Energy Conservation at Home
Thirty years ago the average heating oil consumer used approximately 1,200 gallons per year. Today, that same consumer uses 700 gallons.
No other energy source has reduced per-consumer consumption as successfully as oil heat.
The oil heat industry has brought new, improved technologies to the marketplace that enable today’s consumer to be just as warm and comfortable as ever while using 41% less fuel.
Here’s some handy information that can help everyone with energy conservation. Some of these things are really basic, and really don’t cost a dime! Others may require some expert assistance. We suggest you read this information carefully and plan to spend a full day or two to go through your home taking a look at each one of these areas we have identified below.
Your local full-service heating oil retailer or HVAC contractor may be certified to perform a whole-home energy audit. As part of this audit and during an annual tune-up visit, your system will be cleaned of energy-robbing carbon build-up and optimized with our state of the art digital flue gas analyzer system. Ask your licensed professional heating oil technician for your “Oilheat System Report Card” today! You can get first-hand advice from a professional about how your heating system can be operated at peak efficiency, reducing your energy costs.
Connecticut legislation enacted in August, 2008 requires the Office of Policy & Management (OPM) to establish a program to subsidize energy audits conducted by “qualified oil dealers”. The program must cover the balance of the cost of audits conducted from September 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 that show they provided an energy audit to a residential customer and collected a $75 fee from the customer for the audit. The bill appropriates $7 million to pay for the balance of the audit that exceeds $75.
This website contains a wealth of good information about what consumers can do in advance of a professionally-conducted home energy audit. Consumers may click on the logo at left and visit the Oilheat America website and tour a virtual home for what to look for and ask their professional energy auditor about.
Insulating ceilings, attics, and walls will save a bundle. It’s an inexpensive way to save a lot of money fast. You can insulate older homes as well. Blown-in insulation can be used to access hard to reach areas. Also be sure to check your existing insulation to make sure it is covering all exposed areas. Over the years insulation in attics can be disturbed or removed. How much insulation do you need? It’s best to ask an expert, but in our experience it’s as much as you can fit. More information is available here.
Go to http://www.oilheatamerica.com/index.mv?screen=interactivehouse and use the interactive home to see where you can save money on home energy costs through using common sense conservation measures.
New Roofing & Siding
New siding itself isn’t really a big energy saver, but it’s what’s underneath that really counts. New siding is often installed over a wind-barrier (Tyvek) and often with a layer of dense foam insulation. This combination is dynamite for sealing out drafts and adding an extra layer of insulation where you need it most. It’s like dressing your home “in layers”. Here is an informative link explaining ways to save with new roofing and siding.
New Windows and Doors
Old windows and doors are one of the most common causes of significant heat loss. Old-fashion non-thermal pane windows can rob you of 20% of your heat! Poor weather stripping is also a primary cause of high infiltration losses. This is the type of heat loss caused by cold drafts that blow right through cracks in your home. How significant is this? It could be robbing you of 15% or more! Here is a link with terrific information about energy saving window technologies.
New Window Treatments
Some types of window treatments can provide significant insulation and protection from drafts. Here is a useful link.
A modern paddle-type ceiling fan is a wonderful year-round energy saver. In the winter it will pull the warm air that accumulates at the ceiling and re-circulate it around the room, causing a convection current. In the summer, you can save energy with a ceiling fan by running your air conditioning at a higher temperature. A ceiling fan creates a very simple but effective evaporative cooling system.
- Feel for air leaks around windows, doors and electrical outlets. Repair weather-stripping and caulk leaks. (Don’t caulk around storm windows because that can hold in moisture and cause damage to the wood frame).
- Seal up cracks in your home’s foundation.
- Replace cracked glass.
- Seal off your attic circulating fan with polyethylene and tape.
- Make sure you have at least 6″ of good thermal insulation in your ceiling.
- Keep your kitchen vents closed when not in use.
- Keep closet doors closed.
- Remove air conditioning window units or cover them well.
- Use storm windows and doors and make sure they fit tightly.
- If you don’t have storm windows, cover the outside glass with polyethylene sheets.
Common Sense and Lifestyle Items
You’ll save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat full time. (Turn it back 10 degrees when you go to work and again when you go to bed, and you can save about 14% on your heating bill.) The best way to do this is with a good clock thermostat. Put on a few extra blankets at night and turn down the temperature 10°. In Europe it is not uncommon for folks to turn down their heat to as low as 45° F at night! You may actually feel a lot better in the morning due to the increased humidity at a lower temperature.
Take Advantage of “Cheap Solar Heat”
On the side of your home that is exposed to the sun during the day, keep the windows treatments and drapery open to let as much sun shine in as possible. This is what’s referred to as passive solar heat. Conversely, all windows coverings should be closed at night, or when the sun is not shining.
Hot Water Pipe Insulation
Insulating hot water pipes can save an amazing 10-15% on your annual energy usage. To insulate, simply stop at any hardware or home improvement store and purchase insulated pipe wrapping. It can be easily cut to fit, and secured with a combination of duct tape and plastic tie-wraps.
Indirect Water Heaters
If your boiler has a tank-less coil, consider installing an indirect water heater. Indirect hot water heaters save a lot of energy by storing hot water in an encapsulated vessel that stores energy very efficiently. By contrast, a boiler with a tank-less coil runs excessively throughout the year because of potential demand. Most of the heat simply goes right up the chimney. Another added benefit…you will have a near limitless supply of hot water!
Install Water Saving Shower Heads
The less water you use, the less energy it takes to heat the water. It just makes a lot of sense!
Install a Fireplace Heater Grate
There are a lot of folks that enjoy the warm cozy crackle of a fireplace during a cold winter night, but the truth of the matter is that most of that heat goes right up the chimney! A fireplace heater grate captures heat from your fireplace and circulates it into the room. Typically these units can capture 30-50,000 BTUs of wasted heat from a fireplace and effectively heat that room or part of your home.
Warm Air Furnace and Hydro-Air System Filter Changing
This is a big one, and responsible for an enormous amount of wasted fuel. In times of constant heating (or cooling) operation, FILTERS SHOULD BE CHANGED EVERY MONTH! Go to your local hardware or home improvement center and pick-up a year’s supply of filters. Your full service heating oil dealer can also provide your air filters if you wish.
Insulated Water Heater Wrapping
Depending on what type of water heater you have, you may be able to save significant energy by wrapping your water heater with a special water heater insulation blanket. These are available from most home improvement stores and take about an hour to install.
Heat Duct Sealing
Look for gaps or cracks in your duct work and seal them with duct tape (yep, that’s what it was made for…)
Clean Baseboard Fins
Your baseboard should look like the picture here. Air must be able to freely flow through the baseboard from the bottom and out through the top. Make sure the fins are not plugged with dirt, lint or pet hair (you can vacuum them out with a vacuum crevice tool). The louver at the top of the baseboard should be open enough to allow for free air flow. Your baseboard should never be blocked by furniture or long drapery.
Lamps used more than 2 hours per day on average are good candidates for replacement with compact fluorescent lamps or LED’s. The energy bill savings will more than pay for the extra cost of the lamps over their lifetime, and you will have to replace fewer lamps because fluorescent lamps last ten times longer than ordinary light bulbs. Motion sensors or timers on outdoor lights can help reduce the electricity bill for these high-use lamps.