Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings
AIR BYPASS LEAKS
AIR LEAK DETECTION TOOLS
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BASEMENT HEAT LOSS
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING INSULATION
COMBUSTION AIR for TIGHT buildings
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ENERGY STAR PROGRAM
FLOOR RADIANT HEAT Mistakes to Avoid
FRAMING DETAILS for BETTER INSULATION
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
GREEN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WINDOWS & DOORS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
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.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Readers needing to find and fix un-wanted air leaks, heat losses, or other energy wasters should see HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS.Readers should see ENERGY SAVINGS RETROFIT CASE STUDY and also see HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS and INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT for energy saving retrofit detailed guides. Readers should also see A Comparison of Current Energy Costs: Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Firewood for a table comparing the cost per BTU of different heating fuels.
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. Readers should also see ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings.
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.
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 for consumers.
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.
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:
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.
I would prioritize these heating cost savings topics in order of probable economy and work on them in that order:
Readers may also want to place this idea of tuning up your heating system to save heating cost in the larger energy savings context
This book is really for two different audiences
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.
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.
You can also contact the author, Mike Gristick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: 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:
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?
To answer that fundamental question see:
Questions & answers or comments about how to reduce home heating costs.
Check the FAQs just above, 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.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.