A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, especially if you live in a cold climate. However, Reuters reports the price of natural gas is expected 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?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases 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 Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will affect 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 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 Secrets 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 a few 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 cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service includes:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Checking the heat exchanger for cracks to avoid deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Inspecting 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 chance 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, such as the heat exchanger, fails on your home's heating system during a certain period.
We know you're busy and that it's easy to forget about 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 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 products
- 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 regulate your HVAC system from your smartphone or tablet from bed in the morning, or just about anywhere 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 capability 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 creates an energy-efficient heating routine 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 check with your natural gas supplier before you buy one.
3. Select 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 pick up on 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 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 daytime 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 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 retain more hot air from your heating system.
- Add weather stripping on windows and doors. Weather stripping is great at preventing 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 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 extra 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 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 vary from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing 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 chilly initially, but you'll probably be surprised how comfy you can be at a lower temperature. And how much it can impact 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 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 warm your home up faster. It'll just drive up 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 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 measured 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 lifetime. While your exact utility bill reductions will vary based on area weather and your temperature preferences, these cost savings could help your primary heating source pay for itself in time through a lower natural gas bill.
When to Start Thinking about Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signs that it's time to begin considering furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces last between 15-20 years with adequate maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin 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 cost of a new system, we recommend buying a new one. This also is applicable if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Decreased comfort and pricey heating bills. As your furnace gets older, it needs more energy. You'll see this through your home being less cozy and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some noise as it turns on and off. But some sounds, specifically rattling, banging or screeching, are a clear sign that something's wrong. 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 fuel and may even be making carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous in big doses. Furnaces seeping this life-threatening gas should be replaced right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major investment. It can also be a surprise that you're not completely ready for. That's why we have the Service Experts Advantage Program™. This stress-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no big up-front cost or down payment needed.
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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 every appointment
- Regular preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save Money on Heating Costs with Midway Services
Although natural gas prices are going up, there are countless ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, call us at 727-219-2471 for an appointment and we'll see 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.