A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, particularly 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 going up and how to save on gas heating bills this year.
Why Is Natural Gas Getting More Expensive?
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 need for energy is now higher 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 last 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 things you can do to keep your heating costs affordable this winter. Here's how you can spend less on your gas heating bill.
1. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get more efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps control energy use, reduces the chance 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 specific 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 better 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 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 connects to Wi-Fi, so you can control your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed when you wake up, 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 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 adjust 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 probably offers valuable rebates for adding a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a portion or even the full cost of the thermostat, so check with your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of 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 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 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:
- 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 keep out cold air.
- Cover drafty windows with plastic sheeting to prevent air leaks. Consider getting energy-saving windows in the future, like 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 great at stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are unrestricted. Shutting off vents in rooms you don't use is a bad idea since it can affect 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 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, locate air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people sleep 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 choose the right temperature. Start with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree each evening. You might feel chilly initially, but you'll likely be surprised how comfortable you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can impact your heating bill!
While You're Gone
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 icing. But don't be tempted to jack up your furnace when you return, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. It'll just increase your heating bill and result in wear and tear on your furnace.
If you have pets, you can use the Department of Energy’s advice to turn 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 measured 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 lead to big 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 savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself over time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should start planning for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace breaks down for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. 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 consistent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it consumes more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being higher.
- Weird noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some noises, especially 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 suggest your furnace is using more gas and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in big doses. Furnaces seeping this dangerous gas should be replaced immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not fully ready for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is changing home comfort by including everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
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- A new, high-efficiency furnace, as well as 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 added charge*
- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on every visit
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save More on Heating Costs with Broad Ripple Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are many ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 317-527-0271 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.