High-Efficiency Heating Equipment Q & A

At Boston Standard Company, we’re all about high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. High-efficiency appliances can reduce your operational costs and open up options that traditional heating and cooling equipment doesn’t provide. Here are a few common questions and answers from our own Joseph Wood about high-efficiency boilers and furnaces, in case you’re thinking ahead for this coming winter.

Heating accounts for as much as 50% of a home’s energy costs in places like Boston. Can a high-efficiency furnace really help lower my heating costs?

JW: Absolutely. You can reach only about 80% efficiency with traditional chimney-vented equipment, so if you want more from your heating dollar, a high-efficiency furnace can get you as much as an extra 15%. When you account for the ability of high efficiency products to modulate the gas valve, you could very easily save in excess of 25% over what you’re currently spending with an older, less-efficient furnace.

My furnace is more than 40 years old, but it still works! Should I just wait until my current furnace quits, or are there other reasons to consider replacing it now?

JW: Sometimes producing heat and working properly are considered to be the same thing, but they’re really not. A system could produce heat, but could also produce high levels of carbon monoxide, for instance. That’s definitely not proper operation! When combining efficiency, safety and reliability, there are many reasons to consider replacing a boiler or furnace before it fails.

In addition, there is a great program from the gas utilities, the “Early Boiler Replacement Program.” There’s also an Early Furnace Replacement program. For those that take advantage of this program, you get a minimum of a $2,000 increase in the rebate. In my opinion, getting paid extra to replace an older, inefficient system is great, and you get new equipment on “your terms,” instead of having to deal with a broken boiler or furnace in the dead of winter! If you plan to take advantage of this rebate program, you need to start the ball rolling before September 30!

If I replace my furnace, what other costs – besides the new furnace itself – do I need to consider?

JW: Most high efficiency appliances require annual service and check-ups. Annual maintenance is the key to maintaining the high-efficiency operation (and money-saving ability) of these appliances. Maintenance on high-efficiency equipment can range from $200-$500 annually depending on system. If you have asbestos from previous installations, oil tanks or other similar issues, those should be considered as well.

The price of heating oil only seems to go up. What kind of savings can I expect if I move from oil to natural gas? If I convert, what other things do I need to think about? Are there other benefits to conversion?

JW: The gas utility claims savings of 30%, which isn’t far from what I normally suggest as well. While every year the temperature and cost of fuel will undoubtedly fluctuate, owning equipment that is 15% or more efficient than equivalent oil products will always be a good idea. Many customers appreciate things that have nothing to do with money when they convert to natural gas…. No more oil smell! No more running out of oil!

Are there any tax advantages to installing a high-efficiency furnace now? Are there any rebate programs I can take advantage of?

JW: There are tax programs that are available for high efficiency upgrades that start around $300 for a high efficiency product and go up from there. Right now, the biggest rebates are found through Gas Networks. You can receive more than $10,000 for commercial projects! Most homeowners would expect to see between $1,900-$4,400 in rebates for converting to high efficiency equipment, depending on the installation requirements.