Winter has settled on us in a big way and homeowners are looking for ways to cut down on Boston heating costs. Home insulation, weather-stripping, window replacement, programmable thermostats and a move to a high-efficiency furnace are the first actions that come to mind when trying to lower home heating costs.
Many homeowners in the Boston area have boilers rather than furnaces and replacement of the heating system just isn’t a practical option. So what can these homeowners do to conserve energy and save on home heating costs? If you have a boiler and haven’t already done so, consider installing an outdoor reset control (ORC).
An ORC is an external sensor that monitors the outside air temperature. When the thermostat indicates the inside temperature has dropped, it communicates this information to the ORC instead of directly to the boiler. The ORC then compares the outdoor and indoor temperatures and acts as a fine-tuning adjustment for the boiler, instructing the boiler to heat only to a certain temperature. The boiler generates enough heat to warm the home’s interior to a comfortable temperature without wasting energy.
As the outdoor temperature falls, your boiler is tuned to generate more heat. When the outdoor temperature rises, your boiler’s maximum temperature is turned down. You will save on your heating bills regardless of whether you use a traditional boiler or a condensing boiler. Depending on your home heating setup and how you use your boiler, an ORC could reduce home heating costs between 5% and 30%.
Without an ORC, your boiler will simply heat to a preset temperature and blast heat into the home regardless of the outside temperature. In this case, the boiler can “short cycle” or turn on and shut off in a very inefficient way, especially on warmer winter days. The haphazard operation of the boiler means that the radiators and baseboard heaters won’t heat a room evenly and may make a lot of undesirable noise as they struggle to cope with the on-off actions of the boiler.
This uncontrolled approach wastes energy and creates an uneven home heating situation. Your home can easily end up being far too warm, which means that your heating bills will be much higher than they need to be. If you adjust the boiler to compensate, you could find that your home isn’t warm enough for the coldest days of winter.
If you have a steam or hot-water heating system and would like more information about an outdoor reset control, or need assistance with the maintenance of your heating system, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911.