Have you just filled up your oil tank recently, or checked your latest gas bill this winter?  Like me, your jaw probably dropped when you saw the price.  The price of fuel to heat your home has risen exponentially this year and taken a toll on us all.  So what can you do? There must be a way to make that gallon of home heating oil last longer then it currently does.  Well fortunately, there are some things that you can do in your home that do not require much time or upfront cost.  Here are a few tips.

First, I would start by updating the thermostat in your home.  Some older style thermostats actually use a small mercury ball to measure the indoor temperature in the room.  Kind of a scary thought.  Updating to a digital thermostat or even a “Smart” thermostat is a great low cost option to help lower your annual fuel costs.   Digital thermostats often are more accurate and have options to set a schedule in your home.  I find A lot of customers of mine do not like the heat to be set so high over night while they sleep, or during the time that they leave the house to go to work.  A digital thermostat will give them an option to automatically turn the temperature down at selected times.  A “smart” thermostat, depending on which brand, can even adjust and learn your schedule or sense when you are home to turn the heat on and off accordingly.

Another thing you can look for are the condition of your baseboard heaters.  More often then not, when I get a complaint from a customer that the heat just does not seem to be keeping up, I find at least one of three things before I even make it to the boiler room.  Couches and furniture pushed right up against the baseboard.  Baseboards actually work by drawing the cold air in the room from the floor, then producing warmer air out of the upper openings.  Furniture has to be at least 18 inches away from the baseboard in order for it to work properly.  Also, if you have rugs in your home, make sure the rugs do not come up too high and block the pathway for air to move.  Something else that every home owner should be periodically checking is the condition of the metal fins of the baseboard.  The metal fins that sit behind the cover love to attract dust and pet hair.  A quick run of the vacuum will unclog that pathway that air wants to take and actually help produce more heat.   These are three quick things to check that do not even require a call to a plumbing and heating contractor!  In some cases you might notice that the metal fins are crushed and warped or even missing due to age or past leak repairs.  If you notice this in your home, it may be a better option to consider replacing with new High Efficiency baseboard heaters.

Lastly, to seriously cut your fuel costs, you can consider installing an “Outdoor Reset Control” to your current equipment.  If your home uses a boiler to heat your home, (you have either baseboard heaters or radiators, or possibly even radiantly heated floors), installing these features can see fuel savings of up to 30%.  That’s huge!  So what is an “Outdoor Reset Control”?  It is a control strategy that adjusts the heat output of your boiler based on the current outdoor temperature.  In a nut shell, as it is now, your heating equipment is (or should be if installed properly) designed to be able to heat your home on the coldest day of the year.  For those of us living on Long Island N.Y., that coldest day of the year is about 15 degrees.  At 15 degrees, your equipment is putting out 100% capacity.  But what about when it is only 40 degrees outside.  It is still putting out 100% capacity.  That is a waste of fuel!  An “Outdoor Reset Control” would reduce the output of your equipment to match the outside temperature and still keep you warm.  A good analogy that was taught to me is to think of it as your car.  While driving your car on main street, if you hit a stop sign or a red light every 20 feet, you will use more gas.  The goal is to get on the expressway (not during rush hour of course) so that you can just coast leisurely at a steady 55MPH.  That is what we want to do with your heating equipment.  We want it to leisurely produce heat at a steady rate, as apposed to turning on then off constantly for short periods of time.

If you would like an assessment of your current heating equipment, please feel free to call today to see how you can reduce your fuel bills.