A natural gas furnace is the most efficient way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters says the price of natural gas is anticipated to rise dramatically 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?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact the demand for energy is now higher 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, as compared 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 steps you can take to you can do to keep your heating costs down this winter. Here's how you can spend less on your gas heating bill.
1. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up
Request 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 includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking 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.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system maintained 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 significant 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 forget about booking your furnace tune-ups. That's why we offer membership programs designed 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
2. Install 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 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 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 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 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 contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle making an efficient schedule that likely lowers your heating bill, but you'll need to program 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 under control:
- 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 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, such as double pane with insulating gas or triple pane.
- Set ceiling fans to reverse 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 retain 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 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 impacts how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing more ceiling insulation, since your home leaks 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 determine 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 each night. You might feel cold at first, but you'll likely be amazed how comfy you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can impact 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 running and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to crank up your furnace when you return, instead of switching it back to 68. This won't warm your home up quicker. 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 suggestion 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. Get a New 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. In other words, 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 lifetime. While your precise 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 cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Begin Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to start thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last 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 more than half the price of a new system, we suggest getting a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it needs more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being higher.
- Unusual noises. It's normal 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 wrong. Based on the severity of the problem, 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 fuel and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in big doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be replaced right away.
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 offer the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This worry-free subscription program is transforming home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
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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 added 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 McKinley Heating Service Experts
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are lots of ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, contact us at 780-800-7092 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.