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 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) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have previously gotten more expensive around the world, according to Reuters. This is due to the fact the demand 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 receive utility bills. Here's about how much it will affect the average household during the six-month winter heating season, as compared to last year.
- 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 most affordable 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. Request 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 repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for proper operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to ensure fuel supply pressure is correct.
- Inspecting electrical parts for damage.
- Taking a look at your thermostat to ensure it’s working right.
Having your HVAC system serviced each year helps manage 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 component, like 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 scheduling 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
For the greatest comfort, 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. Install a Smart Thermostat
HVAC professionals recommend 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 using.
The best smart thermostats for central heating have:
- Wi-Fi capability with an app to manage 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 instantly set 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 has 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 buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of making an efficient schedule that likely lowers 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 the greatest energy savings. If this feels too cold, these ways to save can help keep your home feeling warmer and your heating bill under control:
- 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 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 stop air leaks. Consider upgrading to energy-saving windows later on, 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 putting 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 very good at stopping cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it should be.
- Make sure heating vents are open. 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider adding 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 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, locate 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 range from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to choose the ideal 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 comfy 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 set your thermostat as cool 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 setting 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 use the Department of Energy’s recommendation to set 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 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. In other words, this rating measures how efficiently your furnace uses fuel for heat.
Modern furnaces have an average AFUE of 95%, while older models only attain around 80%. Getting 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 reductions will vary based on area weather and your temperature preferences, these savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a cheaper natural gas bill.
When to Start Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last 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 goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and price. If your furnace repair bills are more than half the cost of a new system, we recommend getting a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being higher.
- Weird noises. It's typical for your furnace to make some sound 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 buy a new furnace.
- Yellow burner flames. Your furnace's burner flames should always be blue. Yellow flames mean your furnace is consuming more fuel and may even be creating carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in large doses. Furnaces leaking this dangerous gas should be taken out immediately.
We understand that furnace replacement is a big investment. It can also be a shock that you're not completely prepared for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This hassle-free subscription program is transforming home comfort by including everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment necessary.
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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
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save Money on Heating Costs with Boehmers/Cronin Emery Home Services by Enercare
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are many ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 519-804-1617 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.