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Energy Answers Today

Conserve Energy and Reduce Your Energy Bills


Conservation reduces your energy bills and is better for the environment. The full-service distributors in the Oilheat industry can help customers curb energy consumption, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their efficiency experts can evaluate the heating system and the whole house to identify conservation opportunities, then implement energy-saving measures. There are a number of steps consumers can take that are proven to save energy:

• Install a digital programmable thermostat. It puts a heating system on an automatic schedule: full heat during hours when the home is active, and reduced heat when the house is empty or the family is asleep. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says that reducing a home's temperature by 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can reduce total heating costs by 5 to 15 percent.

Insulate thoroughly to eliminate heat loss through your walls, ceilings and floors. You could reduce your fuel bills by as much as 15 percent, according to Consumer Energy Council of America.

Insulate your hot water tank. DOE recommends that you insulate the tank or water heater and the first six feet of hot water pipe.

• Upgrade your Oilheat system with a flame retention burner, which uses a sophisticated combustion head to burn Oilheat cleanly and efficiently. Brookhaven National Laboratory estimates savings from a flame retention burner alone can cut fuel costs by 17 percent.

Have your heating system tuned. A well-tuned boiler or furnace burns 5 percent less fuel.

• Replace outdated appliances with high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® units.

• Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), that use only 25 percent as much energy.

• If you have a furnace, clean or replace the air filter once a month to assure the best airflow and efficiency. Make sure that furniture or draperies do not block vents.

Reduce water heater temperature to 120 degrees F. When you leave on vacation turn down the temperature on the water heater.

• Add caulking and weather-stripping around doors, attic access, windows, outdoor faucets and any areas where there might be leaks. (As much as 40 percent of your heating and cooling costs can be due to air leaks.) Check caulking at least once a year and replace material that has dried out and shrunk.

• Install rubber gaskets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls. (Gaskets can be found in most home improvement stores.)

• Check weather-stripping and door sweeps at least once a year and repair or replace them as needed.

One Big Step to Savings. The best way to beat the high cost of energy is to use less of it. Homeowners who have older Oilheat systems can lower their fuel costs by 40% by installing a new, high-efficiency system. New designs incorporate technologies like condensing and multi-stage operation to squeeze every ounce of heat from the system. The savings provide a remarkable return on investment that keeps paying off year after year - every time the weather turns cold.

Upgrading to a new Oilheat system is a safer investment than converting to another fuel. The prices of Oilheat and utility gas have followed each other very closely through the years, and conversion is far more expensive than a simple upgrade. The Consumer Energy Council of America says, "Consumers will see no long-term savings by switching their heating systems from oil to natural gas."

Money Magazine concluded "that the cost of converting (to utility gas) would probably be higher than the savings you'd get."

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