Navigating the Home Comfort Maze
You’re going in the right direction by using propane or heating oil to keep warm. But sometimes, you can lose your way trying to remain comfortable controlling costs.
Here are some tips to help you stay on the right path.
1. Buyer beware
Some fuel companies are notorious for bringing in customers at a discounted rate, all the while making it seem like their price is always lower than other companies’. In fact, their strategy is to continually step up your price until you are paying much more than you would with us. Other “discount” companies advertise low prices in the paper, but are often unavailable when you call.
If you get an offer that seems amazing, please call us to see what’s really involved. We’ve built a business that has lasted for decades by providing a great combination of value, safety and service. If you’re not careful, you can run right into a comfort dead end.
2. When to call it quits
If your boiler or furnace is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it soon; the performance and reliability of heating equipment typically deteriorates after 15 years (sooner if maintenance has been neglected).
At a minimum, a new system should help you save up to 20% on your annual heating costs. (If you significantly improve system efficiency, savings can be 40% or even more!) You’ll feel the difference in comfort too. And you’ll also save on repairs, because you’ll minimize the potential of a system breakdown, a common problem with old systems.
A family that spends $2,000 per year to heat its home and reduces its annual cost by just 20% saves $400. If the new system costs $2,800, the payback time on a system investment would be only seven years.*
* This example is for illustrative purposes only; your energy savings and equipment costs can vary.
3. More power to you
Some people think they can’t afford a backup generator, but studies show that NOT having any backup power can be more expensive in the long term. Just one power outage can cost you $1,250 — in spoiled food, eating out, damage to electronics, lost wages and temporary relocation costs.*
If you’re thinking about adding a generator, consider propane. A propane generator offers advantages that other fuel sources can’t match.
Unlike gasoline or diesel, propane can be delivered easily and stored safely on your property. During extended power outages, gasoline and diesel may be hard to get. Propane can also be stored for an unlimited amount of time; gasoline and diesel degrade after being in storage awhile.
Permanently installed outside your home and supplied by your tank, a propane generator will start automatically within seconds of the power going out.
*Source: Power Outage Impact Research, B2B International, 2015.
4. Propane delivered automatically
Like our oil customers, many of our propane customers get scheduled deliveries. They never have to call us for fuel because we carefully track their fuel usage and then make a delivery before their tank gets low. Automatic deliveries do not cost anything extra!
This system works for most customers if usage is consistent, but there are exceptions, especially for customers who use propane appliances at their discretion, such as fireplaces, space heaters, pool heaters and stoves.
In cases like these, we ask that you call us for a delivery when your propane tank gauge reaches 30%. That gives us plenty of time to get more fuel to you.
If you get automatic deliveries and start using a lot more or less fuel than normal, please call and let us know.
5. Avoid these mistakes
Many people have added insulation in their home and followed other energy-conserving strategies. That’s good! But in some cases, these changes seal up a home so tightly that the heating system can’t get enough air to operate efficiently. Poor air flow can also be caused by these conditions:
- A fireplace or exhaust fan may be operating at the same time as the burner. This can result in a smoky odor because a backdraft is pulling flue gases through the exhaust system and into the home.
- A clothes dryer, workshop or pet living quarters may be near the burner. Lint, sawdust or animal hair can all be drawn into the air openings of the burner and clog it, leading to a breakdown.
6. Get “smart”
Beyond replacing your old system or maintaining it properly, there are many other ways to make your home more energy efficient, reduce energy usage and save money on your heating bills.
A programmable thermostat is a great example. When used properly, it can save you about 10% on your annual energy bills. As you may know, you now have the ability to access a “smart” programmable thermostat remotely through the internet.
If you’re away from home, you can use your phone to adjust the temperature setting. The thermostat can also send you an email or a text alert about a drastic temperature change — and possible equipment failure. Some models even let you know when it’s time to schedule maintenance for your heating system. Now, that’s smart!