Minnesota winters can be harsh — remember the polar vortex of 2014? — and they can cause serious spikes in your gas bill. Of course, not every winter includes record-breaking wind chills like the -48 degrees Fahrenheit we experienced that January. But it can still be difficult to keep your home warm and cozy throughout the season without paying a price. So, what does it cost to heat a Minnesota home?
Unfortunately, there's not one straightforward answer, but here are a number of factors that play a big role in determining your gas bill.
The Efficiency of Your Furnace
All Minnesota homeowners want an efficient furnace that can pump hot air into their homes so it will save them money. But the efficiency of heating your home depends on more than just a good quality furnace. The type of fuel and design of the system play a big role, too.
If you don't have a very efficient furnace and you're not on the market for a new one, hire an HVAC tech to inspect, clean, and tune your existing system to ensure it's functioning as efficiently as possible. This is also good practice to maintain your system and potentially extend its life.
The Type of Fuel Your System Uses
Some heating fuels are more expensive than others, so if you have an option (when buying a home or replacing a system in a Minnesota home), you may want to avoid a system that uses the most expensive type of fuel.
Here is a list of fuels from the most expensive in Minnesota to the most affordable:
- Natural Gas
Remember, some "heating" methods are so inefficient they are not recommended. For example, attempting to heat an older home with an open fireplace allows more warm air from your home to escape than the warm air entering your home from the fire.
The Size of Your Home
OK, so there's no one size equals this amount paid for gas. In fact, costs vary wildly. A small apartment may cost just $50 per month to heat, but an average Minnesota home’s heating cost is closer to $200 per month and a large home could be more than $400 per month.
Your Thermostat Setting
How warm do you like your home? Do you maximize savings by reducing that setting when you’re away or sleeping? A programmable thermostat can help you save money because it adjusts the temperature for you automatically. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save 5%–15% each year on your heating bill. That saves you as much as 1% per degree if the setback period is eight hours long. The percentage of savings from setback is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates.
The Quality of Your Insulation
The quality of your home's insulation is another factor to consider when looking at your gas bill. If you have an older home, the insulation has likely compressed and decomposed over the years, leaving areas of your home susceptible to air leaks. Double check that your home's insulation is in good condition to keep the heated air in your home. If not, look into investing in new insulation. It's worth the investment.
While it is difficult to pinpoint what the average cost to heat a Minnesota home is, there are helpful heating cost calculators available online. Check out CenterPoint Energy's website for a Furnace Efficiency Calculator to compare fuels and models of systems.
We can all hope for a mild winter that doesn't spike our gas bill or leave us shivering under the blankets at night, but it's best to be prepared for whatever may come. Do what you can to manage your heating costs upfront, but remember that most utility companies have systems in place to assist you if you run into problems paying your bills.