27 Tips on How to Reduce Gas Usage at Home
Your natural gas supplier may be delivering gas day and night with no interruptions. Having access to comfortable service such as this and not having to worry about hot water or hot rooms is one thing. But receiving your gas bill at the end of the month can be a bit of a bad surprise. With this in mind, let’s explore ways to lower your gas bill.
Tips on How to Lower Gas Bill
We are accustomed to cheap natural gas plans and increasing gas bills. Although it may sound like a paradox, utilities and especially natural gas bills in the US have been rising for the past few decades. To counterfeit this, we’ve come up with step-by-step instructions on how to lower or fully replace your natural gas use. Here are 27 ways to save on your natural gas bill:
- Properly maintain your heating systems,
- Check air vents and remove any blockages,
- Make your home air-tight,
- Keep all your vents open,
- Keep your windows and doors closed,
- Seal any cracks,
- Use good insulation,
- Insulate your Water Heater
- Clean and replace air filters regularly,
- Lower your thermostat,
- Use a smart thermostat,
- Use a humidifier,
- Use a dehumidifier,
- Use a space heater,
- Wear extra layers,
- Use natural sunlight,
- Turn down your water heater,
- Wash clothes in cold water,
- Hang your clothes,
- Use the dishwasher when it is full,
- Do not use the fireplace,
- Install an attic tent,
- Use other heat sources,
- Lock in your current rate – opt for a fixed-rate plan,
- Switch your gas suppliers,
- Use a timer,
- Install a heat pump, and
- Use a drain water heat recovery system.
1.) Proper Maintenance of Heating Systems and Appliances
One of the reasons your gas bill may be too high, even with an energy-efficient heating system, is that you did not do the regular maintenance of the heating system. Once a year at least, you should call in a professional who can inspect your heaters, all the piping, and the water heater. Only this way can you be sure that your heating system is running the way it should – in an energy-efficient way and with as little heat loss as possible.
The thing is, your water system has to withstand high temperatures and pressures. This puts all the elements of this heating system under stress and may result in less-than-ideal working conditions. Both gas leaks and heat leaks can occur, damaging the system further and increasing your heating bill. Regular inspections will prevent this and will enable you to save money in the long run.
2.) Check/Remove Any Blockages
The gas you use in your home is mostly used to heat the space. Sure, your water heater uses a lot of natural gas, too, but most of your gas bill goes for heating. Your central AC (Air Conditioning) unit burns natural gas (or other gasses, depending on what is available in your area) to heat the air or water. The heated water or warm air is then sent through your house through a system of pipes that all end either with a radiator or with an exhaust.
If you have big pieces of furniture blocking your warm air outlet, your heater may have to work twice as hard to keep the place warm. The thing is, if the warm air is blocked from entering the room, the thermostat will send a signal to the central unit saying to keep pumping more hot air into the system, similarly to leaving the window open.
3.) Find/Remove Any Air Leaks
If you want to save money by slashing those energy costs and stop sending too much money to the gas company, yet another simple tip we can give you is to check for any potential air leaks. Air leaks can happen in many places around the house, such as damaged roofs, damaged walls, and the flooring leading to the basement. However, the most common place where cold air gets into the house and ups your heating bill is around doors and windows, as well as in places where the frames should close all the way.
To find an air leak, wait out for a windy day. Close all the windows and the doors and get a candle. Light the candle and take it with you around the house. Make sure to bring the candle close to the door and window frames and see whether the flame is moving or not. If the flame seems to be ‘dancing,’ there is a draft and a potential place of entry for cold air. Bear in mind that these are also the places where warm air will seep in during summer.
You can use special silicone bands and strips to close off these cracks where cold air could be entering your house and making you use more natural gas than you otherwise should. Additionally, you should do a roof inspection once a year and check for any cracks there. Special silicone molds can be used to repair this type of damage. Not only do damaged roofing and roof insulation let cold air in, but they also increase the chances of water getting into the house and causing even more damage.
4.) Make Sure the Vents are Open
As we go about our day, we may partially or even fully shut some of the vents. While some rooms may be too cold in the summertime, other rooms may be too hot during wintertime. The thing is that every vent that is closed (at least partially) decreases the overall energy efficiency of your heater. Your system then uses more natural gas and increases your gas bill so that you end up paying more to the gas company.
To keep your natural gas bill, keep all your vents open. Investigate the market and see what other types of central heating there are. Radiators, for example, coupled with a thermostat, allow you to precisely control the temperature in each individual room – this way, your energy bill will correspond to your real needs – and will be 5-10% lower in most cases. This is especially important as natural gas prices fluctuate in the gas market.
5.) Keep your Doors & Windows Closed
Keeping your windows and doors closed for the most part will significantly decrease how much natural gas your home uses and will have a positive impact on how energy-efficient your home is. As it goes, you can save money by making simple changes to your lifestyle. Your natural gas bill will be lower in both summer and winter.
The official recommendation is to vent or air out your home around once a day for 5-15 minutes. We usually recommend doing this early in the morning, when the air outside is fresh. If it is summertime, you will benefit from having some cold air find its way into the house and help the AC work less. Your energy usage can skyrocket even with a single window kept ajar, as the cold air that finds its way inside will need to be reheated at all times.
6.) Seal Your Windows
A similar phenomenon can be seen when there are cracks between the window frames or the window and the wall itself. Even a low air flow can bring a lot of cold air into the house. Heating all of it takes substantial amounts of energy, so your central heating or heat pump will have to put in extra hours of work just to keep the house warm. Make regular inspections of all windows of your house, including roof and basement windows.
Even if unheated, cooling down these two areas can help cool down the rest of the house and boost your gas costs. To prevent this, you should use caulking agents or silicone strips around your window frames. Cheap and easy to install, these solutions take minutes of your time but can save you a couple of days’ worth of work on your energy bills year after year.
7.) Use Proper Insulation
Sealing your windows and door frames is a form of insulating your home against the elements and lowering your energy use. In addition to this, your walls, roof, and basement should also be insulated. This can be done by various materials, including expanding foams, styrofoam, and other materials that can be both virgin materials or recycled materials.
When insulating your home, always pay a certified contractor. Only they will be able to guarantee good results and ensure the heat stays where it should – inside your home. Pay attention to the thickness of the proposed insulation – as the roof and the basement needs thicker insulation than the walls. Inner walls do not need to be insulated at all.
Even if your home has insulation, you should hire a professional contractor to check the state of your insulation and insulating materials used around your house. This should be done once a year as insulating materials can deteriorate over time and need replacing every 20 or so years. You can speak with your utility company or natural gas company and ask if you can get a free home energy audit, as checking insulating materials and the sealant on your windows and door frames is a part of the audit.
8.) Insulate your Water Heater
Your water heater uses a substantial amount of energy. It can make a big contribution to your overall natural gas bill. For this reason, it is important to know that there are ways to save money without compromising the quality of your life. Your electric bill or natural gas bill could be much lower if you invested just a bit of money (usually not more than $100) to insulate your hot water tank.
Thermal blankets, styrofoam boards, and mineral and glass wool blankets all offer substantial protection against heat leaking out. They are a great way to help conserve energy and how much heating oil or natural gas your water heater uses. You should also insulate your hot water pipes – a simple insulating blanket is usually enough to keep the heat in hot water. An added benefit of this is that you will be able to get hot water on the tap much faster each morning.
Besides insulation, there are also other ways you can help reduce your hot water bill. You can install hot water collectors on the roof and use renewable energy to reduce your water heating bills. Additionally, you can use heat-recovering wastewater pipes or even install a heat pump and use ⅙ of energy to heat the same amount of water – effectively saving 85% on your overall heating bill.
9.) Clean/Replace Filters Regularly
All AC units have filters that should be cleaned and replaced regularly. Similarly to your laundry dryer filters, these filters collect dust and lint found in the air throughout your house. As they filter the air from the entire house, there could also be mold spores and other microorganisms that you should get rid of regularly.
Besides replacing and cleaning your AC filters regularly, you should also consider vacuuming the exhaust and intake vents. These vents can collect a considerable amount of dust and mold and may not be the safest thing to keep in the house. Regularly cleaning them will also help reduce your allergies, as well as other respiratory tract and eye issues.
10.) Lower Your Thermostat
Lowering your thermostat is the next logical step in lowering your natural gas bill. This way, you can save a significant amount of energy every single month. Lowering the thermostat on your heating unit can help reduce your gas bill and save money. Simply putting on an additional layer of clothes in the winter can help you put extra dollars into your pocket every month.
The thing is that most of us keep the thermostats too high. If you open your windows or doors at any time of the day, simply to freshen up the air inside or let some cool air in, you may be overheating your apartment or home. By lowering your thermostat, you can save money and reduce your utility bills, and your air conditioner will be thankful, as it will work less during the heating season and will be able to serve you for more years.
In addition to this, investing in a programmable thermostat or even a smart thermostat will help you reduce natural gas costs and save money. These devices can control your central heating unit by controlling the primary heating source and how much heat it outputs. Programmable thermostats, for example, can shut off the heating during the night or when you are at work. When you need to come back home, usually an hour before you enter the house, they crank up the heat, increasing the temperature while saving on your energy bills.
Among your gas appliances, there is one more appliance that has a thermostat that you can lower. This is your water heater. It is usually recommended that you keep the water heater temperature at 14o degrees Fahrenheit. However, this is too high in most cases. Lowering the thermostat can help:
- Lower your natural gas costs,
- Increase safety in your home – as there will be no danger of getting burned by hot water, and
- It will make it feasible to install an air-source pump (for providing hot water), as they are much more efficient at lower temperatures.
11.) Use a Smart Thermostat
Using a smart thermostat is the next best deal that you can do. Using a smart thermostat can save money on your gas bill and also on your electric bill. This type of thermostat learns about your energy needs over time and adapts itself to save as much energy as possible by turning off heating when not in use, lowering the temperature in unused rooms, or managing multiple energy sources – all of which are great ways to save.
12.) Use a Humidifier
Using a humidifier in particularly dry regions can help you save on your heating bills. The thing is that, as dry air interacts with your skin, it can draw moisture from it, making you feel colder than you actually are. To counterfeit this, purchase an air humidifier and make sure to set it between 30-50% humidity. Anything above this reading may promote mold and mildew growth and may compromise your health.
13.) Use a Dehumidifier
Your natural gas heating system does not heat air only. In addition to this, it also heats all the water that is in the air. If you live in climates where the median air humidity levels are over 50% year-round or at least during the cold part of the year, you may want to consider purchasing a dehumidifier. The thing is that the human body works the best when humidity levels are between 30-50%. Anything over this, and you’re pulling too much gas from your natural gas supplier.
14.) Use a Space Heater
Using an electric space heater can help reduce your energy costs, too. If you live in regions where electricity does not cost much, you can use a space heater to help you save on your natural gas bill. Natural gas plans usually come with a fixed price so that your gas bills are always the same. Using a space heater can help lower a part of these expenses, especially if you only use them during the free energy or off-peak periods.
15.) Wear Extra Layers
Wearing extra layers of clothes is a no-brainer. This will allow you to reduce your thermostat by a few degrees and will result in significant savings without making any modifications to your existing natural gas heating system or hitting the home improvement stores. Just a light sweater can make a huge difference in your gas bill and help you put more money in your pocket.
16.) Utilize Natural Sunlight
Utilizing natural sunlight to help heat your home does not have to mean that you will be installing complex solar arrays or spending thousands on special window glass. Rather, utilizing natural sunlight can be as simple as opening up your curtains and blinds during sunny periods of the day. Make sure you do so only on the sides of the house where the sun is shining – as opening up curtains on other parts of the house can result in more heat being radiated back into the environment.
Using natural sunlight can also mean installing solar collectors. These devices are roof-mounted and consist of a series of vacuum pipes that small amounts of water can percolate through. As the water passes through the tube, it is heated by the sunlight and can then be used for a variety of purposes. This is a cheap and effective way to get hot water for heating or residential use while enabling you to lower your gas bills and get warm water from renewable energy.
17.) Turn Down Your Water Heater (If Possible)
There are many types of water heaters on the market. While some are energy-efficient and can help combat heat loss, you should know that even your old water heater could be running efficiently. The secret lies in turning down the thermostat on the water heater. This way, your hot water will be available at a more comfortable temperature and will cost you less to keep hot, especially in water heaters with a hot water tank.
Additionally, you can either: 1. Invest in a solar collector system and get free hot water, or 2. Invest in a tankless water heater. If you choose the latter approach, your water heater will use more energy, but for way shorter periods of time. As running efficiently means combating heat loss, your tankless water heater will help you save, as water heaters with tanks use lower amounts of gas but more gas overall.
18.) Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Most people wash their clothes in water that is too warm. This increases your gas and electric bills. In reality, most clothes today are made of synthetic materials. Just check the clothes label: if it says polyester or anything else besides ‘100% cotton, you’re good to use cold water to wash the clothes. In addition to this, most laundry detergents today give equally as good results in cold water as they do in hot water.
In reality, hot water cycles should only be used on cotton materials that are white in color. This includes your bed sheets, underwear, and other white cotton undergarments. Using hot temperatures on clothes of any other colors will wash away the color over time, and using high temperatures on clothes made of synthetic materials can cause them to shrink.
An average US laundry washer machine uses around $50 per year to do its job. This is not much, but it adds up over time. Luckily, there are ways to save:
- Powering your washing machine through your solar array,
- Purchasing an energy-efficient model,
- Purchasing a washer with a hot-water inlet (consider the cost of heating the water – this is the best option if you have solar collectors on your roof),
- Only running a washing cycle when the washer is full,
- Reusing water discharge as gray water to water your ornamental garden,
- Running your washer during off-peak times, and
- Washing on a lower temperature setting.
19.) Hang Your Clothes
Another effective way to save on your laundry is to avoid using a dryer altogether. As a dryer normally uses up $82 worth of electricity every year, simply hanging your clothes to dry can help you save. This is also an eco-friendly way to dry your clothes, as it will result in less lint, fewer microplastics, and less energy use, as energy providers will agree.
20.) Only Use the Dishwasher on Full Loads
Similarly to your laundry washer, you should also use your dishwasher on full loads only. Running a dishwasher costs $40 per year, but this cost can skyrocket if you run it after every meal or, by habit, every day. Using the dishwasher only when it is full can help you save money in two ways – by reducing energy costs and dishwasher tab costs.
21.) Don’t Use the Fireplace or Only Use Sparingly
Your fireplace is a great way to heat the space but also to cool it down. An average fireplace chimney can suck out 24,000 cubic feet of warm air from your house and send it into the atmosphere every hour. This means that 24,000 cubic feet of cold air will enter your home every hour, too. To save on your heating (and cooling costs during summer), close off the chimney and use an electric fireplace for that lovely crackling sound and fire light.
22.) Install an Attic Tent
Installing an attic tent is a must for all homes. The thing is that hot air can escape your home through the attic door. By placing an attic tent on top of the attic door, you can save precious hot air and prolong the longevity of your roof construction. The air escaping into the attic is usually very moist, and once in the attic space, it cools down rapidly, causing condensation on the woodwork.
23.) Utilize Other Energy/Heat Sources
Using other energy/heat sources is a great way to save, too. Negotiate your natural gas and electricity pricing with your utility company. Check for any other models of heating your home that may cost more initially but can save a lot of money in the long run. Here are some ideas on how to heat your home for less money this winter:
- Use a heat pump – air-source, water-source, and ground-source heat pumps are available,
- Use geothermal energy – depending on where you are in the US, you may be able to heat your home using this free energy source,
- Tap into the solar energy – both solar collectors and solar panels can help keep your home warm for less money,
- If living in the countryside, you can:
- Grow your own wood to burn,
- Use dual-stage burners to use up every single watt of heat from the biomass that you can grow yourself,
- Use anaerobic digesters for both your and animal waste,
- Use aired aerobic digesters for heating both your home and your water,
- Use residential, vertical-axis, or chimney-type wind turbines to get free electricity.
There are many more ideas, simply browse Electricrate.com and the Web and see what other creative solutions people have come up with.
24.) Lock in Your Current Rates
Locking in your current rates can also help you save. You can lock in your electric energy rates or even your natural gas rates and lower your gas bill, especially when there are significant fluctuations in natural gas prices on the wholesale market. It is essential to browse and compare before making any commitments.
25.) Switch to a different Gas Supplier
Switching to a different gas or electric supplier can also help drive down the costs of heating your home. Always explore your options and see what more affordable offers you can come up with in your region. An average US family spends $670 per year on gas, so finding ways to save can pay off pretty quickly.
26.) Use a Timer / Use Delayed Start Option
If you live in an area where electricity or natural gas plans include Peak and Off-Peak tariffs, you may want to consider using a portion of the gas or electricity during the off-peak periods only. This is as simple as installing a timer and plugging your water heater into it. The timer should be set to allow power only during the off-peak period. Most laundry machines and dishwashers have an in-built timer – a delayed start option.
27.) Install a Heat Pump
Installing a heat pump is another genius solution that can reduce your energy use. Relying on technology that is similar to what we can find in fridges and freezers, heat pumps do not heat – they transfer heat from one medium (such as the outside air) to another (the air in your home). For this reason, they use up to 85% less electricity compared to regular heating units. With most appliances, there is really no difference between using electricity or gas to power them – except in the price, as is the case with gas vs. electric dryers.
28.) Use a Drain Water Heat Recovery System
A drain water heat recovery system is a simple and easy-to-install passive heat recovery system. The entire technology relies on two pipes. In this system, your wastewater line is partially replaced by a new pipe. Around this pipe, a pipe of a smaller diameter is folded. As hot refuse water runs through the inner pipe, the smaller pipe carries cold water – which picks up the heat from residue water and helps you save 25-50% on your hot water bill.
Factors Making Your Gas Bill Expensive
Even after you’ve implemented all the advice on how to lower your gas bill, you may still notice that your home energy bills are different month after month. Natural gas bill is no exception here, so you may need to learn about different factors (some of which you cannot influence) that comprise your natural gas price. Here are the reasons your gas bill may be high:
Natural gas is fuel, and like any other fuel, it has its own prices. Natural gas is also a commodity and is traded on the world natural gas market. Depending on the availability and the simple demand and supply factors, the price you pay for natural gas will fluctuate. The higher the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the natural gas price. The higher the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price that you will be paying for your gas.
Changes in the weather
Speaking about the supply and demand of natural gas, it goes without saying that you should be aware of how changes in weather conditions can influence these two. Sudden cold spells and rainy days generally see a rise in the demand for natural gas. Similarly, hot days during winter, overly sunny days, etc., can decrease the demand for natural gas and bring down its prices.
Outdated or Inefficient Heating Technology
Using outdated or inefficient technology can significantly up your natural gas costs. This is because older technology uses more gas to do the same work (e.g., to keep the water hot in your hot water tank). Moreover, outdated technology may have bad insulation, which may result in energy loss and higher energy bills.
Outdated technology can also have blocked air or waterways. This significantly decreases the energy efficiency of your appliances. Old and dirty air filters, on the other hand, prevent the unit from pumping the air as quickly and may also result in higher energy bills.
What Determines the Price of Gas?
The price of gas is determined by a multitude of factors, all of which work independently to form the price of the gas you pay. Here are the factors that make up the price of natural gas:
• Weather conditions and events,
• Fuel prices,
• Political events,
• Supply and demand.
In a home setting, how much you pay for natural gas is also determined by your natural gas use and how efficient your gas appliances are.
Is it Better to Get Fixed or Variable Electricity and Gas?
It is always better to get a fixed electricity and gas rate. The thing is that with a variable rate, you can save during certain periods of the year, such as spring and autumn. However, bad weather and cold spells (think Texas winter of 2021) may send your bills in the thousands of dollars for a single month. To avoid this risk, we always recommend going for a fixed-rate electricity and gas plan.
Is it Cheaper to Leave Heat On All Day?
No, it is not cheaper to leave the heat on all day. Leaving the heat on for an entire day will result in more gas being used than it absolutely has to be. Turning down the heat during the night or when you are at work will result in a lower gas bill. However, you should not turn the heat off completely when not around unless you’re planning a trip that will take longer than several days.
Is it Better to Have Gas or Electric Heat?
It is always better to have gas heating. Gas is comparably cheaper than electricity and will produce more heat for the same amount of money. However, you may decide to use a combination of both energy sources, especially in regions where you may have access to free electricity during certain periods of the day.
Even if you have an efficient heating system, you should know that your natural gas bill can still be lower. This can all be done without compromising the quality of your life – instead, you can reduce your gas bill. Apply all our tips, and your central heating unit will use less gas than ever before.