A heating system converts fuel into heat which then flows through a house. The efficiency of a heating system depends on the amount of fuel consumed to meet heating needs. Using less fuel means your system has increased its energy efficiency.
Check your heating system first
One way to maximize output using the least amount of fuel is to reduce air leakage. Before deciding to replace or upgrade your present heating system you will have to consider how much of your present system can be saved. Are the heating ducts or water distribution pipes in good condition? Oil and gas fired furnaces require a constant supply of air to operate, because fire needs oxygen to burn. An air-starved furnace can cause carbon monoxide to build-up in quantities that can be dangerous.
Additional ventilation can sometimes be required in houses with heating systems that require little or no indoor air, electrically heated homes, homes with chimney-free condensing furnaces, or houses with a fuel burning furnace enclosed in a room with air for combustion from the outside.
Improve heating efficiency
If you decide to change your system, you'll have to consider what type of fuel you want to use. Cost and availability of fuel is usually the deciding factor. If you're keeping your present system, here are a few ways you can improve its operation.
- Hot air ducts are notorious wasters of heat and money. If your basement feels too warm, too much heat is probably seeping out of your ducts. You can seal all joints and seams in the ducting with vinyl duct tape. With forced air-systems, the furnace filters should be changed regularly.
- With hot water systems, the exposed accessible heating pipes should be insulated with flexible foil- faced fiberglass at least 19mm thick. If there is an aquastat on the boiler, (a water temperature control) the water temperature can be reduced to about 49 Celsius of 120 Fahrenheit during warmer parts of the heating season. (If your boiler is made of stainless steel, or if your main boiler also heats your domestic hot water, you shouldn't reduce the water).
- "Downsizing" your oil furnace can reduce fuel bills by seven to 10 per cent. Retention head burners mix the air and oil spray very quickly which permits the combustion of oil with less air. Less air entering the burner means that less heat escapes out the chimney.
If you think you might be having problems with household air supply, contact a registered heating contractor for advice.