Three Simple Steps to Eliminate Your Reliance on Heating Oil
As the winter slowly turns to spring and the weather gradually warms up, now is a perfect time to look back and ask: how much did I spend on heating bills this year? If you’re one of the millions of northeast homeowners still relying on fuel oil to keep warm, chances are you spent a lot! Fortunately homeowners can follow these three simple steps to reduce and even completely eliminate their dependence on fuel oil.
Get a Home Energy Assessment
The first step in making any decision about upgrading your heating system or tightening up your house starts with getting a qualified professional to come by and perform an energy audit or assessment. Carried out by a licensed professional, home energy audits take the guesswork out of efficiency upgrades letting you know exactly where you need to invest and how much you can expect to save.
Most professional home energy audits take a few hours and involve a thorough room-by-room assessment sometimes using sophisticated technology like infrared cameras that detect heat loss and/or a blower door test that measures air leakage. Best of all, most states and many utilities offer free energy audits and will connect you with a professional in your area.
For most homeowners, especially those in older homes, the next step will be to add some insulation to retain more of the heat you’re paying for. While windows and doors are often major sources of heat loss, upgrading and replacing them can be so expensive that many homeowners will never see a return on investment in terms of heat savings. Fortunately, adding insulation can be affordable, easy, and if done properly, can save you a ton on heating costs.
Your home energy audit should let you know exactly where you ought to start with your insulation upgrade. That said, if you’re in an older home with an unfinished basement (or a crawl space), having a professional insulate your rim joists can offer the best “bang for your buck” of any upgrade. Rim joists are the area between your foundation and your first floor, and up until very recently most builders were content to leave that space completely uninsulated. That small empty area creates what’s called a “chimney effect” that invites cold air into the house while sucking out warmth. It’s also a perfect conduit for bugs, rodents, and mold so properly insulating that space is a no brainer! A recent study by DuPont suggests that most homeowners who insulate their rim joists will see a return on investment in less than a year.
Another great place to look to increase your home’s efficiency is up. We all know that heat rises, so your roof and attic are natural places where the warmth you pay for will look to escape. An improperly insulated attic will cause condensation that can lead to mold problems and even break down the integrity of your roof. Fortunately, adding more insulation to your attic is relatively easy and affordable. If you’re handy you might even be able to tackle it yourself, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program created a step-by-step DIY guide to walk you through the process.
Upgrade Your Heating System
Fuel oil was first introduced to the market for homeowners in the 40s as a cleaner, more efficient alternative to coal and sawdust-powered heating systems. Given the competition, it’s no wonder that by 1960 over 32% of homes were warmed with fuel oil. While that might have been a great innovation eighty years ago, there are plenty of reasons why only 7% of homes still rely on fuel oil today. In addition to being bad for the environment, burning fuel oil is one of the most expensive and least efficient ways to heat homes. The good news is that today’s alternatives are not only greener and more efficient, many will save you thousands and thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the system.
The average oil furnace operates at just 65% efficiency. Compare that to modern natural gas and propane furnaces that can boast upwards of 95% efficiency and cost a fraction to operate. Ultimately though, there’s no greener or more efficient home heating system than geothermal which harnesses renewable thermal energy from the earth under your lawn to eliminate your heating bill altogether! Geothermal systems will operate at anywhere from 400-600% efficiency, regardless of the temperature outside. And unlike traditional heating systems, geothermal will not only keep your family warm, it also provides hyper-efficient central AC in the same system.
Geothermal technology has been around for a long time, but up until recently the upfront costs of installing a system prevented most homeowners from considering it. Fortunately, Dandelion Energy’s innovative technology and business model has made geothermal more affordable and accessible than ever before. With Dandelion, you can even finance your upgrade to geothermal for no money down and pay as little as $150/month so you can ditch the oil bill and start saving immediately.
What are you waiting for? To see if your home is eligible for a geothermal consultation click here: