According to the American Gas Association, natural gas is one of the most popular fuels for residential heating. More than half of American households use natural gas to operate major appliances in their homes like pool heaters, clothes dryers and fireplaces. Many do so because it’s more affordable and efficient than electricity.
Natural gas appliances are used more often in the colder months and depending on the climate where you live. Heading into fall and winter, controlling natural gas costs is on many people’s minds. Which appliances use the most natural gas? What are some ways to save on costs?
Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most commonly-used natural gas appliances.
Furnace / AC
At the top of the list is a home’s central heating and cooling. It didn’t use to be that natural gas A/C models existed, but in recent years they’ve become more popular. To keep these appliances working efficiently, you should consider changing the filters in your home’s ventilation system at least 4 times a year. You may also optimize the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling costs by installing a programmable or smart thermostat which can automate your thermostat habits based on your routine. Although it may be more costly at the beginning to find a higher efficiency furnace, it may very well be worth it in the end considering how much in operating costs it can save your household.
If you think about how much warm water you use every day, it’s likely more than you previously thought. From sanitizing dishes in the dishwasher to washing clothes to taking showers, a home’s water heater comes next on the list of appliances that use the most natural gas. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, water heating comprises anywhere from 14-18 percent of utility bills in most US households. However, even considering how much energy is needed for home water heating, natural gas is still the more affordable option and they’re over 20 percent more energy efficient according to the Department of Energy. They also have an average lifetime of about 20 years while standard water heaters tend to last only between 10-15 years.
Gas stove / oven
Gas ranges are more energy and cost-effective than traditional electric stoves. Additionally, they tend to conserve heat, meaning they don’t leak as much heat out into the kitchen, and they cook food more evenly. Lastly, you never have to worry about losing the ability to use your gas stove in the event of a power outage. One thing to remember, however, is that carbon monoxide leaks are possible with a gas stove so you definitely need to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home. If you decide to make the switch to a natural gas oven, you may also want to have a professional complete the installation just to be safe.
According to the DOE, gas-fired pool heaters are the most popular system for heating swimming pools versus heat pump and solar pool heaters. They’re also one of the more expensive natural gas items on this list depending on how often they’re used. This is why it’s often a good idea to shop around for a more highly efficient model. While the upfront cost of a more efficient model can be a little high, it often pays for itself in long-term savings assuming you use it often enough. For more savings, it’s recommended that you use a pool cover to keep heat from escaping. Using a cover when the pool is not in use can dramatically reduce heating cost.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an average US household spends $100 a year to operate an electric dryer while those who own natural gas dryers only spend about $40 annually. This may be because clothes typically dry faster and require less energy than conventional electric dryers. The initial cost of buying and installing versus the savings over the lifetime of the dryer put natural gas dryers towards the end of our list of appliances that use the most energy.
Outdoor yard lights
Natural gas outdoor lighting can be a reliable and environmentally friendly source of light. If used only when needed, it can also be affordable and add value to your home, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, it’s in the top three of appliances that use the most natural gas with a total annual cost of over $300 a year on average. Of course, you can always cut down on this cost by making sure you only use them at night, as some will stay on all the time unless turned off manually.
On the lower end of natural gas appliance costs, fireplaces are an excellent, cost-efficient way to keep your home warm during the colder months. Installation is usually cheaper than installing a wood burning fireplace, cleaner and less work. While wood burning fireplaces require the tedious job of supplying firewood and lighting, natural gas fireplaces turn on and off with the flip of a switch. Additionally, depending on the efficiency, natural gas fireplaces can reduce heating costs by anywhere between 20-40 percent on your energy bill. In the long term, the savings definitely outweigh the costs of owning a natural gas fireplace.
Natural gas appliances have significant advantages over appliances that run on other energy sources because they are more cost and energy-efficient. If you’re looking for even more ways to save on your heating bill that don’t include installing a new appliance, head over and read our savings tips!