a cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should begin preparation for replacement to prevent being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the cost 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 ages, it uses more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Odd 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 awry. 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 suggest your furnace is consuming more gas and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in large doses. Furnaces seeping this dangerous gas should be taken out 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 stress-free subscription program is changing home comfort by covering 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 charge
- 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%**
H2: Save Money on Heating Costs with Bob Brown 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, call us at 623-243-4517 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.