Ways to Save on Your Natural Gas Bill
Ways to Save on Your Natural Gas Bill
Typically, the bigger the heat load of your home, the more sense a gas furnace makes. This is why more homes use natural gas in the colder climate zones in the North than in the South. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average natural gas bill for an American household this winter is $644. How can you reduce your natural gas bill, especially during the cold winter season?
Easy Ways to Save on your Natural Gas Bill
There are quite a few low-cost tricks to cut down on your gas bill without having to spend a lot of money on new appliances or renovations.
The easiest way to lower your bill is to adjust the temperature on your thermostat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), you can save up to 3% on your heating bill for each degree you lower your thermostat.
To save energy the Department of Energy recommends a temperature of 68°F in the winter while you’re at home. You can further adjust the temperature at night and when you’re not at home.
According to the DoE, lowering your thermostat by 7 to 10°F saves as much as 10% on your annual heating bills. Every degree makes a difference. As a benefit, you’ll sleep better in a cooler room at night, maybe with a warm comforter on your bed.
When the heat is on (or the AC in the summer), keep your doors and windows shut, so the heat (or cooled air) can’t escape. Heat also escapes through ventilation fans such as your kitchen hood or your bathroom ventilation. Turn them off unless you need them; this will also help you save a few kilowatt-hours on your electric bill.
Don’t heat any rooms that you don’t use. Keep the doors to unused rooms shut and close the vents. If you don’t use the rooms for a longer period, seal off the vents to force the heat to the other living spaces in your home. If you have additional thermostats in unused rooms, turn them down to the minimum setting.
Improve the Efficiency of Your Appliances
Install a programmable thermostat. They cost between $30 and $270 and will help save that amount of money in a short time if put to use effectively. With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust your temperature on a predetermined schedule. It’ll turn down the heat automatically while you’re out at work and when you go to bed. If it has Wi-Fi capability, you can even adjust the temperature remotely, after you have left the house and before you arrive at home.
Inspect your furnace and vents. Your natural gas furnace works best and most efficiently when it is clean and unblocked. Keep the area around your furnace and the air vents in your home free from obstacles such as furniture, appliances, or rugs. Check your furnace filter and make sure it’s clean; replace it according to the product specifications or when it gets dirty.
A big opportunity for savings is your water heater. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to 120°F or keep it at the “warm setting”. This is a comfortable temperature that can save about 7 to 10% of your heating cost. To increase the efficiency of your water heater even more, insulate the hot water pipes leaving the water heater. This will also shorten the waiting time for warm water in your showers and sinks.
Using a dishwasher requires less hot water than washing dishes by hand. To save time and energy, wait until you have a full load before you turn it on. The same is true for your washing machine. Wait until you have a full load and use cold water whenever possible. Unless your laundry is extremely dirty, it’ll get just as clean with cold or warm water.
Have your heating system checked by licensed contractor every other year. Proper maintenance helps your heating unit run more efficiently. If you detect a leak in your system, call for repairs immediately.
Renovate and Upgrade Your Home
Start with a small project to weatherize your house. New weatherstripping is cheap and easy to install. Seal off any gaps or holes in your outside walls and doors.
When your heating system needs to be replaced, install an Energy Star rated model. They use about 15% less energy than standard models. Do the same with your water heater.
If you’re thinking about renovating your home, add extra insulation in accordance with the DoE recommendations for your climate zone and replace your old windows with Energy Star certified windows. They lower your energy bills by an average of 12%.
Change Your Habits
Take advantage of natural heat from the sun and other heat sources in the home. Open up the blinds and curtains on your south-facing windows when the sun is shining, and turn down the thermostat while you’re cooking or baking. On the other side, keep the curtains closed if there’s no sun, especially during the night. This helps keep the heat inside.
Consider turning down the heat a few degrees when you’re at home. Put on an extra layer of clothes and some extra socks to keep warm. When you take a shower, keep them short. In average, Americans use 2.1 gallons of heated water per minute while showering, which the water heater needs to replace after your shower.
Compare Natural Gas Rates From Other Suppliers
If you live in a deregulated state and you’re still purchasing gas from your local utility, shop around for better gas rates. Keep in mind that some suppliers have high basic service charges, which you need to pay every month, even if you are not using any gas in the summer. Some rates may be higher in the winter so don’t just use an annual average rate when you compare them to your current utility or gas supplier.
One example of a good home utility company is Xoom. See if they’re in your area and how their natural gas prices compare with other - check them out here!