If your house was built before 1960 and it still has the original heating oil boiler, chances are your boiler is on its last leg. While replacing a heating system can be costly initially, you'll likely recoup those costs over time with a new energy efficient heating system. But, you may want to consider a few other upgrades as well if you really want to save money on your heating bills. Here's what you need to know.
What's the AFUE?
First, it's important to understand what AFUE means, because you'll see that a lot when you search for a new heating system. It stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. Basically, it's a rating that is given to show you how much heat is being generated and how much is lost through combustion and exhaust. A new oil-fired boiler with a rating of 85% means that 85% of the fuel is converted to heat, while 15% of it is lost in the process.
The old oil-fired boiler in your house probably has an AFUE rating of 60%. Think about that. Only 3/5 of the heating oil your boiler is using gets converted to heat, the rest of it goes up the flue. Now, sit down and take a look at the heating oil bills from last year. That's a lot of wasted money. But, even with a new oil-fired boiler with an AFUE rating of 85%, the structure of your house (they way it was built) may not keep the warmth inside.
Does Your House Have Balloon Framing?
Many older homes were constructed with balloon framing, which means the exterior wall studs run from foundation to roof. This means your exterior walls have long spaces that run the full height of your house. Within these spaces, the air at the top where it meets your attic is warmer than the air at the bottom where it meets your basement or crawl space. Heat rises and draws up cooler air with it. This is known as stack effect and is what creates drafts in old houses.
These drafts can make it difficult to keep your old house at a comfortable temperature, especially during the cold months of winter. Fortunately, you can reduce the stack effect and drafts by installing spray foam insulation in between the exterior wall studs of the balloon framing.
To tell whether or not your house was built with balloon framing, go to your attic and take a look at the top of an exterior wall. Attach a weighted object to a string and drop it down a windowless wall cavity to see how long the cavity is. If your house has balloon framing, it should go all the way to the foundation. If it hits an obstruction roughly where the flooring is below, it may be timber framed. You can hire a structural engineer if you are not sure.
Is the Envelope Sealed?
Think of your house like an envelope. The envelope is the structure of your house. You'll want to be sure the entire envelope is sealed. In addition to reducing the stack effect inside your exterior walls, seal the top of your house's structure with insulation to reduce the amount of heat that can escape through the attic.
A well-insulated house will reduce the amount of heating oil your oil-fired boiler will use, which will definitely lower your heating bills. And, your boiler won't have to work as hard to produce the heat needed to keep your house warm, which may help your new heating system last a long time.
New oil-fired boilers are built to be more energy efficient, but that means nothing when your old house is letting the heated air escape. To reduce your heating oil costs, it's important to insulate the walls and attic of your old house.
Have a peek at this website to learn more about using your heating oil more efficiently.