The days are getting longer and the weather’s getting warmer. That means spring is just around the corner, when thoughts naturally turn to natural gas prices. What?
Spring usually means looking forward to baseball and picnics and simply shaking off the chill of winter. But if you take a look back at the cost of gas and what it meant to keep your home warm this past winter, you’ll want to find ways to cut that bill next winter.
The federal government requires furnace manufacturers to display how efficient they are so that consumers can easily compare models. It’s known as annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which is basically the percentage of heating fuel that actually becomes heat in your home. The minimum AFUE that the government allows in a new furnace is 78%, which means that 22% of the natural gas you are being billed for is being wasted. When it comes to natural gas prices, that wasted gas is wasted money. And, the AFUE only deals with the efficiency of the unit. That doesn’t take into account how much heated air may be leaking out of duct work and poorly sealed doors and windows, but that’s a whole other ballgame.
The best way to cut natural gas prices is to install a high efficiency furnace. If your home is just a few years old, chances are that your furnace is costing you a little money every month. If it’s a decade or more old, it could be costing you a lot! How much? It could be nearly 50% of what you’re paying for natural gas!
The first step to saving money is understanding what kind of furnace you have, so here are a few tips on identifying how efficient – or inefficient – it is. If your furnace has a continuous pilot light, its AFUE probably falls below 72%. If your furnace has an electronic ignition, its AFUE is probably around 80%. Now, keep in mind that these are ballpark figures, but the reality of the situation is that your AFUE could be much lower and that could lower your natural gas bill.
Based on government figures, if your furnace’s AFUE is 50%, replacing it with a new, high efficiency model with an AFUE of 95% would save you $47.36 per $100 spent on natural gas. That means that if you spent an average of $300 a month this past winter, you could cut that to under $160 a month next winter.
Next winter may seem a long way off, but just like buying a swimsuit in the fall or a winter coat in the spring can save you money, updating your heating system in the “off-season” can be a financial “home-run”.