Natural gas is a great way to supply energy to your home. It has several benefits over oil and electric power, including cheaper cost, higher efficiency and more reliability no matter what the weather conditions are. And unlike other forms of energy, natural gas is primarily produced domestically [source: Vectren Corporation].
But like any other means of heating, cooling and powering your house, there's still a monthly cost involved -- and that cost can be pretty high if you're not energy-smart. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your natural gas bill low.
First and foremost, use less electricity. Turn off lights in empty rooms and unplug your appliances when you're not using them. You can also invest in special energy-efficient appliances that are designed to use less power than standard appliances. You should also consider switching to compact-fluorescent light bulbs that are more efficient than traditional light bulbs [source: Piedmont Natural Gas].
Keep this fact in mind when you're looking at your energy costs: The majority of your power bill, about 45 percent, comes from heating and cooling your home. Minimizing the loss of heated or cooled air can save you a lot of money. You should also clean or replace your air furnace filters at least once a month, and make sure your home is properly insulated. In addition, it's a great idea to invest in an automatic thermostat that can adjust the temperature when you aren't at home -- this can potentially save you hundreds of dollars every year [source: PSNC Energy].
Did you know that the cost to operate your water heater is typically about 11 percent of your monthly power bill? It's true. But natural gas water heaters are about half as expensive to operate versus electric water heaters, and they recover hot water at a faster rate, too. Still, there are things you can do to keep the costs down. One option is a water heater insulation kit, which minimizes the loss of heat. Also, once a year you should drain a full bucket of water out of the bottom of your water heater tank. This removes any sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank, which can prevent the heating element from properly warming the water, making the device even less efficient [source: PSNC Energy].
In addition, taking shorter showers and reducing the temperature of the hot water stored in the tank are great ways to cut down on your natural gas usage.