How to Reduce Home Heating Costs
Heating Cost Savings Tips
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS - CONTENTS: How to cut home heating bills - tips & book on how to reduce heating cost. Rising Oil Prices, Rushed Service, Home Heating Cost. Why some heating service techs don't tune your heating system for most economical performance. Review of book on saving heating costs & how to use less home heating oil, Specific tips to significantly cut heating costs
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How to reduce building heating costs:
Here we review a CD-ROM or e-Book that shows some steps useful to reduce building heating costs.
We include key articles providing both broadscope and detailed heating and other energy savings advice for buildings. In our article below we expand the author's topic to include our own priorities for saving on home heating cost.
Michael Gristick's website and his book on CD (outlined just below and summarized at this website) promise to cut your heating costs.
Surprising as it may seem considering that the price of oil is once again fast heading for
$90./barrel, you'd think that everyone would have already maxed out their heating system's tuning ability. But Mike is quite right that most people have not optimized their heating
boiler setup nor taken full advantage of other things they can do to save money on heat.
We can offer lots of reasons for this sloth but the basic one is that most folks have little idea what's going on with their heating system, they are a little afraid of it (it's making noise and there's a fire in there!), and worst, people don't realize the very wide range of conditions under which an oil burner will keep running.
The good news is that most oil burners will chug right along making fire in your boiler or furnace combustion chamber, even if they are way out of adjustment. From my days as a heating tech I can recall seeing the efficiency of an ordinary low-speed oil burner change from 61% up to 77% following a careful system cleanout and tune-up, even
without any special modifications to improve the system's operation.(77-61) = 16 percentage points. That's a 26% improvement. Put another way, after that
tune-up you just stopped sending 26 cents on the dollar of your heating money right up the chimney as waste rather than into your house as heat.
This book contains more information than just how to save heating cost. The text is a mix of service-technician-level hints and other money-saving steps that a normal homeowner might perform. Before reviewing the Gristick book on saving on heating costs, to give a perspective on saving on building heating and cooling costs, we list some key articles on those topics just below. After the list we describe the heating cost savings book in more detail.
This book promises to reduce home heating costs for people using oil heat, whether by an oil-fired hot water boiler or an oil-fired heating furnace. This book review examines a CD offered by FreeHeatingOil.com and written by an experienced oil heating technician, Michael Gristick.
As we have worked servicing oil fired heating systems as well as serving a more broadly-trained building inspector, we viewed this book offering
with great interest when Mr. Gristick provided us with a review copy in 2006. In 2007 he was adding to the book's contents.
The bottom line: the book can be a bit tricky to navigate as it was originally written for heating service people. But indeed it contains a number of
good suggestions that can significantly reduce heating costs for oil-fired heating equipment. Here I discuss some of Mike's suggestions and I add some heating and energy cost savings tips of my own that can save you money on your heating bill.
The book itself and its heating cost savings ideas are available on CD.
Rising Oil Prices, Rushed Heating Service, and Home Heating Cost
As oil prices have continued to climb as home owners are more ready to look again
at the economy operation of their oil burner, Mike shifted focus of sales of his
CD to the money savings aspect of heating service and tuning. This was a lucky move
It's the homeowner who pays the oil bill, not the service technician who tunes your
boiler. Even though most service techs take pride in their work and work to do a good
job of cleaning and tuning the system, Mike found that often service techs were rushing through the process and leaving unsafe
or unsatisfactory conditions. There are several reasons for this, one of which is
that the techs are usually over-scheduled and over-worked during the heating season.
A heating service technician during the winter months may be expected to make 8 or 12
service calls in a day. It's impossible to perform a thorough, detailed cleanout and
tune-up in just a few minutes. So
sometimes the technician will see a system that seems to be pretty clean and
running pretty well, and s/he will just do the basics of filter and nozzle change.
How to Read this Book on CD
Using the CD:
acting dumb, I opened the CD and stuck it into my computer's CD reader.
Nothing happened. My boiler did not suddenly start running more quietly.
Smoke didn't stop coming out of my chimney.
And no files opened on my PC. Mike's CD producer apparently does not know
about Auto play software.
So this is what you have to do to use this Book on CD:
Put the CD into your computer's CD reader drive
Open Microsoft Explorer OR open your web browser and look at the CD Drive - you'll see a file folder named "Hot Safety Secrets"
Double-click on the file folder "Hot Safety Secrets" - you'll see a huge list of files in the folder
In a Rush to Save on Oil Bills?: Scroll down until you see and can double-click on "money saving tips.htm" if you want to see Mike's short-list of suggestions
to save money on your heating bills. This will open your browser and let you look over this page.
Want to do it right?: Scroll down until you see and can double click on "index.htm" - this is the starting point
for this CD and the file that ought to be run by an "auto run" feature on the next release of Mike's CD. On this page you'll see a
"Start by clicking here" link that will in turn take you to the list of Mike's nine chapters. If you want to skip this introductory
page and go right to the CD's table of contents, find and click on "contents.htm" or open this file directly from your web browser.
How to Actually Save Heating Costs by Using this CD: "Certified HVAC Technicians Home Heating And Safety Secrets Revealed!"
The header above is the CD title you'll find when you start reading. I've listed
CD's chapters here. While you'll see that Chapter 8 promises money saving tips, in fact
money saving tips as well as important safety tips are scattered through other chapters
on this CD too. I'll point out a few of them.
This book might have been easier for the homeowner to use if the text divided its tips into those
that can be performed by the homeowner, and those that require special actions by a trained,
qualified heating service technician. What this means is that if you really
want to save money on heat, you'll want to scan through every chapter in this book,
collecting the money-saving tips that apply to your heating system.
A nightmare feared by many heating service technicians is an un-trained homeowner
fooling around with their heating system. Beware: if you are not properly trained you may
injure yourself or cause the heating system to operate unsafely.
On the other hand, if you are familiar with Mike's suggestions you will be in a top position to discuss each of
them with your heating service technician at your next heating service call.
Chapter 1: Getting Started, Tools You'll Need
Chapter 2: Training
Chapter 3: Thermostat (controls temperature of your home). This book explains the basics of what the thermostat does, and
it offers some good advice on how to avoid damaging your thermostat.
Chapter 4: Oil Tank, Filter And Fuel Lines (supplies fuel to burner).
This is a great introduction to these components, how they work, what their hidden parts look like,
and some clear basics like how to read the oil level gauge on your heating oil tank.
Mike includes a great tip on cleaning the oil tank fill vent screen. I've rarely seen this point mentioned.
But when your oil company is filling the tank it's done under pressure. A clogged tank vent can lead
to over pressurizing the oil tank, leading to a costly oil leak. Undersized oil tank vent lines can also
lead to this problem and to a blown oil tank. It happens for real.
I'd add a couple of other heating oil tank usage suggestions:
Outdoor aboveground oil tanks: Indoor oil tanks (almost any 250 or 275 gallon oil tank) which are used outdoors are not, or were not UL listed for that
location. Worse, in cold areas you risk
heating oil gelling or water accumulation in the outdoor tank exposed to changing and
cold temperatures. Water in an oil tank or gelled heating oil means loss of heat in cold weather.
Heat tapes heat tapes which some folks install on oil tank lines on outdoor tanks are fire hazards.
You can avoid fuel jelling by using a kerosene mix (just ask your oil delivery company, but it costs more), use "4-in-1 Hot"
which is an oil additive that protects against jelling and also reduces water. Still better, enclose the outdoor oil tank
and give it enough heat to avoid
Chapter 5: Oil Fired Burners (explanation of oil burner and repair procedures)
Chapter 6: Hot Water Boilers explanation of hot water boilers and repair procedures)
Chapter 7: Horizontal (Low Boy) And Vertical Hot Air Furnaces (explanation of forced hot air furnace and repair procedures)
Chapter 8: More Money Saving And General Tips
This information on tips for saving heating cost is the chapter for consumers. The text is
a bit technical, originally written for heating technicians - which may be a hard read for owners who just want to know economy
and not how to take apart service and repair a boiler. But go for it: these tips are very worthwhile. For example:
Setback thermostats:This chapter has some important energy savings tips. For example
Mike suggests using a setback thermostat in this chapter and points out that one degree of set-back saves about 1% on heating cost.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of this simple
suggestion: setting back a thermostat is a money-saving step well within homeowner control.
This is one of the most famous and most-effective heating
cost savings tips known.
You can improve on this idea: install and use an automatic-setback thermostat that will
automatically lower your heat settings when you're
not at home or when you're asleep.
(Details are at THERMOSTAT SETBACK ADVICE)
You can use the special calculator at Warmair.Net to compute how much money you're
likely to save by setting back your thermostat. For example, if your normal thermostat setting is 70 °F. and you set it back to 60 °F.
and if during that time the outside temperature is hovering at 40 deg .F., you will use about 33% less energy during that period.
Reducing boiler temperature: the chapter's advice about reducing boiler temperature
is more of a a mixed bag: setting boiler temperature down is not unequivocally going to save you
money. Suppose you have modern baseboard hot water heat. The thermal conductivity of finned copper
baseboard is exponentially greater as the temperature increases - so you get
much better heat transfer out of a baseboard heater as the boiler temp is set up higher.
Also if you set the system specs too low you may get shorter boiler on-cycles
which is like running a car on choke - wasting fuel by not letting the unit
have as big a percent of its operating cycle run when it is fully warmed-up.
Germ killer spray is recommended in this text. Where is the supporting data on the effectiveness of these products
for hot air heat?
UV lights, which are also suggested by lots of retailers for installation in HVAC duct work are almost certainly ineffective at
treating passing air (there is not enough contact time) though they might treat the immediate plenum surfaces where they shine.
If you want healthy no-mold duct work, more important than germ killing are keeping water out of duct work, changing filters, and using
optimum filtration (and fan on cycles) in problem buildings.
Fan usage: the text recommends minimizing the usage of kitchen and bath exhaust fans.
In some buildings if you abandon the use of vent fans you will generate a very expensive mold problem.
Ceiling fans save energy but increase the airborne particle level perhaps 100 times - a problem for IAQ if the
building is not clean and/or if there are IAQ-sensitive occupants.
There are twenty-eight money saving tips in Chapter 8. Any one of them can probably save you more than
the cost of this CD, making it a good value. Here are a few additional heating cost savings ideas that I didn't
see in Mike's book. In addition to Mike's tips, I'd discuss the following items with your heating service rep:
Oil burner nozzle size: - on old 100-psi low-speed (1725 rpm) units I used to drop the nozzle one
size and set up the fuel unit pressure to 120 psi - which
gave better atomization and the equivalent BTUH at a lower flow rate. This should be tried only by a trained tech.
Most new oil burners run at higher speed (3450 rpm) and many are running at higher nozzle pressures for
better atomization and thus better fuel combustion.
When to measure oil burner efficiency: if you are measuring efficiency of your current unit
in deciding about buying a new one, it is absolutely essential that you first get the existing
unit cleaned and properly tuned and set up. It is inaccurate and terribly misleading to compare
an old cast iron boiler that is dirty and maladjusted and stumbling along at 60% with a new
higher efficiency unit that promises 80% (which would be a 1/3 improvement) - first we clean and
perfect the older unit. If the old unit can be tuned up to 75 % or better, the value of that additional 5% of a new
unit is a 12% improvement not a 33% improvement, and the payback in years is accordingly 3 times longer.
Older style cast iron radiators give an added chance to save on heating cost since
each radiator is in effect its own little heating zone. You can shut down or off in unused areas or install thermostatic valves (long payback).
Just be careful not to turn off so much heat that you freeze a pipe.
Fireplaces and heating cost: fireplaces when in use, or even if not in use if the damper is left open,
are a HUGE net heat loss to the home unless they are running an airtight system and using an outside combustion air source.
For an older, conventional fireplace, you can reduce the fireplace heat loss by
installing a glass door (kept closed) and by giving the fireplace outside
combustion air (required by code in new homes).
Safety: Chimneys and flues - can be killers if they are not kept clean, un-blocked, and safe.
On the text's section on chimney cleaning, I'd add that if your heating boiler vents through a "dead-end flue"
which lacks any opening or chamber below the point at which the boiler vent connector passes into the chimney,
any trash that falls down the flue blocks it and risks improper or unsafe heating system operation. Ask your
heating service technician or a chimney sweep to check your chimney for safety and cleanliness.
Chapter 9: Oil Heat Testing And Supply Link
Setting Priorities Helps in Saving Money on Heating Cost
I would prioritize these heating cost savings topics in order of probable economy and work on them in
Clean and tune the heating system. If the oil burner is not operating properly you are wasting money
every time the system runs.
Set back the thermostat. We discussed this above.
Buy cheaper oil in summer. Some owners install additional oil storage to take advantage of summer prices.
Hot Air Heat: Change the air filters monthly when the system is in use. A blocked air filter drastically reduces
air flow and increases the length of time your furnace has to run to warm up the home.
Then after these critical items, consider all of the other tune up and modification suggestions.
Setting Overall Priorities on Saving on Heating Costs
Readers may also want to place this idea of tuning up your heating system
to save heating cost in the larger energy savings context
Stop drafts - leaky windows, doors
Insulate attics -
Insulate walls -
Then tune the heating system - probably falls in between attics and walls and for sure is
before insulating a basement except for stopping rim joist drafts.
Tuning Up the Heating Tuning Up Book
This book is really for two different audiences
Service training for technicians and perhaps for advanced owners who have some training and want to DIY some tasks
A set of consumer-level safety and economy tips
I'd put the safety and economy tips into two web pages online and use them to market the CD
with a clear description of what you get when you buy the CD - otherwise some folks will be
a little surprised, expecting to see a simple list of money saving ideas, and discovering
that they've bought a deeper, more thorough, and more technical book.
The money savings ideas
are there for the picking, like ripe cherries on a tree. They are scattered throughout the book.
Ferreting them all out and reviewing them with your
heating service technician takes some effort. Perhaps this is a great way to spend a
chilly fall evening, making up your own tuning list to review with your heating company.
You are bound to save on heating costs by following these tips.
How to Buy this Book on Saving Money on Heating Costs
Gristick's book is for sale at http://freeheatingoil.com/.
If you or more likely your service technician take advantage of just one of Mike's suggestions
for tuning and setting up your oil burner for optimum performance, you should have no trouble
saving more in heating oil cost than the price of this CD.
What do you get in this Book on CD?
What's offered is a photo illustrated CD on servicing and tuning oil heating systems,
with service details and advice on tuning and other steps to cut
heating costs. The original audience was heating service technicians, and
the content includes a collection of safety for heating systems and heating system service procedures.
While there is no setting of overall priorities for heating
system safety among the various items discussed, the book has good tips for the
heating service tech on safety, particularly on safety steps that should be
observed during the process of servicing a heating system.
If you really want to save on your heating costs this
winter and in the future, read the entire book, write down Mike's energy saving
tips (and maybe some of the safety tips) that are scattered throughout all of the
book's eight chapters of text, and then discuss them with your heating technician.
And if you really really want to safe money on your heating costs, look over the
"Setting Priorities for Saving Money on Heating Cost" at the end of this review.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
how many gallons of heating oil per unit per winter should I be burning in a ten family apartment building?
I own a 10 family apartment building in New Rochelle, NY I have an old burner (40 years old) but have new windows, attic is insulated, new heat timer panel, etc. How many gallons of oil (average) per unit, per winter season should I be burning?
- J.S. 5/28/2013
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or in this case permit a reasonable estimate of heating fuel usage, both actual and target levels, by knowing something about the building. In the case of your email, with not a shred of data about the building, nor about its heating system I'm sorry to say that ANY guess would be pure nonsense.
That said, here are some things to consider in trying to get at the question that I suspect underlies the one you posed: is the heating system working properly, has the fuel consumption rate changed, and is there something you should be doing to address heating costs:
When we know absolutely nothing about a building or its heating system we cannot estimate the building heat loss rate, we don't know the heating system's theoretical efficiency or BTUH consumption rate, the building occupancy, thermostat settings etc. But nevertheless there is one easily obtained data set that can be helpful.
Call your heating oil supplier and ask for a record of your fuel delivery dates and quantities for the past two years along with degree day data. Your heating company uses a combination of degree days (average temperture and thus average call for heat) and the history of fuel consumption rate for your building in order to calculate when your building needs its next fuel delivery.
With both degree-day history for your immediate locale and the fuel consumption rate history for your building, you can quickly see if the heating fuel consumption rate has changed for your building.
If the consumption rate has increased, for example, you might look for causes that might include such factors as:
change in condition of the heating system: it's state of tune, cleanliness, adjustment and thus performance
change in building occupancy: calls for heat
changes in building usage: occupants leaving windows open
Separately you can and should approach the heating cost savings method with some sense of priorites: what steps should be taken first to reduce heating cost?
Questions & answers or comments about how to reduce home heating costs.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Standard “Method of Testing for
Heating Seasonal Efficiency of Central
” ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 103
, Approved by the ASHRAE Board
of Directors on
October 1, 1982
Standard “Method of Testing for Annual Fuel Utilizat
ion Efficiency of
Residential Central Furnaces and Boilers
” ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 103
2007, Approved by
the ASHRAE Board of Directors on June 27, 2007.
Measure Guideline: High Efficiency Natural Gas Furnaces
itute, Des Plaines IL, DOE/GO
Expert Meeting Report: Achieving the Best Installed Performance from High
Efficiency Residential Gas Furnaces
Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines IL, 2012
deline: Accurate Heating and Cooling Load Calculations
: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Hendron, R., Engebrecht, C. (2010),
Building America House Simulation Protocols
: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Roberts, D (2011).
Assessing and Improving the Accuracy of Energy
Analysis for Residential Buildings
. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Yee, S., Baker, L., Brand, L., and
Wells, J. (2013) “Energy Savings from System Efficiency
Improvements in Iowa’s HVAC SAVE Program.” Chicago, IL: Midwest Energy Efficiency
Printed with a renewable
source ink on paper containing at
least 50% wastepaper, including 10% pos
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, 2010, $69.00 U.S., is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. InspectAPedia.com ® author/editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones