home effiency issues connecticutOn those cold winter mornings, there’s nothing better than pulling up the covers and feeling the furnace turn on, keeping you cozy and warm. 

But, did you know that heating your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home? Energy Saver – an office of the U.S. Department of Energy – notes that heating your house makes “up about 42% of your utility bill.”

While factors like home size and gas rates can affect your utility bill, so can the efficiency and age of your gas furnace. 

In this article, we’re going to break down what you need to know about furnaces and more importantly, why your furnace could be losing efficiency. 

What does the furnace rating (AFUE) mean?

At its most basic, furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air throughout the house using air ducts. 

The efficiency of your furnace is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which must be displayed on all new units. AFUE measures how efficiently the furnace converts energy in its fuel to heat over a year. 

More specifically, a furnace with an AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in its fuel becomes heat, while the other 10% escapes from chimneys and elsewhere. 

Keep in mind, that the AFUE does not include the heat loss that commonly occurs via the ducting or piping, which according to Energy Saver can be as much as 35% of the energy output. 

While electric heaters have higher AFUE ratings of 95-100%, they are often the least economic choice for homeowners given the higher cost of electricity. 

Why is your furnace losing efficiency?

Over time, it’s common for a furnace to lose efficiency, due to age, as well as wear and tear. But, there are several things you can do to improve efficiency in your furnace, which will improve heating and result in lower bills.

1. Clean Your Filter

The most common reason for an inefficient furnace is a dirty filter. Most people don’t realize their filter needs to be routinely changed, so they leave the same one in for months, or even years. If you don’t change your heating system’s filter on a regular basis, it not only hinders the unit’s energy efficiency, it can cause long-term damage and reduce the air quality in your home. Check the unit for specifications, but the filter should be changed every few months, if not at least once a year.

2. Check for Air Leaks

It’s not uncommon for even the most sound homes to have air leaks that cause the heated air to escape the house. If your house isn’t properly insulated, your hot air (and your money) could be going out the window – literally. Heat can be lost through drafty windows and doors, through the ceilings, and even your walls

3. Your Radiators Are Blocked

Be sure and keep all baseboard heaters and radiators clear of furniture or other objects to ensure the heat is distributed evenly and as able to reach the entire house.

4. Check for Cracks, Loose Parts on Your Furnace

Loose parts and fittings can create enough space to reduce airflow and cause rattling. Don’t forget to also check the blower fan, which can break or bend. Also, the fan belt is a good place to look for fraying. Lastly, check the combustion chamber for cracks.

5. Weatherize for Winter

In addition to ensuring your furnace is running properly, you should also be weatherizing your home each year. This means reinsulating areas that you know to be leaky or drafty. Use weather-stripping to block air leaks around doors and windows.

6. Check the Burner Flames

Inspect your burners and ensure they are free of debris. If your burner flames are blue, that means the burner is clean. If they’re yellow, you have dirty burners. Turn off the power and gas and then vacuum your burners.

7. Check the Limit Switch

Did you know if your furnace has a bad limit switch your blower could be running all the time? This will result in a shorter life for your blower. When they fail, the heat is always on, making it very hot.

8. Clear Heat Pumps & Intake/Exhaust Vents

If your furnace vents to the outside, you should always make sure nothing is blocking the vents. Clear any leaves or debris in the area. If you have a heat pump, clear any debris from the fins of the outdoor compressor unit.

9. Update your Heating System

As heating systems age, they begin to lose energy efficiency. Even with a new filter and proper maintenance, a furnace that is 15-20 years old will not be nearly as efficient as it was when it was brand new. It may be time for a new furnace. 

Regularly checking and maintaining your furnace will help prolong the life of your unit and ensure cost-effective and efficient heating of your home. Before the cold grip of winter hits, consider whether or not you need a new furnace. 

heating oil facts fairfield, connecticutAs the cold weather approaches, you might be thinking about the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat your home. It’s wise to consider a variety of fuel alternatives, as well as different ways to optimize your home for energy efficiency.

After all, heating systems aren’t only about your comfort, they also account for nearly 42% of your entire energy bill.

Everything You Need to Know About Home Heating Oil

Whether your home is already equipped with an oil-fueled furnace, or you’re upgrading your home’s heating system this season, you’ll want to know about the source that is fueling your home’s heat. These 16 facts will tell you everything you need to know about home heating oil so you can make the right decision for your home.

  1. Approximately 18 million American households use heating oil to warm their homes each winter.
  2. The most significant demand for home heating oil in the U.S. is in the Northeast region of the country. More than 5.5 million households in this region of the country use heating oil as their primary fuel during the winter.
  3. There are three terminals for heating oil storage in the Northeast: Groton, CT, Port Reading, N.J., and Revere, MA.
  4. Heating oil is an extremely clean source of fuel. In fact, newer oil-fueled home heating systems run on nearly zero emissions, while simultaneously burning more efficiently. Some new oil-fueled heating systems boast 95% efficiency ratings.
  5. As a whole, home oil burners produce only .003% of total particulate emissions in the United States.
  6. The formula for heating oil continues to advance thanks to bioheat technology. Heating oil can be mixed with low-sulfur biofuels, made from oil blended with sunflower, soybean or vegetable oil, which cut sulfur emissions by 75 to 80% and cut particulate matter by 80%.
  7. By burning clean fuel, homeowners can reduce the number of regular cleanings and maintenance visits required on their heating equipment each year. With traditional oil, sulfur builds up and creates deposits on heat exchangers. Increased grime means homeowners must clean their systems more regularly to improve efficiency.
  8. Heating oil burns 300 degrees hotter than natural gas allowing it to warm your house faster, and maximize its output.
  9. Due to increased efficiency in heating equipment, the average consumer now uses 25% less heating oil each winter than in 1989.
  10. Annual heating costs for heating oil are consistently lower than natural gas or electricity. The Department of Ecology studies estimates that oil heats 16% more efficiently than natural gas.
  11. When adjusted for inflation, heating oil is cheaper today than it was 20 years ago. On average, oil heating prices are 2.5 to 5.5 times lower than electric-based heating prices. And, homeowners with heating oil-based systems spend less, on average, than those heating with natural gas systems.
  12. Home heating oil is very safe. It is non-explosive. Even mixed with air, heating oil does not become explosive like natural gas does. And unlike with propane, a lit match would go out if it were to be dropped into a pool of heating oil.
  13. The inhalation of oil fumes is not fatal, and there’s a very low possibility of carbon monoxide entering your home from using heating oil.
  14. The portability and access to heating oil is an advantage for homeowners who live in remote or rural areas. It’s easy to have heating oil delivered to your home, even if another fuel like natural gas isn’t accessible.
  15. Homeowners don’t need to worry about heating oil shortages. While natural gas and propane can become scarce during the coldest months of the year — creating shortages — this is not the case with heating oil. Homeowners with heating oil can rest easy knowing there will be a steady stream of fuel when you need it most, especially if you opt for automatic delivery services.
  16. Replacing your home’s heating system can be frustrating and expensive. While natural gas and propane systems last from 15-20 years, oil-based heating systems tend to last for 30 years or more with proper maintenance.
  17. Given how clean, safe, and efficient home heating oil is, it is no wonder why so many households in New Haven and Fairfield counties use it to heat their homes. Before winter hits, contact your HVAC company to ensure your heating system is running properly, your fuel is filled, and your home is optimized for efficiency.

Do you want to know more about home heating? Check out these helpful resources: