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Hundreds of ways to keep your energy dollars


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Replace an old furnace

If your furnace or boiler is older than 20 years, it is probably a good investment to replace it with a high-efficiency model.  Also consider a replacement now if your system is one of the following:

  • Old coal burner that was previously switched over to oil or gas

  • Old gas furnace without electronic ignition. If it has a pilot light, it was probably installed prior to 1992 and has an efficiency of about 65% or less efficient.

  • Old gas furnace without vent dampers or an induced draft fan (which limit the flow of heated air up the chimney when the heating system is off).

If your furnace or boiler is 1020 years old, and you are experiencing discomfort or high utility bills, hire a highly-qualified home performance or heating contractor who can help you evaluate your existing system. Often it will be more cost-effective to improve house insulation and air-tightness, repair or insulate ductwork, or tune up your system.


How Can I Save, If I Decide to Keep my Current Furnace?

You can substantially control you fuel costs by maintaining your system..

  • Clean or replace air filters regularly. You will get better quality filtration with a pleated, close-textured filter. But because of their efficiency, they may need to be replace more often. In any case, air filters need to be replace at a minimum of once each month to maintain fuel efficiency. 

  • Clean Vents. Warm-air supply and return vents should be kept clean and should not be blocked by furniture, carpets, or drapes. Cleaning air ducts will not usually improve efficiency, and in fact, if not done correctly, can cause a lot of particulate matter to enter your home.

  • Keep baseboards and radiators clean and unblocked by furniture, carpets, or drapes.

  • Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators, following proper procedures. Call a contractor if not entirely sure of what to do, since water or steam can be under pressure, and cause severe burns.

  • Get a tune-up from a heating contractor. Oil-fired systems should be tuned up and cleaned every year, gas-fired systems every two years, and heat pumps every two or three years. Regular tune-ups not only cut heating costs, but they also increase the lifetime of the system, reduce breakdowns and repair costs, and cut the amount of carbon monoxide, smoke, and other pollutants pumped into the atmosphere by fossil-fueled systems.

  • Seal your ducts. In homes heated with warm-air heating, ducts should be inspected and sealed to ensure adequate airflow and eliminate loss of heated air. It is not uncommon for ducts to leak as much as 15-20%. And, leaky ducts can bring additional dust and humidity into living spaces. Thorough duct sealing can several hundred dollars but can cut heating and cooling costs in many homes by 20%. Some homeowners choose to take on duct sealing as a do-it-yourself project. Start by sealing air leaks using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulating all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages). Never use duct tape, as it is not long-lasting. Also, make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.

  • Check for wasted fan energy. If your furnace is improperly sized or if the fan thermostat is improperly set, the fan may operate longer than it needs to. If you're getting a lot of cold air out of the warm-air registers after the furnace turns off, have a service technician check the fan delay setting. has been developing for months. But the actual construction of this site was begun on February 11, 2009.

The site will be THE comprehensive site for consumers, showing them the myriad of ways they can save on their utility expense.

This column will be available to those wishing to advertise their utility, their product, or their service. Contact us at: to arrange for your ad. The site will be substantially completed within a month, but if you wait until that moment, space may well be taken. This is the time to strike a deal for a bargain ad. We have posted the site early for this purpose.