A natural gas furnace is the most cost-effective way to heat your home, particularly if you live in a cool climate. However, Reuters says the price of natural gas is expected to rise significantly 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 Getting More Expensive?
Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gotten more expensive globally, according to Reuters. This is because the demand for energy is now greater than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Impact You
Higher natural gas prices will affect 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 last year.
4 Secrets 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 a few 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. Request a Furnace Tune-Up
Schedule furnace maintenance from an HVAC professional before the heating season begins. You'll get greater efficiency and it's cheaper than repairing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Evaluating and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
- Tracking warm air flow and blower operation to guarantee peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Checking electrical parts for damage.
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it’s working correctly.
Having your HVAC system maintained each year helps control 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 shields 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 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 solutions
- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
For the greatest comfort, there's Armor+™. This plan offers 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 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 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 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 likely has valuable rebates for adding a smart thermostat, since they're ENERGY STAR® qualified. These rebates may cover a part or even the complete cost of the thermostat, so contact your natural gas supplier before you purchase one.
3. Select Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will take care of creating an efficient schedule that likely lowers 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 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 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 upgrading to energy-saving windows in the future, such as 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 great at preventing cold air drafts and keeping warm air where it belongs.
- Make sure heating vents are open. 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 affects how heating systems distribute warm air.
- Consider installing additional 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 usually 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, find air leaks and more.
While You're Sleeping
The National Sleep Foundation says most people do best in a cold room. During the winter, that can range from 60-67 degrees, depending on your personal preferences.
Try testing your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and decreasing it by a degree every night. You might feel chilly initially, but you'll likely be amazed 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 turn down your thermostat as low as 50 degrees. This keeps your heating system operating and your pipes from icing. But don't be tempted to crank 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 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 away. Doing this while you're at work can save you up to 10% on heating bills every year.
4. Get a New Furnace
Replacing your outdated, 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 big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's lifetime. While your precise utility bill savings will vary based on area 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 Considering Furnace Installation
Here are a few other signals that it's time to begin thinking about furnace installation:
- Age. Most furnaces run between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is near this age, you should begin 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 buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more frequent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it uses more energy. You'll notice this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being more expensive.
- Weird 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 awry. Based on the seriousness 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 gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in large doses. Furnaces seeping this hazardous gas should be taken out right away.
We realize that furnace replacement is a major 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 worry-free subscription program is revolutionizing home comfort by covering everything, with no large up-front cost or down payment required.
For just one reasonable monthly fee, you'll get:
- 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 appointment
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
H2: Save Money on Heating Costs with D&K Home Services by Enercare
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are countless ways to reduce your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To get started, call us at 613-707-2421 for an appointment and we'll take a look at 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.