Heating a home is the largest energy expense in most homes, and it accounts for two-thirds of annual energy bills in cold climates. Experts are predicting the cost of heating your home, both with electricity and natural gas, to rise again just as it did this past winter. In anticipation of this, even if your older furnace runs, from an economic standpoint it would be wise to replace it. If your furnace is in good shape there are some tips that might help you save some extra money on your utility bills.
Below are some tips for buying a new furnace/boiler as well as tips to help lower your monthly heating bills.
Tips for Buying a New Furnace/Boiler
If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest efficiency system available. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90%-95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for dependability. Buy a system with a good warranty and a reputable company to back it up.
When buying gas and oil systems, specify sealed combustion. Sealed-combustion appliances bring outside air directly into the burner and exhaust flue gases (combustion products) directly to the outside, without the need for a draft hood or damper. They generally burn more efficiently and pose no risk of introducing dangerous combustion gases into your house. With nonsealed-combustion appliances, back-drafting of combustion gases can be a big problem, especially in tightly-sealed modern homes.
Tips for Lowering Your Monthly Utility Bill
- Set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable.
- Keep the temperature fairly constant. Frequent temperature changes cause the unit to cycle on and off and utilize more energy. Setting back the temperature at night, however, is recommended.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
- Oil-fired boilers and gas-fire equipment should be professionally cleaned and tuned once a year.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
- Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely; in just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
- Keep draperies and shades open on south-facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
- Do not use duct tape to repair leaky ducts. Standard duct tape has been shown unreliable in sealing duct leaks. Various mastics or non-cloth-backed tapes are preferable. Contact a professional to help with any duct issues.