In 2017, 132,290,211 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas consumption was noted. On average, 17,527 cubic feet of natural gas per capita is consumed by the world every year. It can be easily transported via ships and tankers and burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel. Natural gas provides heat for cooking, fuels various industries to produce several goods, and generates electricity.
72% of Americans rely on natural gas as their primary heating source. However, an average American household now 40% less natural gas than it did 40 years ago. No one likes starting off their day with an enormous gas bill. If you are getting a high gas bill, both in summers and winters, maybe it’s time for you to review your energy use. From poor insulation to air leaks, there are several reasons behind high utility bills.
So, Before discussing ways of saving money on natural gas, let’s discuss why you are getting a high gas bill every month.
Reasons why your gas bill is high
Aging, less-sufficient appliances
Old equipment and appliances require proper maintenance, or else they lose energy efficiency over the years. There’s a chance that the boiler or water heating system you have is losing more energy more producing. In that case, you will either have to get them repaired or replace them.
Size and setting of water heater
If you are getting surprisingly high bills, the possible reasons could be the size and settings of your water heater.
Having a water heater that is too large or small for your space results in high utility bills. If you are sharing space with someone, a 30-gallon water tank will be enough for you. A family of four should consider buying a 4-gallon water tank, while a 50-gallon water tank will be enough for a family of 5.
Some people keep their water heaters at 150 degrees. However, water that hot can cause third-degree burns and increase the high energy cost. Sometimes. the age of the water heater is the main culprit. Most water heaters last for 10 to 15 years. If your water heater is set at 120 degrees and you are still experiencing poor water quality, extremely cold water, inconsistent temperature, and leakage, it might be time to replace it.
Experts generally recommend replacing water heaters every 10 years.
The demand for gas increases in the coldest months. However, there are various winter habits that cause high gas bills.
As we discussed earlier, leaving the doors open during the winter can result in loss of heat. The furnace works overtime, especially at the start of winter when the cold, outside air gets trapped in the home. Experts recommend changing furnace filters once in three months during summer, while two to three times during winter.
There’s no denying that a fireplace gives a feeling of comfort and relaxation. However, it allows the heat to escape through the chimney. As the warm air leaves, the cold air finds its way to your home through the chimney. This makes the furnace work overtime to reheat the home.
Not everyone prefers layering up during winter. People prefer staying indoor, surrounded by warm air, and wearing comfortable and cozy night suits. However, not layering up means you will need the heater to work during peak times as well.
Your gas furnace is operating more often
When your gas furnace starts operating more than it usually does, there is a high chance of receiving a high natural gas bill.
There are several reasons why your gas furnace is working overtime. The first and most common one is the constant closure and opening of doors and windows during the winter. In winters, mostly around the time of holiday, we run in and out of the house quite a lot, which results in heat loss. This causes the gas furnace to work harder to generate more hot air.
A gas furnace works more to heat a house than to heat an apartment. Another factor that contributes to a high natural gas bill is the vaulted ceiling. High ceilings increase the workload of the gas furnace because higher ceilings mean more space.
High Water Temperature
Peak time energy use
Using energy in peak hours is the number one cause of the high natural gas bills. Hourly gas consumption varies throughout the day and across the season. If you use appliances like washing machines and dishwashers during peak hours, you will experience an increase in your bill.
But, if your natural gas supplier offers time-of-use plans, you should use large appliances during the off-peak hours.
Sometimes the high natural gas has more to do with your supplier’s rates. If you can’t find a possible reason behind the high cost, compare the gas prices of different suppliers to check how much gas you should pay and how much you are paying right now.
Increased demand of natural gas
Sometimes, the factors that result in increased cost are not in your control. One of such factors is the increased demand for natural gas. Increased demand results in high prices, while decreased demands result in low prices.
Factors that affect the prices of the gas include the amount of natural gas production and the level of natural gas in storage. An increase in commercial and industrial markets also fuels the increasing demand for natural gas. From fertilizing to pharmaceutical and farming companies, there is an array of industries that use natural gas to manufacture products.
In the past couple of years, the demand for natural gas increases during the coldest months of winter. During summer, the demand for air conditioners increases, which results in an increased demand for natural gas. In winter, the use of heat pump increases, which results in the high demand for natural gas.
Effective ways to save money on your natural gas bill
Keep your water heater and other appliances properly maintained
While trying to save money on your natural gas bill, the number one task on your list should be maintaining the water heater and other natural gas appliances.
Sometimes, old water heating systems and other appliances not running efficiently result in a high gas bill. Regularly check your heater’s filters for dust buildup. An old water heating system has become less energy-efficient over the years. In that case, the only suitable option you will have is to replace the water heater.
One more thing that can make a huge difference is turning down your water heater. If your water heater manufacture has the heater at 140 thermostats, bring it down a few degrees.
Cold air? Check for leakages
Leakage and blockage can both result in a high natural gas bill. To save money on gas bills, you should regularly check and repair leaks. Make sure you immediately reach out to your natural gas supplier about the leakage, so repair can be arranged.
Turn off and unplug the appliances you are not using
By leaving the appliances plugged in while leaving home, you are not only increasing the electric bill but also risking your life. Electrical and gas appliances are mechanical devices that can ultimately fail and cause major fires.
It’s a good practice to keep the appliances and lights of unused rooms, turned off. But, make sure you unplug all the appliances, including the heating and cooling equipment, television, ceiling fans, and microwave oven, before going out.
By turning off the appliances, you will be saving energy and, of course, money.
Take benefit of off-peak rates
Electricity use is higher during certain hours of the day. The on-peak hours begin at 7 am in the morning until 11 pm on weekdays. The demand increases during winter when people use heaters. Whereas, in summer, the peak season starts when people run heaters.
The rates increase during peak hours and decrease during off-peak hours. Not every company offers these peak hour plans, but if yours do, you can save money by running appliances during the off-peak hours.
Keep your water heater on low settings
20-degree temperature reduction can save you 10% in water heating costs. So, if you want to save energy to reduce heating bills, make sure you turn down your water heater is set at 120 degrees.
Some professionals recommend keeping water heaters set at a temperature between 130 to 150 degrees. However, that’s not true at all. 120 degrees is the preset thermostat temperature and recommended by the U.S Department of Energy. At this temperature, harmful pathogens are killed to prevent them from multiplying.
Most people can get third-degree burns when exposed to 150-degree water for 2 seconds. So, by turning down the temperature of your water heater, you will not only be reducing your utility bill but protecting you and your family members from burns.
Modern water heaters come with standby settings that use minimum gas and don’t require restarting the pilot light.
Layer up in winter
Nothing feels better than getting back to a warm, cozy house. However, we all know that comfort comes with a price. If you want to save energy, wear extra layering during the winter, so you can keep the thermostat set low.
You can wear a midweight polyester long underwear top, a jacket, and fleece pants. To keep your body warm during the night, you can take extra comforters and blankets.
Turn down your thermostat setting
The U.S Department of Energy suggests that you can save between 5% to 15% a year on heating bills by turning down the thermostat temperature by 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours every day. To save energy in the winter, make sure you keep the thermostat setting at 68°F during the day and turn it down to 10 to 15 degrees during the night.
If you want to save time, you can purchase a programmable thermostat. These automatically turn down the heat when you are away from home. They can save $100 in heating costs, which makes them better than non-programming ones.
Turn off the gas when you are away
One of the best bill-reducing tips is to turn off the gas when you plan to leave home for the majority of the day or week. Some gas meters feature a holiday mode, which lowers down the temperature setting of the water, ensuring that the gas doesn’t get wasted when you are away from home.
This might help you save big bucks, especially if you haven’t been able to locate a blockage or leak.
Invest in proper insulation
If you want to reduce heat loss and energy costs, your home’s insulation system should be the center of your attention.
Insulating your hot water storage tank, air duct system, and your doors and windows with weatherstripping is extremely important. Windows, when properly sealed, trap the warm air inside the room, which effectively saves energy and reduce energy cost.
If you don’t properly insulate the hot water storage tank, it will lose heat. Reheating the boiler will require more energy, resulting in higher energy bills.
The air ducts are responsible for transporting hot and cold air throughout your home. When air ducts experience air leaks and blockage, they require more energy and money to heat, cool, and ventilate other rooms. Due to the leak, your system may spout extremely hot or cold into your home.
Signs of Air Duct Leakage
- There is a chance that your air duct is leaking if you notice uneven heat and cold in certain rooms.
- If you receive a drastically higher energy bill, there’s a high chance of air duct leakage.
- Increase amount of dust and particulates
Improve Kitchen Habits
Improved kitchen and cooking habits can bring down gas and electricity bills by 5% to 30%. There are a few practical tips you can follow to save more money on your gas bill.
There are a few practical tips you can follow to save more money on your gas bill.
- If you have a dishwasher, use it on economy mode.
- Cook food with a lid on, so the food gets cooked quickly and you use less gas in the process
- Avoid using dishwashers to dry the dishes. Let the dishes air-dry.
- If you can wash dishes the old fashion way, avoid using the dishwasher completely.
- Use round bottom copper pans as they use the heat more efficiently. Copper cookware heats five times faster than cast iron.
- Use low heat for reducing the heating costs by 5 to 15% a year.
- Make sure you check the burners and regulators for any leaks.
- Invest in heat-resistant glassware as they heat up faster than metal plans
Additional tips for saving on your gas bill
- If you have tried everything, consider locking your gas prices so you don’t experience drastic changes in the bill
- Service your heating equipment at least once a year
- Replace older appliances
- Change the air filters
- For significant savings, purchase natural gas from a customer choice program
- Conduct an energy audit
- Make sure you replace drafty windows
- Stop pre-heating ovens for more than 12 to 15 minutes
- Turn down the water temperature when you take showers
- Install appliances with energy star labels
- Purchase low flow showerheads to decrease hot water consumption by 40% and reduce heating costs and monthly water bills (as long as you don’t lengthen your shower time)
- In summer, ensure that the ceiling fans are faced downward. This creates a breeze that calms down your skin.
- Don’t forget to install weather stripping for your doors and windows
- In winter, let the sunlight in during the day to reduce the use of heating system
- Take out frozen food 15 to 30 minutes before cooking to reduce gas waste by defrosting food on the stove.
- Don’t wash dishes until your sink is full to ensure that you heat up less water and save more energy
If you are looking to save on your gas bills, you should follow the aforementioned tips. Keep in mind that sometimes, the factors that result in high bills are not in your hands. If everything is fine at your end, maybe the cause of the increase in gas bills is your supplier.