If your natural gas cost shot through the roof recently, you might be wondering if your furnace is to blame. Many homeowners have called us, concerned about furnace damage or faulty installation.
But your furnace might not be the problem at all.
Why has my gas bill gone up?
You may want to blame your furnace for the recent spike in your gas costs. It is true that some furnace issues, like dirty filters and gas leaks, can make your natural gas bill go up unexpectedly. You should take this into consideration, but your furnace might not be the problem.
The worldwide spike in natural gas prices
Starting in October there was a significant increase in the price of natural gas in New Mexico. Rachel Lorenz, writing for the ABQ Journal, quoted Tim Korte from the New Mexico Gas Company as saying that the cost of gas in October was 179% higher than last year and was expected to be 135% in November. If your gas bill spiked in October or November, chances are high that your furnace is working correctly.
Why did the gas prices go up?
International Supply and Demand
Don’t worry, New Mexico Gas Company isn’t gouging you. The price they pay for natural gas is the price you pay because regulations prevent them from making a profit. The price increase comes from the limited supply and the high demand worldwide. New Mexico Gas Company is at the mercy of worldwide prices, meaning so are New Mexicans.
The Big Freeze of 2021
According to Robert Nott, writing for the Santa Fe New Mexican, the big storm in February of 2021 that shut down parts of Texas and New Mexico cost the New Mexico Gas Company over $100 million. To help recoup some of those losses, they have been charging $5 – $10 more per month since July 2021. Honestly, many New Mexicans may not have noticed this increase at all. The real leap in price is due to supply and demand.
How do I know for sure that it isn’t my furnace?
It’s good to keep an eye on your furnace’s gas usage. Keep in mind, the colder it gets, the more gas your furnace will use to keep your house warm. If you experience a somewhat higher gas bill in a month when the weather gets significantly colder (usually between October and December), then it’s probably not due to damage or faulty installation.
That being said, some furnace issues can cause significant spikes in energy bills:
Dirty Furnace Filters – Your furnace filter is there to capture dust and debris before it gets to your heat exchanger. If the filter isn’t changed regularly, it gets clogged. Your furnace has to work harder to bring air in through the dirty filter, making it use more gas to get the job done. If you haven’t changed your filter in more than three months, it’s definitely time.
Gas Leaks – Naturally, a gas leak will make your gas bill go up. It’s also dangerous to your health and safety. If you notice a rotten egg smell, breeze-like movement of dust on the floor, hissing sounds from gas appliances, or dead/dying plants near your gas line, you might have a leak.
If you suspect you have a gas leak, do the following immediately:
- Extinguish any open flame. This includes cigarettes, candles, and fireplaces. Turn off all gas-using appliances like stoves, water heaters, and gas dryers. Anything that has a pilot light or an open flame is a hazard. It’s also suggested you don’t start your car or flip any electrical switches. Don’t do anything that risks a spark.
- Get out of the house. Remove yourself and your family from the house as soon as possible. If the gas comes in contact with an open flame, you don’t want to be nearby.
- Call New Mexico Gas Company immediately. Call the emergency number 1-888-NM-GAS-CO (1-) right away. They will come out and test for a gas leak.
- If a gas leak is detected, call TLC. A gas leak is dangerous, so if one is found, the appliance will be red-tagged or the meter pulled, but the gas company doesn’t do repairs. You’ll need to call a plumber to fix the problem. TLC’s gas line experts will get you taken care of as quickly as possible so you can get on with your life.
Schedule your gas leak detection and repair today.
There’s a good chance that your shockingly higher gas bill is simply due to market conditions. Still, it’s good to keep an eye on your furnace too. If you’re experiencing furnace issues along with an increased gas bill, call TLC’s expert heating professionals to inspect your furnace and make sure there’s nothing else going on.
The sudden increase in gas prices is a hardship for many New Mexican families. New Mexico Gas Company knows this and has compiled a list of assistance programs, along with gas-saving tips, to help. You can find these resources on their webpage: nmgco.com/en/gas_price.
Levi is one of our boiler experts. He has several years of experience repairing and replacing boiler systems. He has been with TLC for 7 years and is a licensed HVAC technician.