How to Save on Home Heating Costs as Natural Gas Increases
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 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 Getting More Expensive?
Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) produces a winter fuel outlook. Energy costs have already gone up around the world, according to Reuters. This is because the need for energy is now higher than the available supply.
How Higher Natural Gas Prices Will Affect You
Higher natural gas prices will affect you as you turn 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 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 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 several steps you can take to you can do to keep your heating costs affordable 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 starts. You'll get more efficiency and it's cheaper than fixing your heating system later on in the year.
This service consists of:
- Testing and cleaning gas burners for correct operation.
- Examining the heat exchanger for cracks to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Monitoring warm air flow and blower operation to ensure peak performance.
- Examining the gas valve to make sure fuel supply pressure is right.
- Inspecting 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 chance of breakdowns and may even make your heating system last longer. Plus, many manufacturers require it to keep your valuable warranty valid. This warranty protects you if a significant component, 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
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- 100% guarantee on repairs for one year*
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
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 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 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 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 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 buy one.
3. Choose Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
Your smart thermostat will handle creating an efficient schedule that likely reduces 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 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 counterclockwise 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 keep 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 unrestricted. 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.
- Schedule 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 determine how much insulation you need to add, locate 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 experimenting with your thermostat for about a week to choose the right temperature. Begin with the temperature set at 67 degrees and lowering it by a degree every evening. You might feel cold initially, but you'll likely be amazed how comfy you can be at a cooler temperature. And how much it can affect 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 jack up your furnace when you get back, instead of setting it back to 68. This won't warm your home up faster. 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 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 every year.
4. Upgrade Your Furnace
Updating your outdated, 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. 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 achieve around 80%. Buying a new furnace that's 15% more efficient can lead to big savings on your heating bills over your furnace's life. 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 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 considering furnace installation:
- Age. Many furnaces last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance. If yours is close to this age, you should start preparation for replacement to avoid being without heat when your furnace goes out for good.
- Repair frequency and cost. If your furnace repair bills are greater than half the cost of a new system, we suggest buying a new one. This also applies if repairs are becoming more consistent.
- Reduced comfort and more expensive heating bills. As your furnace ages, it consumes more energy. You'll see this through your home being less comfortable and your heating bill being higher.
- Unusual noises. It's normal for your furnace to make some sound as it turns on and off. But some noises, especially rattling, banging or screeching, are an obvious sign that something's wrong. Based on the seriousness 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 suggest your furnace is using more gas and may even be producing carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in large doses. Furnaces seeping this deadly gas should be replaced immediately.
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- No trip or overtime charges—ever
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- 15% discount on air purification products
- Lifetime thermostat warranty
- Home Health™ Report Card and 29-point visual check on each visit
- Annual preventive maintenance and energy savings up to 30%**
Save Money on Heating Costs with Church Services
Although natural gas prices are on the rise, there are many ways to lower your heating bill with our Expert assistance. To begin, call us at 713-396-3760 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.