Test your heating system

As much as half of the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling, so when it comes to saving on your utility bills, a great place to start is by looking at ways to reduce energy demand from your heating and cooling system.

In addition to replacing old, inefficient equipment before it fails, Perry provides the following tips, tools and calculators to help you make energy saving solutions.

Test your heating system

Postby Service » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:20 am

1. Have your duct system tested for air leaks. Many think that windows and doors are the major cause of a home's air leaks. But according to recent research by the Department of Energy (DOE), gaps, cracks and disconnections in the typical home's duct system are much more significant. The DOE states that the typical duct system loses 25 percent to 40 percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heat or air conditioner. Leaks are usually the biggest problem.

2. Ask your heating contractor to perform an Infiltrometer "blower door" test. The blower door is a computerized instrument originally invented by the Department of Energy. It pinpoints where your home's worst air leaks are, and also measures how leaky the overall house is. While most homes are still far too leaky, some are now quite tight, and need mechanical ventilation to ensure the air inside is fresh.

3. Have your heating system cleaned and tuned by a qualified contractor. A pre-season tune up and filter change is a good investment. It reduces the chances of breakdowns in the middle of winter, improves safety, and pays for itself through more energy efficient operation. "How To Identify a Good Heating and Cooling Contractor," a free report from the Comfort Institute, can help you choose a trained professional.

4. Have your system checked for carbon monoxide. A good contractor will also offer to test your system for hazardous carbon monoxide, which can be produced by a dirty or malfunctioning gas or oil furnace or water heater.

5. Install a low level carbon monoxide alarm. Every home should have at least one carbon monoxide alarm. However, alarms available from retail stores will not warn of hazardous chronic lower levels. More sensitive low level alarms are available from heating contractors. More information on carbon monoxide is available on the Comfort Institute's Web site.
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