If you heat your home with natural gas, you’re using one of the most efficient methods of heating your home. And you aren’t alone. Over 47% of American homes use natural gas as their primary heating source. But that’s not much help when you get that whopping winter natural gas bill.
Here are our top 9 tips to lower your heating bill and save money on heating costs. We’ll start out with the biggest way to save money on heating — controlling your winter thermostat setting.
What is the best temperature to keep my house at in the winter?
The easiest way to stay comfortable in the winter without costing yourself a fortune is to control your thermostat settings:
- When at home: 72° is a good start but aim for 68° as your winter set point. Your family won’t protest as much if you drop the temperature by one degree each week. That allows everyone to acclimate to the lower temperature.
- When away from home: There’s no point heating an empty house. You can drop it down to 55° to 58° when you leave the house.
- When asleep: When everyone is cuddled under the covers, set the temperature to 60°. Studies show it’s the best temperature for sleep.
According to Energy.gov, turning your thermostat back by 10° for the eight hours you are at work, and the eight hours you are asleep can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.
The best way to manage this? A programmable thermostat, preferably a wifi version that you can control remotely. A Nest learning thermostat is a good option, as is the ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control.
Top 9 Ways to Cut Your Natural Gas Winter Heating Bill
Once you have your thermostat under control, here are the 9 ways to save on winter natural gas heating costs for your home. Each of these ways to lower your heating bill can add up to real savings.
- Find the leaks. Perform a DIY Home Energy Audit at the start of the heating season. You’ll identify areas where cold air is leaking into your home, such as windows, doors, electrical outlets and plumbing. Use spray foam to reduce air leaks around utility cut-outs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”) under the sink. And make sure electrical outlets and wall plates on your outside walls are properly insulated.
- Check Your Gas Bill. If you are in a deregulated energy market and switched to an alternative supplier, check your bill to see if you are on a month to month variable rate. If you are, you should shop for a natural gas plan to lock in a low rate. If you’ve never shopped, check and see if you can save by switching to an alternative gas supplier.
- Seal Windows. During your DIY home audit, you’ll check your window seals. According to Energy.gov, heat lost through leaky windows accounts for 10 to 25 percent of your overall heating bill. One fast way to stop the air leak is to seal the window using commercially available clear plastic film and your hair dryer. (Note: for fire safety, don’t seal your bedroom windows.)
- Control humidity. Especially in colder climates, home humidity is an issue. Dry winter air pulls moisture from your skin, making you feel colder. Instead of reaching for the thermostat, use a humidifier to keep your home humidity between 30 and 50%. You’ll feel warmer with some humidity in the air.
- Don’t Use the Fireplace. As much as 80% of the heat produced in your fireplace goes right out the chimney. And as it leaves, cold air is being drawn indoors through leaks in your home’s exterior walls and windows. Consider investing in a natural-gas fired stove for your hearth instead. You’ll have the look of a fireplace, but a much more efficient heating result. Contact a licensed plumber to run any new natural gas piping you may need.
- Install an Attic Tent. An attic tent insulates the attic access door from the rest of the house. This will ensure that warm air isn’t escaping into your attic.
- Dress for the Weather. Feel cold? Put on a sweater instead of reaching for the thermostat. There’s no reason to heat up the whole house when you feel a chill. Keep your central core warm with a sweater, and wear slippers or socks around the house.
- Insulate Your Water Heater. An insulated natural gas water heater will operate more efficiently. This is especially important if your water heater is located in your garage, basement, or other non-insulated space. You can purchase a water heater blanket online or at most local hardware stores. Regular water heater maintenance can keep your water heater operating at peak efficiency.
- Use Space Heaters. A space heater can warm the room you’re in so you don’t have to heat the whole house. That’s especially important when you have central heating. Today’s modern space heaters are energy efficient and have automatic safety features to avoid over-heating.
Feel like your furnace is running too frequently? It’s worth it to call your HVAC professional to get a tune up. A new gas furnace can cost $650-$1400, plus installation. So it makes sense to keep the one you have running efficiently.
Your natural gas heating system uses gas as a heating source. However, in a central HVAC system, it also uses electricity for the blower that moves the hot air around your home. These energy-saving tips can reduce your reliance on your central heating. That should cut your electric bill as well as your natural gas bill.
Winter Heating Safety
With winter heating comes the need for winter heating safety. Be aware of these safety precautions around your home.
Carbon Monoxide Detector – With your home tightly sealed against drafts, you can run the risk of carbon monoxide build-up. Make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, in addition to fire and smoke detectors. You can find out more about carbon monoxide safety in our article on that topic.
Space Heaters – Space heaters account for 4 out of 5 heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If you have an older model, replace it with one that has an automatic shut-off. And keep any flammable materials outside a 3-foot radius of the heater. Lastly, never leave a child alone with a space heater.
Chimney Cleaning and Inspection – A chimney sweep (yes, like in Mary Poppins) can check the structure of your flue and chimney. They can also remove any combustibles, like creosote, a tar-like substance created when you burn wood. Your chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually, especially if you use your fireplace frequently.
With these tips, we hope you have a safe and warm winter heating season!
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