What is a therm?
Like most people, you’ve probably never given thought as to what exactly your natural gas bill consists of — and that’s okay. We’re here to show you why it’s in your best interest to understand your natural gas bill — and more importantly, understand how to lower it.
How your natural gas consumption affects your price per therm
First, you need to understand how your gas usage is calculated. When you first look at your natural gas bill, you’ll usually see the cost per therm under your rate plan (e.g., $0.52 per therm). What exactly is a therm you ask? Well, according to the EIA, “Therm is the unit of measurement for your natural gas use over time.” One therm is equal to 100,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) — which in case you were wondering, is the quantity of heat that’s needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs aren’t something you really have to concern yourself with, as most natural gas bills will show a price per therm.
You may notice your gas company also referring to CCF on your bill, which is how they measure the amount of energy you consume. One therm is equal to 100 cubic feet of natural gas (CCF).
Your natural gas bill is a direct result of the amount of natural gas you use in your home and the rate you pay per therm. The more natural gas you burn, the higher your gas bill will be.
The amount of gas you use effectively comes down to variables such as the effectiveness of your appliances, how often you use them, and any external variables such as the weather. For example, people who live in colder climates often pay a higher monthly gas bill than those in warmer climates — because they will need to use more gas to heat their home. This is because usually natural gas is used in our homes in the form of heat, and air conditioning is usually billed via electricity. In fact, according to SocalGas, “During cold weather, gas usage typically increases three to seven times compared to warmer summer weather since we tend to use our home heater more frequently.”
Think about that for a second, three to seven times more when compared to warmer weather. This is why it’s important to know what your current rate is. If you’re not locked into a fixed rate, the price you pay per therm might jump at times of high demand. Remember, not only will the price increase, but your overall usage will too. Ultimately the price you’ll end up paying to stay warm could be much higher if your rate follows the market fluctuations instead of remaining fixed.
A couple of tips that will help you use fewer therms each month
When you’re looking at ways to use less gas to lower your bill, the first thing you should do is evaluate your gas-burning appliances. The more efficient your appliances are, the less gas you need to produce the same output. Energy Star appliances are the best in the business when it comes to efficiency. Energy Star appliances can really make a difference in lowering your overall energy bill, while also being better appliances overall.
Sometimes though, having Energy Star appliances is just not feasible. In those cases, it is important to monitor your appliances and their usage throughout the year. Two of the biggest players in your natural gas bill will be your water heater, and your furnace. According to Oasis Energy, these two appliances alone can cost you about $66 a month.
Luckily there are still ways to lower your overall monthly costs. Your furnace will be your biggest culprit, costing you around an average of $43. To reduce these costs, there are two things you need to do consistently:
- Change your furnace filters on a regular basis.
- Control your thermostat.
Changing your filters should already be part of your habits. When it comes to your thermostat though, you probably focus more on immediate comfort, rather than thinking about the impact on your bill. That’s ok, we’ve all been guilty of that. The good thing though, is that we can change our habits. So when winter rolls around, rather than cranking up your furnace to its maximum capacity, try finding ways to use less heat. There are a handful of ways you might be able to sacrifice a couple degrees here and there, including:
- Turn the heat down when you’re not home or in rooms you aren’t using
- Add an extra blanket to your bed
- Keep your blinds closed and adding a door sweep to your outside doors
These are just a few examples of ways to stay warm without increasing your thermostat, and there are many more out there. Give one or two a try — we bet you’ll be surprised at just how much you can save by committing to the smallest changes.
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