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5 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Costs Now

Cut energy usage, reduce your heating costs, and improve home comfort with these immediate steps

gas burners in furnace

[/media-credit] Gas burners blast into this furnace’s heat exchanger.

Home heating oil and natural gas prices are lower this year than prices we’ve seen since 2009, but heating fuels still take a big bite out of our budgets. According to Energy.gov, home heating fuel is typically about 42% of a home’s utility bill.

Pushing our houses toward energy efficiency with air sealing, insulation and energy-efficient appliances are the big-ticket answers. But what are a few easier ways to keep heating costs affordable?

Here are five helpful strategies you can jump on right now.

#1: Turn down the thermostat

Yes, this means that when you’re home, you may have to put on a sweater. But by turning down your thermostat 2 degrees, you can save about 6% on your energy bill. In other words, if your monthly energy bill is $300, you can save about $18.

When you’re asleep or away from home, the temperature can go even lower. A [easyazon_link identifier=”B0044UYVFW” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]programmable thermostat[/easyazon_link] will give you the necessary control. It can be programmed to turn the heat down to 61 degrees just before you go to bed, bring the heat back up to 68 degrees a few minutes before you get up in the morning, turn the heat back down when you leave for work and return it to a comfortable temperature just before you get home. According to Energy.gov, installing one of these will save an estimated 10 percent on heating and cooling cost.

Even better is a “smart” thermostat such as one made by [easyazon_link identifier=”B0131RG6VK” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]Nest[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link identifier=”B00ZIRV39M” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]ecobee3[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FLZEQH2″ locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]Honeywell[/easyazon_link]. Not only are these programmable, but they learn your habits and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly, and some can be operated via a mobile phone app.

#2: Use the sun’s warmth

Windows that face the sun can be effective solar collectors. Open curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day to warm interior surfaces. Then close all curtains at night to help keep the heat from escaping. Consider hanging [easyazon_link keywords=”thermal curtains” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]thermal curtains[/easyazon_link] for additional efficiency.

Though fences and trees that block the wind can help protect a house from heat loss during the winter, consider trimming trees or bushes that prevent the sun from reaching windows. Deciduous trees that lose their leaves during the winter are ideal because they allow the sun during winter but shade during the summer.

#3: Control where heat is delivered

Consider shutting off or reducing the heat to seldom-used rooms and closing the doors to them. Do not shut down a room where the thermostat is located—this would cause the heating system to stay on most of the time.

If your home is heated by a forced-air system, talk to an HVAC pro about whether it’s possible to close down the heating registers in unused rooms or adjust dampers in the ductwork to redirect heat to the rooms that require it. This should be done by an HVAC pro because heating systems are balanced, and too much “back pressure” caused by closing vents can cause the ductwork to leak and the furnace to work inefficiently.

Be sure the flow of heat from registers into rooms is not obstructed by furniture or drapes.

You can sometimes stay comfortable in individual rooms while turning down the central heating system’s thermostat if you utilize [easyazon_link identifier=”B000TTV2QS” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]space heaters[/easyazon_link] or wood- or [easyazon_link identifier=”B007LHGMTI” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]pellet-burning stoves[/easyazon_link] to keep the spaces cozy.

#4: Keep expensively heated air inside the house

Some homes never feel comfortable because the heat being produced inside escapes through the walls and attic. Air sealing, insulating and weatherstripping help solve these issues.

Be sure the fireplace damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use—an open chimney can suck a tremendous amount of expensively warmed air out of the house.

Additionally, minimize the use of ventilation fans, such as bath fans or kitchen fans, because they draw heated air out of the house. Be sure to shut them off as soon as they’ve done their job. A [easyazon_link identifier=”B00IB0ZJXE” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]timer switch[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B00LEZKFIW” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]occupancy sensor[/easyazon_link] makes this a no-brainer.

In many two-story houses, heat distributed downstairs rises to the second floor where it overheats the upstairs rooms. In a typical scenario, somebody downstairs turns up the heat, and then someone upstairs opens a window to provide cooling ventilation. The resulting “chimney effect” pulls more warm air upstairs and sends it out the window, causing a draft downstairs. This, of course, defeats efforts for conservation and comfort—and isn’t great for family relationships.

If possible, close doors between upstairs and downstairs to keep the warmed air from rising. Then try reducing the delivery of heat to the upstairs rooms (strategy #3, above). Ultimately, the best way to solve this is to install a zoned heating system that utilizes [easyazon_link identifier=”B0015S9GWE” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]automated dampers[/easyazon_link] to control the flow of heat.

Even in a single-level home, heat rises and collects at the ceiling. If your home has a reversible ceiling fan, set it to slowly spin in reverse to gently push warmed air back down into the room.

#5: Get the most out of your heating system

If your home is heated with a forced-air system, have the system serviced regularly. Clean filters or replace them every month or two.

Be sure air ducts are free from blockages and that they are properly sealed. A tremendous amount of heated air can be wasted if joints between heating ducts become disconnected. Also be sure that any ducts passing through unheated areas such as the crawlspace or attic are insulated.

If your home uses radiant heat, be sure radiators are clean and unobstructed.

Hot-water radiators should be cleared of trapped air once or twice each season. Unless you know how to do this yourself, hire a pro.

To improve efficiency of a radiator, you can place a [easyazon_link identifier=”B008GYPT6C” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]heat-resistant reflector[/easyazon_link] between the radiator and an exterior wall. These are available online or at home improvement centers.

If your home is heated by electricity, be aware that many electrical utilities have “tiered” billing. With this, the more electrical power you use, the more you pay per kilowatt of usage. If you reduce overall electrical usage, your costs will stay in the lower billing tiers.

A final word: These strategies are just first steps toward energy efficiency, but they are relatively easy and affordable ways to keep your home warm and comfortable.

This article, written by HomeTips’s Don Vandervort, originally appeared at US News.com. 

 

5 Home Projects To Do Before Cold Weather Arrives

With fall right around the corner, it’s time to complete a few home projects that are best handled before the weather turns cold and the days grow short—most notably buttoning up your house and getting its heating system working comfortably and efficiently.

cutting foam window weatherstripping

[/media-credit] Adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping is easy to cut with a sharp knife.

Don’t wait too long. When cold weather and short days arrive, you won’t want to discover cold air blowing in through your windows—or out of your heating system.

Nothing instills a sense of urgency like cold drafts or a broken furnace—but that urgency can be expensive and uncomfortable—in fact, an unheated house can be downright deadly in the wrong situation. The longer you wait, the more likely contractors or other service people will be overbooked and will charge a premium for their services.

So here are five things you should handle now, before the weather turns cold.

 

1: Get the heating system in order. A good place to start is your thermostat. Set it to “Heat,” and turn it up to about 5 degrees warmer than room temperature. If the heat doesn’t go on and stay on until the room reaches the set temperature, either the thermostat or the heating system has a problem.

replace and put date on new furnace filter

[/media-credit] Mark the date on the filter’s frame so you’ll know when it’s time to change it. Note: Be sure the “air flow” arrow is pointing in the right direction.

Replace the thermostat’s batteries first, and then try again. If you suspect that the thermostat may be defective, this is a good time to replace it with a new programmable model that can reduce your energy costs. If you know that the thermostat is functional, or replacing it doesn’t do the job, call an HVAC professional to check and service the heating system.

Be sure to change the air filters, which are typically located in the furnace’s air handler or inside the return-air registers in the rooms. If you’re having a pro work on the system, he or she should do this. Clean filters don’t just mean cleaner air—they also help the system work more efficiently.

When checking on the delivery of warmed air through the registers, make sure dampers or registers were not closed for the summer and that heated air can flow freely into rooms.

If your home’s heating system is powered by fuel that is stored on the premises, such as propane or fuel oil, be sure you have enough fuel for the next month or two.

 

2: Prepare the fireplace. If your home has a wood-burning fireplace that you intend to use regularly, stock-up on firewood and make sure the wood is protected from rain.

Next inspect the fireplace. Shine a flashlight up into the chimney from inside the fireplace. Make sure the damper works, and then open it. Check to be sure birds or rodents haven’t nested in the chimney. Inspect the chimney walls. If they are coated with creosote, a sap-like material that builds-up on surfaces, have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep—creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney fire. Also look for any missing bricks, crumbling mortar or broken chimney flue tiles that need to be fixed.

 

foam pipe insulation

[/media-credit] Foam pipe insulation can help quiet some noisy pipes.

3: Protect water pipes. If you live where outdoor temperatures can drop below freezing, protect water pipes that run through unheated spaces, such as an attic or crawlspace. To do this, you can buy inexpensive foam pipe insulation sleeves at a home improvement center. These are sliced along their lengths so you can just push them onto pipes. While you’re in the plumbing department of the home improvement center, also buy an inexpensive emergency pipe repair clamp to keep on hand just in case a water pipe bursts.

 

4: Stop drafts. Windows and doors should be weather-stripped to prevent drafts and energy loss. To weather-strip windows and doors, you need to keep them open for a while, so it’s best to do this work before the weather gets too cold. If some of your windows and doors are not protected by weather-stripping, now is the time to seal them up. Buy inexpensive vinyl or foam weather-stripping and apply it according to the label directions.

Storm windows and doors can help with minimizing energy loss, too. If you have the kind of screen-and-storm doors that utilize interchangeable screen and glass panels, switch out screens for glass. Before you install the panels, check and tighten the clips that secure them. Also check and, if necessary, adjust the storm door closer so that it pulls the storm door tightly closed without banging it.

 

5: Flush the water heater. When the weather gets cold, so does the water that travels through outdoor pipes to supply your water heater. As a result, the water heater has to work longer to heat that very cold water. So water heater efficiency becomes really important.

The best way to keep a water heater working efficiently is to flush it once or twice a year. Mineral deposits build up over time and coat the bottom of the tank, reducing the efficient transfer of heat from the burners at the base. Flushing out some of the water helps remove these deposits.

water heater drain valve

[/media-credit] Water Heater Drain Valve

To flush a water heater, turn off the heat, either at the gas valve of a gas water heater or by shutting off an electric water heater’s electrical power. Then turn off the valve at the cold-water inlet pipe, usually right above the water heater. Locate the faucet-like drain valve in the side of the water heater at its base, attach a garden hose to it and run the end of the hose outdoors, terminating at a point that’s lower than the water heater. Turn on a nearby hot water faucet to allow air into the plumbing system, and then open the water heater’s drain valve to flush sediment out through the hose. Drain about 3 or 4 gallons of hot water until it becomes visibly clear, and then close the valve.

Reverse this process to refill and reheat the water heater. In other words, disconnect the hose, turn off the nearby hot water faucet, turn on the water supply to the water heater and wait a few minutes for the water heater to refill. Then, for an electric water heater, turn the power back on, or for a gas water heater, turn on the gas and, unless it is a pilotless model, relight the pilot light.

This article, written by HomeTips’s Don Vandervort, was originally posted by US News.com

Maintenance Checklist for Central Heating Systems

You wouldn’t set off on a long road trip without checking your car’s engine oil and the air pressure in all four tires. It’s a good idea to put the same maintenance instinct into practice before you put your home’s heating system to work for the cold season.

[media-credit name=”Lennox” align=”alignleft” width=”765″]furnace maintenance checklist[/media-credit]

 

The systems that many of us rely on for heating our homes are extremely dependable, but like all mechanical equipment, they need attention from time to time. A certified professional should inspect your HVAC system at least once a year. Routine inspections will enable you to spot emerging problems before they develop into full-blown emergencies, and regular cleaning of key components will keep systems running efficiently and maintain indoor air quality.

Depending on the specific type of system in a home (heat pumps, forced-air and hydronic systems are the most common), recommended maintenance procedures vary. However, for maximum performance, you should get at least two maintenance visits per year no matter what type of system you have.

Here we’ll give the basics for forced-air furnaces and hydronic systems:

  • Forced-air systems (heat moves through ducts) heated with either a gas- or oil-fired furnace
  • Hydronic systems (heat moves through radiators) heated with either a gas- or oil-fired boiler

Seasonal maintenance is a necessity for keeping up your heating and cooling system, and outside of changing your air filter, it’s best done by a licensed contractor and backed by a warranty. Don’t attempt to make major repairs to your system unless you’re a trained professional or an experienced do-it-yourselfer—you could harm yourself or do further damage to your equipment. If you’re capable of doing your own repairs, refer to HomeTips’ Furnace Troubleshooting & Repairs article.

The following will help you understand the steps a licensed contractor will take to maintain your system, starting with the thermostat and continuing through your delivery system (ducts) and to your outside unit, if applicable.

Thermostat Care

No matter which type of system you need to maintain, it’s a good idea to start your maintenance checkup at the thermostat.

Before the heating or cooling season starts, turn up the thermostat that controls the system. If you hear the furnace go on and it continues to run, your system is functioning. However, if the furnace turns off after a short time—less than three minutes—it’s a symptom of short cycling, which can be caused by one of two things:

  1. The thermostat may not be adjusted properly, which means it needs to be recalibrated or replaced.
  2. The heat exchanger in the furnace is overheating, and a safety device is shutting it down.

If the system seems to be short cycling, call a professional for further analysis.

  • If the furnace or boiler burners ignite when you turn up the thermostat, check the quality of the flames for shape and color. The flames should be tight ovals and solid blue. If you see flickering and tinges of yellow, call a technician to adjust the fuel/air mix.
residential heating system

Forced-Air Systems

Whether a forced-air heating system is powered by a gas, oil or electric furnace, it’s important to keep the airways clean for the sake of efficiency and the best possible indoor air quality.

  • Check the filter(s) once a month and replace as necessary. Homes with pets or residents with asthma should check even more frequently. A rule of thumb is to check every month and change at least every three.
  • Have ductwork checked at least once a year for open joints, dust buildup, mold and rust. Open joints should be resealed with duct tape. Corroded ducts will be repaired or replaced.
  • Clean ductwork and registers as needed. Where there are no obvious problems, having ducts cleaned by a professional once every three years may be adequate. In dusty environments or those where occupants have pets or suffer from allergies, more frequent cleaning may prove beneficial.
  • Clean dust and soot from the furnace combustion chamber. Your technician will check this chamber as part of their periodic checkup. He’ll ensure that electricity and gas to the unit is turned off, and after inspecting the chamber, he’ll clean it.
  • Clean the blower. This is a procedure in which the HVAC technician will vacuum out the area where the blower is housed.
  • Inspect the blower belt (if present). Many furnaces have direct-drive blowers, but if your technician encounters a drive belt as they clean, he will inspect it for proper tension and overall condition.

For Oil-Fired Furnaces and Boilers…

These procedures require turning off your gas supply before beginning work, and should only be conducted by a licensed and trained heating and cooling service professional.

  • Have the oil filter changed. Once a year, buy a replacement oil filter that’s identical to the one in place. With the fuel supply turned off, the old filter can be unscrewed and the new one installed. Be sure the old filter is disposed of in a way that complies with the hazardous waste rules in your area.
  • Get the oil nozzle replaced. The nozzle atomizes fuel oil before it ignites. Nozzles tend to get clogged with buildup from impurities in the fuel. When your technician suggests this replacement, don’t assume that you need to replace the existing nozzle with one just like it. It’s not uncommon that someone servicing the unit before you may have installed a nozzle with an incorrect flow rate and angle—that’s part of the reason to choose a contractor backed by a warranty and a reputation you can trust!

Hydronic Heating Systems

[media-credit name=”EPA.gov” align=”alignleft” width=”300″]hydronic heating system[/media-credit]

Hydronic (hot water) heating systems have a boiler rather than a furnace at their heart. No two hydronic systems are put together in quite the same way, and all rely on an assortment of manual and automatic valves to let water into and out of the system, and distribute it to radiators (baseboard heaters in modern systems).

While some homeowners may be able to do some light maintenance themselves, many of the recommendations here involve checking to make sure the system is operating at a specified temperature and pressure. If it’s not, we recommend calling a trained technician to diagnose and repair any problems.

Before the heating season starts:

 

  • Check for standing water. Turn up the thermostat, let temperature and pressure build up in the system, and go down to the boiler room to check all of the pipes and valves you can see for leaks. If you find a leak, call a professional. Most leaks can be stopped by tightening fittings, but if the technician needs to replace any pipes or valves, he or she will turn off the water supply and power to the boiler, and drain the system. (See “Drain and flush the system” checkpoint below)

Attention – If you are not a licensed and trained heating and cooling service provider. The following procedures should be conducted by a professional:

  • Have water temperature and pressure checked. Once the system has been running for an hour or so, have the temperature and pressure gauge checked. The water temperature should be within the range of 180⁰F and 200⁰F. Pressure within the system should be between 12 PSI and 25 PSI—for a two-story house, 18 PSI is all that’s needed. If the temperature or pressure measurement falls outside these specified ranges, consult a technician.
  • Have the circulating pump lubricated. If it has lubrication cups, a few drops of 3-in-1 oil will be squirted into them.
  • Clean soot from the inside of the boiler’s combustion chamber. This periodic checkup is part of your technician’s regular maintenance and is similar to cleaning the chamber in a forced-air system, including cleaning with a wire brush and vacuuming.
  • Dust radiator surfaces and straighten fins on baseboard heaters. All that’s needed is a vacuum. If fins are badly bent, a professional may use a fin comb to straighten them.
  • Get air purged from the radiators. The bleeder valve on each baseboard run or radiator will be opened. The valve will be left open until water begins to trickle out, then it will be closed.
  • Drain and flush the system. Most experts recommend having a professional do this once every five years at minimum.

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These tips are meant to provide background and insight for you. Use this background knowledge when discussing the needed work with trained professionals, and you’re sure to get quality work that meets the needs of your home’s heating system.

Michael Chotiner writes about maintenance and repair for heating and cooling systems for The Home Depot. Michael has many years of experience as a residential general contractor. For HVAC solutions available at Home Depot, you can visit http://www.homedepot.com/services/hvac-installation/.

How to Buy a Furnace

An aging furnace should be inspected to ensure that it is safe to operate.

[/media-credit] An aging furnace should be inspected to ensure that it is safe to operate.

Expert advice on how to evaluate your current heating system, and how to shop for a new furnace.

Need Help NOW? Get a Local Heating Pro Fast!

Is it time to buy a new furnace? Your answer may be a resounding, “Yes!” Or you may not be sure. If your furnace has stopped working entirely and you know for a fact that the cause isn’t something simple like a thermostat setting or a circuit breaker that has flipped, now may be the time. But, often, the problem may not be so apparent—it may be more an issue of aging equipment.

Don’t wait until your furnace fails to start shopping for a new one. Your furnace won’t stop working in the middle of summer, when it’s never running. It’s far more likely that it will fail when it’s under the heavy strain of winter cold—just when you need it the most.

Sure, furnaces last a long time, typically from 16 to 20 years. But they don’t work forever. As they age, they may make noises and show signs of wear and tear, but when they stop working, the result usually means your household is going to get very cold. And it can easily take longer than a week to get a new unit installed.

All of this is to say that you need to be proactive if you have an aging furnace. Get it inspected by a qualified furnace technician.[GARD align=”left”]

The possibility that your old furnace may fail isn’t the only reason to replace your present system. Older furnaces are very inefficient at converting energy to heat. As discussed in the article, Buying a High-Efficiency Furnace, you can save 20% or more of every energy dollar by converting to a high-efficiency furnace.

How Old Is Your Furnace?

Just how old is your furnace? If you’re not sure about its age, here are a couple of techniques you can use to date it:

1)   Look for a pilot light. High-efficiency furnaces utilize electronic ignition, and have been around for more than 20 years. If your furnace has a pilot light, it’s probably over the hill.

2)   Look up the make and model on the Internet. You can usually determine its age by searching the make and model on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

 

Typical Problems of An Aging Furnace

Like a car, a furnace can rack up thousands of hours over the years. The more it runs, the more its parts wear out. If, for no other reason, the cost of maintaining your furnace becomes too time consuming and expensive, it’s time to trade it in for a new one. And, the older a furnace gets, the harder it is to find replacement parts—a reality that increases the cost and wait time for repairs.

Then again, your furnace’s problems may not be obvious. It may have issues that take a little detective work to track down—this is where the need for a pro comes in. For example, its combustion system may be breaking down. If the furnace’s flame is yellow or flickering, the furnace may be suffering from poor combustion. Household signs of this include:

Sometimes it's difficult to tell whether a furnace is over-the-hill. If it has a pilot light, it's probably time for a new one.

[/media-credit] Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a furnace is over-the-hill. If it has a pilot light, it’s probably time for a new one.

• Soot streaks around the furnace cabinet

• Excessive moisture condensation on windows and cold surfaces

• Signs of moisture on metal flues and pipes

• Moisture at the base of vents or flues

Far worse is a furnace that has a deteriorating heat exchanger. After many years of use, a furnace can develop cracks in its heat exchanger—a seriously dangerous problem. A leaky heat exchanger can allow toxic carbon monoxide into your home, tainting the air that your family breathes.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, disorientation, burning eyes, and flu-like symptoms. If you experience these types of symptoms, ventilate your home, and install a carbon monoxide detector near the furnace. If it detects elevated carbon monoxide levels, call an HVAC contractor and, if necessary, replace your furnace.

Finding a Furnace Dealer

If you decide it is time to update your heating equipment, your next step is to find a dealer and zero-in on the particular furnace to buy. Choosing the right furnace dealer is very important. Sure, you want a reputable brand of furnace. But most major manufacturers of heating equipment—Bryant, Carrier, Day & Night, Lennox and similar top-rated companies—make high quality products. More important is the company that installs your system. If something goes wrong with your furnace, you’ll be contacting the dealer for support, not the manufacturer. Of course, a solid warranty is imperative.

How do you find a dealer? A good place to start is the free online service, Home Advisor. They will put you in touch with local, pre-approved contractors who will be happy to give you a free estimate. Here is a link: Local Heating Contractors.

Businesses that advertise in the Yellow Pages or the local newspapers are not necessarily the best—a business’s advertising budget usually has very little to do with its competence. Referrals from neighbors, friends, or family, on the other hand, can be very helpful. If someone you know was treated fairly and had a good overall experience, the chances are better that you’ll get the same treatment.

Ideally, you should settle on three potential dealers, and then determine which of these is right for the job, based on interviews at your home, their bids, and their references.

To check out a business you’re considering, you can contact the Better Business Bureau or contact the Air Conditioning Contractors of America at www.acca.org.

Pick a dealer who has been in business for a while. Furnace companies tend to be short-lived. Those that have been in business for more than 5 years have built a reputation in their communities and must work to maintain their businesses. These are the companies that are most likely to still be in business when your furnace warranty is nearing the end of its term. And they are the businesses that are most likely to stand behind their work.

Interviewing Furnace Dealers

When you interview potential dealers, get answers to a number of questions. For starters, be sure the business operates legitimately. They should be licensed to install equipment in your community, and their policy should be to pull permits for all work that requires them. When a permit is filed with the local building department, an inspector will make sure all work has been done to code.[GARD align=”left”]

Ask about the company’s service policies and hours. If your furnace goes out in the middle of the night during a blizzard, you’re going to want to be able to get service. You’ll also want to have a clear idea of how soon they would be installing your equipment.

When a representative comes to your home, pay attention to what they do. If they focus primarily on getting you to sign a contract, be wary. They should interview you about your wants and needs, and they should be work up some basic heating calculations based on your home’s square footage, insulation, windows, etc. This can take an hour or more. They should discuss the kind of system you have in mind, and offer you advice about other upgrades and improvements you may want to consider. They should give you an idea of how long your installation would take, and when it would begin, as well as the identity and qualifications of the person who would be working in your home.

Sealing the Deal

Based upon your interviews, choose a dealer and sign an agreement. The agreement should detail the model numbers and specifications of all the major equipment being installed, as well as the final price and the terms of payment. The final payment should not be made until after inspection and approval. In addition, the agreement should include the terms of the warranty.

Be aware that many established companies offer financing that is available through the manufacturers they distribute. In some cases, these loan programs may be better than offerings from banks—so they’re worth considering.

Featured Resource: Get a Pre-Screened Local Heating Contractor

Call for free estimates from local pros now:
1-866-342-3263

Gravity Furnaces & Steam Boilers

If you have an old gravity furnace or steam boiler, it’s time to replace these energy guzzlers.

Need Help NOW? Get a Local Heating Pro Fast!

If you have an old monster-sized furnace in the basement with huge ducts that snake off in various directions, your home may be heated by a gravity furnace. Gravity furnaces were installed in homes at the turn of the 20th century and well into the 1940s. Depending upon locally available fuels, they may burn coal, wood, oil, or natural gas.

An old gravity system is different than a forced-air system precisely because it doesn’t “force” air. Instead of utilizing a blower to push heated air into rooms, a gravity furnace allows the heated air to rise by natural convection through large ducts into rooms.[GARD align=”left”]

Because it doesn’t have a blower, a gravity furnace is quieter than a forced-air furnace and doesn’t stir up dust and allergens by blowing air—but that’s where the benefits end. Though these big monstrosities do a pretty good job of heating, they waste a tremendous amount of energy compared to today’s high-efficiency furnaces. Not only do they send about 50 percent of the heat straight up their flues, but the heated air also takes longer to reach distant rooms.

Because asbestos was commonly used for fireproofing and insulating these furnaces and their ducts, the chances are good that an old gravity system presents an asbestos hazard. This white, fibrous wrap is a known carcinogen that can cause asbestosis when airborne. It should not be disturbed other than by a certified asbestos abatement company.

Steam Boiler

If you intend to be in your home for more than a couple of years and your budget will allow, it would likely pay to replace your outdated gravity furnace with a new, high-efficiency furnace. Doing so will probably reduce your heating bills by half. But be advised that this is a big job that requires complete removal and replacement of the old system, usually including the duct work, patching floors, installing new registers, and more.[GARD align=”right”]

Perhaps even more antiquated than gravity heaters are steam boiler heating systems. Steam boiler systems utilize radiators to heat air and provide radiant warmth. A steam-rated gas or oil boiler produces steam, which moves through insulated pipes to room radiators. As the steam gives off its heat, it vaporizes and drains back to the boiler, where it’s reheated, and the cycle begins all over again.

Again, if you intend on staying in your home for at least a couple of years, replacing your steam boiler heating system with a high-efficiency furnace is a wise investment.

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Furnace & Heating Contractor

Call for free estimates from pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Gravity Furnaces & Steam Boilers

If you have an old gravity furnace or steam boiler, it’s time to replace these energy guzzlers.

Need Help NOW? Get a Local Heating Pro Fast!

If you have an old monster-sized furnace in the basement with huge ducts that snake off in various directions, your home may be heated by a gravity furnace. Gravity furnaces were installed in homes at the turn of the 20th century and well into the 1940s. Depending upon locally available fuels, they may burn coal, wood, oil, or natural gas.

An old gravity system is different than a forced-air system precisely because it doesn’t “force” air. Instead of utilizing a blower to push heated air into rooms, a gravity furnace allows the heated air to rise by natural convection through large ducts into rooms.[GARD align=”left”]

Because it doesn’t have a blower, a gravity furnace is quieter than a forced-air furnace and doesn’t stir up dust and allergens by blowing air—but that’s where the benefits end. Though these big monstrosities do a pretty good job of heating, they waste a tremendous amount of energy compared to today’s high-efficiency furnaces. Not only do they send about 50 percent of the heat straight up their flues, but the heated air also takes longer to reach distant rooms.

Because asbestos was commonly used for fireproofing and insulating these furnaces and their ducts, the chances are good that an old gravity system presents an asbestos hazard. This white, fibrous wrap is a known carcinogen that can cause asbestosis when airborne. It should not be disturbed other than by a certified asbestos abatement company.

Steam Boiler

If you intend to be in your home for more than a couple of years and your budget will allow, it would likely pay to replace your outdated gravity furnace with a new, high-efficiency furnace. Doing so will probably reduce your heating bills by half. But be advised that this is a big job that requires complete removal and replacement of the old system, usually including the duct work, patching floors, installing new registers, and more.[GARD align=”right”]

Perhaps even more antiquated than gravity heaters are steam boiler heating systems. Steam boiler systems utilize radiators to heat air and provide radiant warmth. A steam-rated gas or oil boiler produces steam, which moves through insulated pipes to room radiators. As the steam gives off its heat, it vaporizes and drains back to the boiler, where it’s reheated, and the cycle begins all over again.

Again, if you intend on staying in your home for at least a couple of years, replacing your steam boiler heating system with a high-efficiency furnace is a wise investment.

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