Natural gas furnaces are an efficient way to provide fast and evenly distributed heat for your entire home. If you live in a cold northern climate, it’s one of the most effective heating systems in the industry. But because these furnaces rely on natural gas for fuel, their cost efficiency can change as gas prices fluctuate.
According to the Associated Press, winter heating bills are expected to rise as natural gas prices go up. We’ll take a closer look at why heating costs are on the rise, and how you can take steps to keep your home’s heating system energy efficient.
Why Have Natural Gas Prices Gone Up?
While heating costs usually go up as the weather cools down, this winter’s energy bills are expected to be higher than usual. This is because of different factors including:
- Winter temperatures in the U.S. are expected to be colder than normal. This is common during La Niña climate patterns, namely for the Northeast and Midwest.
- Global inflation rates are going up. As the economy steadily winds back up, stumbling supply chains are placed under even more strain. This pushes up prices at an increased pace.
Did you know that almost half of U.S. homes count on natural gas for their central heating? With so many homeowners facing higher heating bills, an energy-efficient HVAC system is more important than ever.
Maximize Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Your home’s energy efficiency is largely influenced by your HVAC system, since heating and cooling accounts for about half your monthly energy costs. Investing in a quality gas furnace goes a long way, but there are other options for improving your home’s energy efficiency. To keep heating costs more manageable this year, try these cost-cutting tips.
1. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are a type of programmable thermostat with features designed to help your HVAC system run more efficiently. With Wi-Fi connectivity, you can alter the temperature from anywhere in the house. In fact, many smart thermostats can be remotely controlled from your smart phone or tablet! You won’t have to worry about wasted energy if you forgot to adjust the thermostat before leaving for work or vacation.
Smart thermostats monitor how you use your HVAC system and will apply that information to optimize your preferred daily heating and cooling schedule. For example, if you prefer a warm bedroom when you wake up, a smart thermostat can automatically turn up the heat every morning.
To encourage more homeowners to install smart thermostats, many energy companies offer high value rebates to recoup installation costs. Depending on the model you’re considering, this rebate can cover most or all the costs of installation. And since all smart thermostats are ENERGY STAR® qualified, you know you’re getting your money’s worth in energy efficiency.
2. Ensure Your Home has Adequate Insulation
You may be surprised to find out that your home likely doesn’t have adequate insulation. It’s places like the attic and between the walls where most of your home’s heat loss occurs. When you install more insulation, you’ll retain more heat.
Another way to improve insulation is by choosing the right window treatments. Small cracks or flaws can cause drafts, but putting up honeycomb shades or plantation shutters can help windows lock heat in.
Keep Up with Routine Furnace Maintenance
Just one yearly checkup can help verify your furnace is providing maximum energy efficiency for your home. When performed by a professional technician, a routine furnace maintenance visit should include:
- A thorough inspection of your furnace’s exterior and internal machinery.
- Deep cleaning of any components that have accumulated dirt or grime.
- Adjustment and relubrication of delicate or moving parts.
- Cleaning or replacement of your furnace’s air filter.
- Checking HVAC accessories like your ductwork and thermostat for signs of trouble.
The main benefit of professional furnace maintenance is the chance for an expert technician to catch problems before they grow worse. Even minor issues can reduce the energy efficiency of your furnace, which can add up over long-term heating costs.
A quality maintenance program from trusted service companies like Three Rivers Heating & Cooling can help your furnace run more effectively. In a few cases, it can even help equipment remain in working shape for a few years longer.
Schedule a Professional Energy Audit
If there are more ways your home could be more energy efficient, a professional energy audit will be able to find them. Audits are often offered through your natural gas company. They’ll dispatch someone to your home to check your insulation, locate any air leaks and many other useful tasks. They may suggest things like resealing your ductwork or installing weather stripping on your windows and doors.
Consider Replacing Your Furnace with a High-Efficiency Model
Sometimes the only way to bolster your furnace’s energy efficiency is by replacing it with a new, more efficient model. An easy way to determine your furnace’s energy efficiency is by finding the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. These ratings measure how effectively a furnace converts its fuel source into useable heat.
A furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% will lose 20% of fuel to heat loss and minor inefficiencies. Luckily, you can find high-efficiency models with AFUE ratings as high as 99%! These ENERGY STAR®-rated gas furnaces deliver some of the most energy-efficient heating in the industry.
You should consider new furnace installation when the old model is about 15 years or older. Quality maintenance can help extend its life span, but every furnace reaches a point where replacement is more cost effective than performing repairs.
Three Rivers Heating & Cooling Works with You to Keep Heating Costs Low
Higher natural gas prices shouldn’t leave you unable to warm your home this winter. Three Rivers Heating & Cooling and our comfort experts will help you find new opportunities to keep costs down. Not only will this help you last through higher fuel costs, but improved energy efficiency will benefit you for the entire life span of your HVAC system.
To schedule an appointment, give us a call today at 503-213-4433.