Today the blog received an e-mail from Tracy, a customer who asked this: “Do you recommend shutting off the gas pilot on fireplaces during the summer? How much would this save on my gas bill?”
Let’s talk money first: will this save you money? Yes, because that appliance won’t be consuming gas while the pilot light is off. But it could cost you more this fall if you need to have a qualified contractor re-light it for you (more on that later).
A typical gas fireplace pilot light could use around 6.6 therms of natural gas in a month – that’s sitting idle, no usage for heat. So, if you multiply that number by your state’s natural gas rate you can calculate your costs (and potential cost savings). For example in Washington as of June 1, a therm is priced at $1.05260. So, 6.6 therms, multiplied by 1.05260, equals $6.95 per month. That amounts to around $0.23 per day over 30 days. See other state’s natural gas rates below.
To answer the first question – do we recommend this? It depends on your equipment and level of comfort in turning the fireplace pilot back on when you want to use it again.
If your fireplace has an automatic relight switch or button to relight it and you feel comfortable doing this, go for it. But some older fireplaces and many other appliances, like gas furnaces, water heaters and ranges should be relit only by a professional or someone comfortable and experienced in this area. You may need to contact a professional dealer to provide this service for you. While their costs vary, I would venture to guess it would wipe-out your $6.95 a month savings, even over the entire summer.
Do the math
Natural gas rates by therm, as of June 1, 2009: Multiply the number below by 6.6 therms to get your monthly cost to run an average natural gas pilot light on a fireplace.
WA: $1.05260, ID: $1.06112, OR: $1.37365
Tracy, thanks for asking this question – I’m sure you’re not the only customer wondering about this.