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 cost 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 already gotten more expensive globally, 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 Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you turn 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 the previous year.
4 Tips 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 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
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at 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, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty shields you if a major 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 overlook booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs created to make your life better 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 charges—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 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 anyplace 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 capabilities 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 creates 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 part 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 take care of creating an efficient schedule that potentially lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to set it for a few days so it can learn your temperature preferences. We recommend 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 chilly, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling more comfortable and your heating bill in check:
- Use 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 reverse so they can disperse warm air that collects 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 preventing cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding more 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 often 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, pinpoint 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 range 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 lowering it by a degree every evening. You may feel cold initially, but you'll probably be amazed how comfy you can be at a cooler 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 operating 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 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 every year.
4. Get a New 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. 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 attain around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. While your exact utility bill savings 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 cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run 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 greater than half the cost of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it needs more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some sounds, particularly rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's awry. 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 mean your furnace is using more gas and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be replaced right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a shock that you're not completely ready for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This worry-free subscription program is changing home comfort by including everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment needed.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, as well as 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 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%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Rob's Albertan Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 780-800-9047 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.