The average annual natural gas bill was $761 in 2021, according to the American Gas Association. While that might not seem like a ton of cash, the U.S. is the world leader in yearly gas consumption, ahead of much more populous countries like China and India. The upshot: We could probably all use less gas — and save money along the way. To help you cut back, we’ve put together a guide that answers two central questions: 1) Why is my gas bill so high? and 2) How can I lower my gas bill?
5 Common Reasons Why Your Gas Bill Is So High
Your appliances are inefficient.
If you haven’t replaced your stove, clothes dryer, or water heater in a couple years, they could be driving up your gas bill. To lower your household’s consumption, invest in energy-efficient appliances. Better yet, ditch your gas stove completely, as it’s a hazard to your health and the environment.
Your home is poorly insulated.
Chances are your home is poorly insulated, especially if it was built a long time ago. For low-income households that can’t afford to pay someone to insulate their home, the government has a Weatherization Assistance Program.
Natural gas prices are high.
This year, Californians saw a huge increase in natural gas prices, with utilities attributing the spike to cold weather, high demand, and low supply. So if your energy bill is unusually high, it could be that the price of natural gas has gone up. Check with your local utility company and read local news to monitor spikes in gas prices.
You’ve got a gas leak.
If the above reasons don’t account for your abnormally expensive bill, then you should check for a gas leak, especially if you see an increase in usage during the summer months. Report leaks to your utility immediately, and if you smell gas inside, leave the house and call your local gas company right away.
The seasons are changing.
This should go without saying, but your gas bill will increase in the winter as you use the heater more.
How To Lower Your Gas Bill
Install a smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats are almost guaranteed to reduce your utility bill for the simple reason that they know when to turn on and off. For instance, some models will turn off the heat or air conditioning when you’re not home, using your mobile phone’s location. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household that installs an Energy Star smart thermostat should expect to save around 8% on their annual heating and cooling bill.
Dress warmly and cut back on your usage.
If you prefer a simpler, more ascetic solution, you can simply turn off your heater entirely and tough out the winter under a wool blanket. While it might not be the most comfortable option, dressing warmly and using your heater less often is a free, straightforward way to limit gas usage.
Use a portable heater.
You can also pair the above approach with a space heater, choosing to heat just one room of the house — like your bedroom or office. CNET estimates that this method saves around 20 cents per hour.
Insulate your house.
Again, properly insulating your house will help you save on your gas and electricity bills, particularly if it’s an old building. To check what type of insulation you have, you can cut a hole behind the baseboard or in a closet.
Turn your hot water tank down.
Setting your water heater at a lower temperature could save you hundreds of dollars. According to the EPA, most households only need to set their water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use efficient appliances.
If you ditch your gas stove and swap out old appliances with more efficient Energy Star models, you’ll save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
What If I Can’t Afford My Bill?
Don’t put off paying your gas bill, even if it’s too expensive. If you’re past due, your unpaid bill could be sent to a collections agency, which might eventually hurt your credit. Instead, try to get assistance from the government or a charity. On a federal level, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers help, though you should also check with your local utility for assistance.
The Bottom Line
Even if you don’t have money to spare on a smart thermostat, an energy-efficient electric stove, or new insulation, there are plenty of free ways to cut back on gas usage. At the very least, you can lower your water heater’s temperature and heat just one room of your house with a space heater. However you choose to cut back, it’s helpful to remember that your choices are good for your pocketbook, your health, and the planet.
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