A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says 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?
Every 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 because the need for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How More Expensive Natural Gas Prices Will Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will impact you as you switch 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 the previous year.
4 Secrets for Saving on Heating Costs
In comparison 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 affordable 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 starts. You'll get greater efficiency and it's less expensive than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Inspecting the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to ensure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps manage 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 applicable. This warranty protects you if a major part, like the heat exchanger, breaks on your home's heating system during a certain period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to overlook 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 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
For the greatest peace of mind, there's Armor+™. This plan provides all the benefits of Maintenance+, in addition to:
- 100% parts and labor coverage for repairs*
- Air filter replacement
2. Get a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals advise updating 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 when you wake up, or just about anyplace in the world. You'll receive 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 adjust accordingly.
- Eco mode settings that automatically 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 offers 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 making an efficient schedule that potentially lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program it for a few days so it can learn 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 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, 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 upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, like 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 adding 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 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.
- Book an energy audit through your natural gas company. This service is often free and provides 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 sleep best in a cold room. During the winter, that can vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing your thermostat for about a week to find the ideal temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree every night. You may feel chilly initially, but you'll probably be amazed how comfy you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can affect 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 jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up quicker. It'll just drive up 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 turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees while you're away. Doing this while you're at work can save you up to 10% on heating bills each year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Updating your old, inefficient heating system is one of the best 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 result in major savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. 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 Begin Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other indications that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces run between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should start planning 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 buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Odd noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some sounds, particularly 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 buy a new furnace.
- Yellow burner flames. Your furnace's burner flames should always be blue. Yellow flames suggest your furnace is using more fuel and may even be generating carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in large doses. Furnaces leaking this hazardous gas should be replaced immediately.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a shock that you're not fully ready for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This worry-free subscription program is transforming 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 appointment
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save Money on Heating Costs with Abbey Air Home Services by Enercare
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 289-813-5566 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.