Savings Tip for Natural Gas Consumers

March 3, 2014 Updated: March 3, 2014

Although most of us are likely to be looking at several weeks of cold weather still ahead of us, there are some benefits to thinking a bit further into the future—especially towards the warmer temperatures of summertime.

It might be nice to think about summer while we’re still experiencing the so-called “polar vortex,” but there are also some practical reasons to think ahead. Particularly for those who use natural gas, there are some things you may not be aware of, and things your gas company might not want you to know.

If you use natural gas, and use it only for your furnace, you may want to look into the possibility of temporarily shutting off your gas during the warmer months of the year. Although there is a fee to have it shut off—and another fee to have it turned back on—each month that you are not using any gas at all, you are still paying what’s called a “delivery fee.” This fee is only to have gas at your disposal, and the cost can be around $30 per month.  It is a set fee that is charged regardless of whether you use any gas that month or not.

For those who live in a region that has shorter summers, it might not be practical to have your gas shut off during that time. Because of the shut-off and turn-on fees, it may not be financially worth the trouble to shut it off unless you can do so for four months or more. For instance, in the Midwest, it would be quite feasible to be without heat May through October, especially if you have some type of substitute heating (such as electric heat) for when it’s just a bit cool. If you could shut off your gas for about six months, you could effectively save nearly $150, depending on actual disconnect/connect fees.

If you have other appliances—water heater, cooking stove, et cetera—on your natural gas line, you won’t want to have it turned off, of course. However, you might consider the possibility of changing to electric appliances, which are often touted as being less expensive as well as cleaner and better for the environment.

Naturally, some folks don’t want to have all of their appliances electric, thinking that a power outage would cause them to lose the ability to cook, heat water, or heat their homes. These are legitimate considerations, of course.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that furnaces rarely work in a power outage, as most modern furnaces have an electric ignition. So, although your gas cook stove and gas hot water heater will work in a power outage, if you have a gas furnace only, it might be time to consider replacing it with an electric model.

A final note:  If you decide to shut off your gas for the warmer seasons, be sure to give your gas company a few weeks advance notice for both the disconnection and reconnection of your gas service. Otherwise, if they are busy at that particular time, you may have to wait longer for disconnection or reconnection;  this could cause you to be caught without gas service when you might really need it.

*Image of a natural gas meter via Shutterstock