National Energy Awareness Month; Spotlight on Energy-Efficient Home Heating Systems

Chances are, if you live in a home with an outdated heating system, keeping comfortable is a nightmare, and the constant maintenance required to keep the unit running is downright horrifying.  In New Jersey and other states, there are programs that have truly taken away the fear by offering amazing incentives that are well worth the trip outside your comfort zone and into the realm of energy-efficiency.   

If you've never looked into one, there are some dramatic differences between older heating systems and today's energy-efficient systems.  We've compiled a list of our Top Ten Tips To Upgrading Your Home's Heating System:

1) Budget

This is the most important part of the selection process.  Heating systems vary widely in price and efficiency levels.  Spending more on higher efficiency systems will likely pay you back exponentially over the long term.  Check out local incentive programs to help offset the cost of higher efficiency systems.

2) Type Of Heating System

There are a variety of heating system types including boilers, furnaces, and steam systems to name a few.  Changing from one system type to another is usually a very costly retrofit, stick with the same type of heating system to reduce costs.

3) Choose a Condensing Unit

If you're looking for the biggest bang for your buck, a condensing system is the way to go.  Conventional systems allow up to thirty five percent of heat they generate to escape out the chimney.  Condensing systems recapture heat that normally would have been exhausted up the chimney and deliver it where it's needed, inside your home.

4) Modulating?

Modulating units provide additional energy efficiency, allowing the heating system to fire at lower levels when demand is light and stronger levels when more heat is needed.  Over time, this feature will reduce your energy costs and keep you comfortable at the same time.

5) Choose A Sealed Combustion System

Today's energy efficient heating systems bypass the chimney all together.  Sealed combustion systems vent directly through your exterior wall just like your dryer does.  This means no more worries about clogged chimneys and providing enough combustion air.  They're also much smaller, leaving more storage room in your basement!

6) Install A Properly Sized Unit

Properly sizing your heating system means installing a system with enough power to heat your home on cold days without spending the extra cash on a system that's larger than necessary.  Your service provider should use software to help determine the size of the unit being installed in your home.

7) Properly Ventilate Exhaust

If you've decided not to install a sealed combustion system, have your service provider measure the draft pressure of your chimney and check the new system's exhaust for spillage and carbon monoxide levels.  These small steps can prevent potentially life threatening issues.

8) Your Home's Heat Delivery System

Have your service provider examine the plumbing or ducts in your home.  Poorly sealed ducts and leaky plumbing can cause comfort issues, energy loss, and uneven temperature distribution.  If your system has ducts or plumbing installed in unconditioned space, apply insulation to the ducts or pipes in these areas to prevent unwanted heat loss.

9) Don't Forget Your Heating System's Little Brother!

Your water heater relied on it's big brother to send lots of hot air up the chimney!  Installing a sealed combustion system bypasses your chimney and may challenge your water heater's ability to exhaust properly.  Upon installation of your new system, test your water heater for draft and spillage.  Consider installing a power vented or on-demand water heater at the same time as your new heating system.

10) Your New Thermostat

Your thermostat is mission control for your home's heating system.  Thermostat technology has advanced considerably during the past several years.  Even Google entered into the market with its recent acquisition of Nest Thermostats.  If your unit didn't include a new thermostat, choose a programmable one that will adjust your home's temperature while you are away.  More sophisticated thermostats connect to your wireless network and can be operated remotely, allowing you to adjust the temperature of your home while you are away.