Turn Off Your Furnace in the Summer Time Save Gas

In the warm months of summer you don’t use your furnace to heat your home. So why not shut it off? You may not think about it, but your furnace still consumes natural gas, propane, which ever you use, during the summer, even though you are not using your furnace at all. Your furnace will also consume electricity while not in use as well. There are some electronic valves and sensors that consume electric 24/7 on your furnace even when it is not being used!

Why Does My Furnace Consume Gas When Not In Use

Your pilot light is still burning gas. Your pilot light is a small flame that stays lit 24/7. This little flame is used to ignite the furnace’s burners which heat your home.

Now there are some furnaces on the market that use an electronic igniter instead of a gas pilot light. If your furnace uses an electronic igniter then this article may not save you much money.

Why Does My Furnace Consume Electricity When Not in Use

There are electronic valves that turn on and off your gas to your main burners and also to your pilot light. There is also a thermocouple that senses heat from pilot light. If your pilot light goes out, the thermocouple tells the electronics to shut off the gas to the pilot light so you are not filling the air with natural gas or propane. Each of these electronics are consuming electricity 24/7.

How Much Gas Does My Pilot Light Use

Your pilot light on your furnace or fireplace is a flame a little larger than what a candle would put out, but your pilot light is hotter. Your pilot light on your furnace or fireplace will consume 600 – 900 BTUs! Some would try to argue saying there is no way a pilot light consumes 600 – 900 BTUs, but it does.

How Much Money Does a Pilot Light Cost

This will depend on how much your pilot light consumes and how much you actually pay for your natural gas. This is usually printed on your gas bill. But on average 600 – 900 BTUs would cost you around $0.08 – $0.11/day. Which would be $2.44 – $3.35/month, or $29.22 – $40.18/year!

How Much Money Will I Save Turning Off Gas to Furnace

This depends on where you live. Here I could probably turn off the gas and electric to my furnace 6 months of the year. So I would save $14.61 – $20.09/year just by turning off the gas to my furnace during the summer months.

How Much Money Will I Save Turning Off Electric to Furnace

First if you are using central air conditioning system, you can not turn off your electric to your furnace as the air blower on the furnace is used to blow cold air through your home. For those of you that do not have central air, you can turn off your gas and electric to your furnace to save even more money! I’m not 100% sure on how much electricity is consumed by just the electronic valves, sensors, etc. in my furnace as I haven’t measured it yet, but with my electrical knowledge in circuits and such, I would have to guess around 10watts are being used for these devices 24/7. So shutting of the electricity to your furnace would save you an additional $4.39/year!

So saving gas and saving electricity by turning off your gas and electric to your furnace will save you a total of $44.57/year!


46 Responses to “Turn Off Your Furnace in the Summer Time Save Gas”

  1. Mike Says:

    Ummm no furnace manufacturer in about the last 25 years has a pilot light.

  2. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Mike,
    My furnace has a pilot light, my father’s furnace has a pilot light, my mother’s furnace has a pilot light (only 5 or 6 years old), my grandfathers furnace has a pilot light (about 12 – 14 years old), but his isn’t used as he has a wood furnace. I’m also sure there are many others out there with furnaces that still have a pilot light that could be turned off in the summer months.

  3. Leigh Says:

    Mike, I just bought a new home and thus learned more about furnaces than I ever learned renting. My furnace has a pilot light, as did the furnace in my last rental. It was obvious to me that I was wasting gas by keeping it running, so I found this article very helpful.

  4. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Leigh,
    Congrats on the new home, hope my website helps you save some money on your bills in your new home. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you more!

  5. Clnto Says:

    This article is ridiculous. Who in their right mind would give even the tiniest shit about bothering to save such an insignificant amount of money ….? Granted, money should not be squandered through willful ignorance, I’m just thinking if turning off meant real savings, in the hundreds say, THEN YOU’D BE TALKING, then and only then would you really have our attention. How am I meant to get excited by forty four bucks….?

  6. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Clnto,
    $44/year is not much, but to just throw $44/year away for no reason is wasting your money, as well as wasting gas. If you like send me your $44/year I’m sure I will find great use for it. There is a donate button on the site you can click and send me $44 every year! Just remember every little bit saved adds up. Look at home page of this website, from all of the little things I do around my home to save money and save the environment I’m saving a total of $2,111.53 every single year. I’m sure soon I’ll find some other things to save money and this will allow me to save even more money!

  7. Buffy Tolmie Says:

    If you can deal with the white gas, Coleman is the best. White gas (coleman fuel) works best in cold weather. Propane tanks lose pressure + put out less heat when used in cold weather. Coleman equipment should never die! There are repair parts available and repairs are simple. My oldest stove is at least 35 years old and still works and looks like new. I have a propane lantern, but it puts out less light than my “white Gas” lantern.

  8. Glen Brasch Says:

    We only use propane for our gas grill and that’s about $17 to fill

  9. jesse Says:

    cinto. aside from the cumulative drop in the bucket in your own home consider the effect on our need to import fuel if the entire city followed this method, or your state/province or the whole country.

    these are not such small numbers when put on that huge scale.

    by doing our part now our children can have a better chance when we are gone!

  10. mike Says:

    If you want to shut your pilot light off to save money,be prepared to fork it out for service calls. one- if you live in the northern states your furnace may be in a damp basement or crawl space.The heat from the pilot does wonders to keep the furnace dry and keep damp,dark loving insects out. Second, bugs are going to nest and lay eggs spider webs will clog, all living in that little tube called a thermo-couple. You will spand more replacing it than you save. Dont believe me,Ask a penny pincher who complains his thermo couple only last a year.

  11. Maria Says:

    Mike, I live in Ontario in a 110 yr old house with a cut limestone basement. A dehumidifier is essential in the summer. Turned off my pilot light for 1st time this summer.
    My house is actually a side by side duplex, I own both and live in one side. Both have identical furnaces and gas hot water tanks. The other side was vacant for month of Aug. So no gas being used except to heat water for hand washing as I was doing some renos and the 2 pilot lights. I get my bills for Aug. gas usage in vacant side with pilot lights on 53m3. Gas usage for occupied side with pilot off 17m3!
    Can’t figure this out, seems like way too much to blame on pilot light alone but if it is I saved $20 in one month.

  12. Bennie Says:

    I know the article is old, but it is still good to say that turning off the gas to the pilot is a good idea. You will save money in dollars, not cents. Add that saving to any other saving such as changing lighting from incandescent to compact fluorescent will give a significant savings in utilities each year. Your gas and electric bills (bill if combined)will go down in a very noticeable way. Regarding servicing, that should be done each year anyway before the winter months set in. Bottom-line; don’t let the naysayers stop you from savings significant dollars.

  13. Risto Says:

    There are two great reason to keep your pilot light on.
    1- The humidity in the basement will rust your plenum thats that big metal that transfers the heat to the rest of the house and in a few years you will have to replace it and the cost is higher that the pilot light.
    2- the pilot light stays on by keeping a thermocouple hot to generate the 30mv to keep the furnace on , by turning off the pilot light this thermocouple will form scale and depending on the humidity next winter you will not be able to keep the pilot light on because the thermocouple has too much oxidation.
    Also do not let the person cleaning your furnace take out the thermocouple and pull it to straighten it, this cracks the ground connection and the thermocouple stops working, so they say look it does not work it need a new one 14.95 plus 50 for labor.

  14. Norah Says:

    My husband just turned the on-off switch to off that controls our gas furnace as we have electric heat as well and we have switched to using that given the incredibly high gas rates this year. However, I am worried that he should have shut off the gas as well – not sure but I did read somewhere that you should turn some switch on the gas line when you turn off your furnace?

  15. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Norah,
    Yes, if you are not going to be using your furnace it is safer to turn the gas off to it as well. If you have a pilot it will stay on, using gas, if you do not then there should be no gas being used, but in general just safer too turn it off if not in use.

  16. Maura Says:

    Clnto, re-read the title of this article; it’s about saving gas – the “insignificant amount of money” saved by turning off your furnace is secondary – or as I see it, an added bonus. No matter how little or how much money is saved, why do you trash someone who is only trying to do something positive?

  17. lionel Says:

    I’ll give it a try although is almost September. I don’t have my furnace manual but doing a bit of research seems that the right sequence to turn the furnace OFF is:
    1.Set thermostat System Select Switch to OFF. 2.Turn electric power OFF (switch on the wall in my case). 3.Slide the furnace’s gas valve to OFF (mine is Honeywell). 4.Turn Manual shutoff gas valve to OFF position (90 degrees to gas line). And to turn the furnace ON then do it in reverse way, means first do step 4, then step 3 and so forth. My only concern is that when the time comes to turn the furnace on then if there may be a problem for the furnace’s ignitor to light the pilot flame after being off for the entire summer season.

  18. malcolm Says:

    my furnace has an electronic igniter instead of a gas pilot light thus I guess savings on gas via this article does not apply to me. In terms of saving on electricity I have set the thermostat to off during summer time, would it be better to also turn the furnace electrical switch to off? I don’t have central air con.

  19. Kerry Says:

    We live in Maine and turn off our furnace for the past two summers. Our hot water is heated through the furnace and if we leave it on, it runs on and off all day long to keep that water warm. The good news is that we have saved a LOT of money per month doing this AND when we need hot water (we are usually out of the house all day all summer anyway)it only takes 5 minutes to heat up. It is a ridiculous waste of money to leave a furnace on and for us, it was not an insignificant amount.

  20. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Lionel,
    Yes, that is your basic steps, although to lite your pilot you will do all that and then also have to push down the gas knob to allow gas to go out the pilot and then lite it, then hold for a little until the thermocouple gets hot then you can release and turn knob in the on position instead of ignite or lite.

    Some people will say yes, you will have problems, as spiders, dust, etc will get in your furnace when it’s not lit, and clog up things, get moisture, etc. I have never had an issue myself doing this. If you do have problems, I’m sorry. I just know that I have not had any problems, you may, you may not.

    Most furnaces have instructions on them on how to lite your pilot, just be sure to do them correctly so you dont get burned or blow your house up.

  21. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Malcolm,
    Correct, you will not save any gas by turning your furnace off if it has an electric igniter. I do not know 100% if your furnace will use any electric for any kind of sensors or anything while not in use. You can turn off it’s circuit breaker and will not harm anything. If you save a couple bucks a year, great, if not, it’s just a flip of the switch.

  22. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Kerry,
    Awesome! I’ve never seen a furnace that also heats your water. I’m not very current on some of the larger appliances today. I’m glad you save money doing this. Some people just don’t realize how much money is just wasted in every home. It wouldn’t bother me if it was being used, but being wasted shouldn’t be happening. I’d love to go into people’s homes and show them everything they are doing wrong and what they can do to save money and not be so wasteful. If they don’t care, hey give me or a charity the money you saved if you don’t want it!

    You will save more money by turning off your furnace more than others will as yours is your hot water tank as well. So you are basically turning off furnace and hot water tank.

    I want to write an article about heating water naturally and also tankless water heaters. Basically the natural heating runs hoses across a large open area, roof, or something similar and uses sun to heat all the long long hose and then return into the house. Similar to leaving water in a garden hose in sun then using it, it’s very hot! So hopefully I will get all my calculations and such done so I can write an article about that as well.

  23. Torie Says:

    Kerry,

    I would love to know more about your furnace that heats your water too. I’ve heard (mixed things) about hot water heaters that can heat homes but not the other way around.

    Thanks!

  24. Sid Says:

    My natural gas heater was off for the summer and of course I couldn’t light the pilot. I called for a service at $175/half hour charge.(criminal) I read up on thermocouples and found out that they won’t let gas through when they’re cold- so I turned the thermostat way down so it wouldn’t turn on and put a torch to the pilot and thermocouple. After a bit the gas flowed the pilot lit and I saved $175 minimum cause they told me it was a spider web in the line. A spider made a next in my pilot…not.

  25. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Sid,
    Correct on the thermocouple and how it works on a furnace. There is a “lite” mode on your furnace that allows gas to be let out the pilot while the thermocouple is cold. After a few minutes of the pilot lite being on the thermocouple heats up and then allows you to put your furnace back into normal operation mode. If thermocouple gets cold, it tells furnace to turn off gas because it “knows” there is no flame and just filling your home with gas. So it shuts it off so this doesn’t happen. Be sure to use the “lite” mode when igniting your pilot to avoid injury, explosions, etc.

  26. Zoe Says:

    Our efficient (most of the time) Mobile Coleman gas heater is doing something strange. It is very warm and the thermostat is turned OFF..as far off as possible, but the gas heater turns on about every five minutes and then immediately goes off. Seems to do this more when winds are high. Any ideas or suggestions. Please, please. ‘-)

  27. Pedrorl Says:

    Hi, reading this you can tell how stupid we can be. If some people don’t appreciate your tips fine you are not putting a gun to anybody’s head I leave my pilot light on all the time but from now on I will turn it off in the summer time the amount of money might be insignificant but it also saves the thermocouple fron being burned for no reason and then fail in a cold ass night when you cannot find an open hardware store to buy one. I just when 24 hours of 2 and 3 degree weather with no heat every technician that I called was too busy to come to my house that day they all said tomorrow, I did not clean my boiler properly and left the pilot on for 10 years I would just flip the switch on when the weather got cold that cost me $680.00 dollars to get the boiler cleaned and replace the thermocouple, damper and the sensor with the resistor on not sure how it’s called it is by the burners it’s a white ceramic ring with a resistor on it. The damn boiler was so dirty that the burner flames were shooting out and hitting the sensor burning it and preventing the the aqua stat from letting the boiler turn on I hope this helps someone that is doing what I did.

  28. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Zoe,
    Sounds like a bad thermostat.

  29. Terry Says:

    My gas furnace pilot light costs me at least $30 per month. I’ve never had a bill lower than $28 in seven years (it was only that low before Columbia Gas added money to the bill for another company to supply my gas, about which I have no choice). At $30 per month for the time I’m not using the furnace (about five months) costs me $150!

  30. Kate Says:

    Thanks so much for a great article! I have a DutchWest gas burning stove. The actual name on the manual is Direct Vent/Natural Vent Gas Heater Models: 2465/ 2466. I was so glad to read you’re article, and get the peace of mind of mind I was looking for, regarding turning off the pilot and the main gas valve to the unit. The pipe for my stove runs up through a chimney.
    I also turned the on/off rocker switch to off. It is located on the back. Is it necessary to do that? Just a curious question. What happens to the gas is left in the stove as well as the gas line?
    Thanks for your help.
    Kate

  31. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Terry,
    Your pilot on furnace should not cost you $30/mo! That’s way expensive.

  32. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Kate,
    The electrical switch can be turned off as well, it will not hurt anything, unless you use it for fan or air conditioning. The gas will sit in the lines until used, once you turn valves back on it will consume the gas left in the lines.

  33. Sharon Says:

    I have a dutchwest gas stove and used it for the first time last year. The cost/usage for the natural gas last season was surprising. I went from 400-500 CF’s and $20.00 (no gas stove) to using 14,600 CF’s and $163.36 during our coldest month in January 2015. This is heating a 1,300 sq ft home. How do I determine if this is normal or unusual, and is it the most efficient method of heating my home? I am repairing my old riteway model 37 wood stove (used for 20 years) to use this year as a few trees came down this year due to the rain, but I enjoy having heat with a flick of a switch – just don’t like how much fuel it seems to be wasting! Any ideas of how to determine my stove’s efficiency? Is there a formula? Thanks!

  34. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Sharon,
    I’m not sure how to determine if this is normal or not. It does seem a bit high, although I’m not sure where you live, you may have colder weather than Ohio.

  35. Jeff Says:

    I shut off the gas to my furnace every summer which saves us about $20/month ($120/season).

    My question is about the furnace electricity. When we shut the power off, the power to our Nest thermostat is obviously shut off too.

    Is it okay to keep the power to the furnace on so that we can continue to monitor the temperature in the house via our Nest thermostat?

    Thanks

    Jeff

  36. Rick Says:

    I have a wood stove and don’t use my gas furnace much anymore. Is it damaging to my furnace to never use it?
    Thanks

  37. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Jeff,
    Yes, you can leave the electric on, but isn’t the nest powered by battery? I don’t have one, nor have I researched them much.

    Wow, $20/month saved from just pilot flame? That is way too much, are you sure you don’t have a leak?

  38. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Rick,
    Yes and no, you can get corrosion from moisture, dirt, etc building up in an unused furnace. Do you still use it for the blower? I’ve seen many wood stoves connected to gas furnace and still use it to distribute heat. Therefore everything is still being used except the gas parts.

    If you’re not using it at all, I’d recommend using it at least a couple times a year just to make sure it is not getting too much dirt and such building up, plus you want to make sure everything is in working condition just in case something happens to your wood burner or wood supply.

  39. Diana Says:

    Hi,

    I live in southern CA and rent an apartment with a gas wall heater. I don’t use it as it hasn’t gotten cold enough for me to want to turn the heater on. With the pilot off is there any fire or CO2 dangers?

  40. Gary Says:

    I used a kil a watt meter to determine how much electricity my furnace was drawing. Only 2 W. In my humble opinion, 2 W is not enough to make a fuss about.

    However, I did turn my pilot light off and believe I will save $5-$8 per month due to that.

  41. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Diana,
    No, but I’d turn off the gas valve as well if you’re turning off your pilot, just in case, but there are safeties built in to prevent leaks.

  42. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Gary,
    2 watts is all your furnace was using? I’m assuming this was while it was idle?

  43. Jag Says:

    I recently bought a 25 yrs old house with two furnaces attached to each other with ducts – one furnace supplies heat to the basement and the other to the upper house. I turned off the two power switches on the wall each supplying electricity to the two furnaces this summer. There is also a dehumidifier in the house, (I don’t know the location of it). I am wondering, turning off the power to the furnaces wouldn’t also idle dehumidifier in the house? Since I turned off the power switches, I no longer hear the sound of blower in the furnaces and also the flow of air through the vents.

  44. Delicia Says:

    My gas burner switch has been off all summer, I tried turning the heat on with no response to the heat coming on. If i flip the switch on will the heat jump on?

  45. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Jag,
    If your dehumidifier is in your furnace or uses the furnaces blower to circulate the air then you need to leave it on, I’d suggest just turning off the gas to the furnace so you are not using gas, but still use the blower. Thanks for visiting!

  46. Go Green In Your Home Says:

    Delicia,
    I’m not sure what gas switch you are talking about. If you turned off the gas valve, you will need to relight your pilot if you have one, if it’s an electric igniter then it should turn back on if the gas and electric if on.

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