For many of us, our monthly gas bill can be among our highest home-related expenses. This is especially true in climates like Minnesota’s where winter and summer temperatures can be extreme. However, there are ways of monitoring, adjusting, and reducing those costs.
The main factors affecting your gas bill are the appliances you use, their fuel efficiency, and how you use them. These factors work together to determine your energy usage and bill. Here are some ways to conserve and save, appliance by appliance.
Your furnace is typically the biggest consumer of gas. And if you have an older, less efficient furnace, that can make a big difference in your gas bill.
- Start by checking the venting from the furnace to the chimney. If it’s metal, your furnace is older and running at 80% or less efficiency. You might want to consider replacing it with one of the newer units that run at 94-97% efficiency. The savings will add up quickly.
- Change the filter regularly. It’s a good idea to inspect it every month and change it if it looks dirty. Minimally, change it every three months.
If you don’t already have one, installing a programmable thermostat can help you save. It will let you automatically reduce heating and cooling when you’re away or just don’t need it as much. It can also help you maintain comfortable (but not extreme) temperatures in your home. Try to keep your heat set at 68° or lower and your cooling at 78° or higher for optimum comfort and economy.
- In the colder months, add a sweater to your wardrobe and layer blankets while sleeping.
- It’s also a good idea to move frequently used furniture away from windows and doors to avoid unnecessary drafts.
- To prevent or reduce those drafts, be sure your doors and windows are fully closed and well sealed.
- Avoid opening doors and windows any more than necessary, whether heating or cooling your home.
A gas water heater is usually the second biggest consumer of gas, often adding up to as much as 15-25% of your total usage. As with your furnace, it pays to be sure your unit is running efficiently. If your heater is 10 years or older, it’s far less efficient than models available today. An investment in a new one can pay for itself in a fairly short time.
- Check your heat setting. Optimally, it should be set at 120° or lower. Anything higher will burn up your gas bill.
- Taking a short shower rather than a bath can save 5 to 10 gallons of water and the energy it takes to heat it!
You can create energy savings on laundry day using these tips:
- Wash full loads. A single full load takes less energy than several smaller ones.
- If you must wash a smaller load, adjust the water level accordingly.
- Use cool or cold water whenever feasible.
- Dry heavier and lighter loads separately.
- Dry multiple loads back-to-back to take advantage of the built-up heat.
- Make sure to clean the lint trap after every load.