High Natural Gas Bills? Check Out Your Appliance Costs

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If your natural gas bill is high, there are several things you can do to help control your energy costs, including simply using less natural gas. One of the ways you can use less natural gas is to replace old and inefficient appliances with new, more efficient appliances. This guide will show you how much energy common natural gas appliances consume over the course of a year and how much, on average, it costs to operate them. You can use this information to make informed decisions about upgrading the natural gas appliances in your home that have the greatest effect on your natural gas bill.

ApplianceTypical Consumption
Per Year (therms)*
Cost Per
Month**
Cost Per
Year**

Furnace

489 th

$43

$518

Pool heater

360 th

$32

$381

Outdoor yard light

302 th

$27

$320

Water heater

258 th

$23

$273

Gas fireplace with gas logs

72 th

$6.33

$76

Clothes dryer

69 th

$6.08

$73

Free standing range

40 th

$3.50

$42

Outdoor grill

15 th

$1.32

$16

A few Notes on Appliance Costs

Furnace, Pool Heater and Gas Fireplace

The average gas costs associated with a furnace, pool heater and gas fireplace are skewed somewhat heavily toward the cold winter months, resulting in high usage for a certain period of time followed by little usage the rest of the year. Therefore, while we’ve provided average monthly costs for using these appliances, these numbers will almost certainly be much higher during the winter and much lower during the summer, depending on your climate. The important figure to note regarding these appliances is average cost per year.

Furnace numbers are based on an average gas furnace with a 92 percent efficiency rating. Pool heater numbers are based on using 300,000 Btu/hr over 120 hours of annual operation. Gas fireplace numbers are based on burning gas logs (as opposed to using a gas-starter fireplace) at 60,000 Btu/hr over 120 hours of annual operation.

To increase the energy efficiency of your furnace without investing in a new furnace, try changing out the furnace filters on a regular basis. You can save money when operating your furnace setting back your programmable thermostat least 10 degrees for eight hours a day.

To save money on pool heating costs, consider using a pool cover to prevent heat from escaping or turning down the pool temperature a degree or two (each degree of setback will save 10 to 30 percent off pool heating costs).

Outdoor Yard Light

Outdoor yard light numbers are based on using a triple mantle gas light that burns 3.451 Btu/hr and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Water Heater

Water heater numbers are based on 40-gallon models with a 0.63 EF rating using 40,000 Btu/hr and based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national average of 64 gallons of hot water use daily.

To save money on water heating, the DOE suggests shortening your showers and washing your clothes in cold water. Besides simply using less hot water, you can also set your water heater as low as 120 degrees. Every 10 degree reduction in water heater temperature can save three to five percent in monthly energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Other energy-saving options include insulating your water heater tank and hot water pipes and installing heat traps on your water heater tank.

Clothes Dryer

Clothes dryer numbers are based on a 5.8 cu. ft. model using 20,000 Btu/hr over 275 hours of annual operation. The most direct way to save money when it comes to drying clothes is to hang your clothes to air dry, which will also increase the lifespan of your clothes. Other energy-saving options include using moisture sensors instead of timers, cleaning the lint filter after every load and drying towels and heavy cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.

* Therm (th) is a measure of natural gas equivalent to 100,000 British thermal units (Btu) or one CCF. You may be billed for natural gas by the MCF (thousands of cubic feet), CCF (hundreds of cubic feet), or therm, depending on how your natural gas delivery utility records your natural gas use.

** Based on an average monthly gas price of $1.059 per therm.

Sources

Metropolitan Utilities District, “Annual Operating Costs for Gas Appliances,” April 2010.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Energy-Efficient Water Heating.”

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “How to Read Residential Electric and Natural Gas Meters.”

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Laundry.”

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Managing Swimming Pool Water Temperature for Energy Efficiency.”

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Swimming Pool Covers.”

U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Natural Gas Prices (Release Date: Jan. 30, 2012).”

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