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Maintaining your heating system = more comfort and lower bills


According to the Energy Department, most homes in the United States are heated with either furnaces or boilers that burn natural gas or oil. These systems often waste a lot of energy because they tend to be old and poorly maintained.
Tuning up your heating system so that it runs more efficiently will help slash both your carbon dioxide emissions and your energy bills. This can make a big difference, since heating accounts for about 45 percent of the average American family’s energy bills, according to the agency.
Experts recommend that you hire a technician to tune up your heating system. The contractor will clean the burner so it burns fuel properly; replace parts, if necessary; and test to ensure that the flue and chimney are not blocked.
“This is important for the safety of your family because you could have an issue with incomplete combustion that could be leading to carbon monoxide in your home,” said Jennifer Thorne Amann, the buildings program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit advocacy group.
A complete tuneup will set you back at least $100, but it can reduce your heating bill by up to 10 percent, according to the group.
Also, if you have a furnace, changing the system’s filter regularly will help you save energy and reduce the level of particulate matter, which can be detrimental to your health.
If you have a boiler system that relies on radiators to distribute heat through the house, you could consider installing an outdoor reset control, a device that modulates the temperature of the hot water in the radiators based on the temperature outdoors.
Beyond tuning up or upgrading your system, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re not overheating your home.
Experts recommend programming your thermostat to around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) when you are at home, and slightly lower when you are out. This alone can help you reduce your heating bill.
“If you’re at home and you feel slightly cold, wear a sweater and appropriate clothes for the season,” Ms. Amann said. “Overnight, most people are comfortable at 63 to 65, with a nice comforter on. Just pile on the covers and keep warm that way!”


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