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Showing posts from 2014

Will we see a cold winter?

If we follow last years trends, we'll have another cold January and February.December felt like a relatively warm month, especially over the past couple of days with temperatures almost hitting 60 on Christmas.  New Englander's were warned that we would have a colder and snowier than average winter, right now it doesn't look like it. When we compare last year's December to this year's, we're following a similar pattern set out from last year.
This December so far has been warmer than 2013's, we still have about a week left to get us right on par with 2013 but it doesn't look like we'll get as cold.  In the five days that we've officially been in winter only one day's high stayed below freezing, the 21st. The 24th and 25th this year were uncharacteristically warm, when compared to the 34 and 21 degrees that we had last year. However in 2013, winter welcomed us with a balmy 53 and 63 degree days on the 21st and 22nd respectively.

As a whole Dece…

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats help to save on energy while keeping you comfortable.I can remember the first day moving into my house growing up as a kid, I was in the second grade and it was February. I noticed the dial type thermostat and thought it's cold I'd much rather wear shorts than long pants.  I decided to turn the temperature to 90 degrees, about 15 minutes later my Dad made comment about it being really hot in the house. To this day a good 15-20 years later that same dial thermostat is there on the wall ready to be turned to 90 degrees.
Modern thermostats, like the programmable one that is in my apartment allow me to set different temperatures for different times of the day. One right as I go to bed, wake up, go to work, and come home from work. On the weekends it is a little less defined but goes along the same principle, I have options and energy saving abilities that my parents dial thermostat doesn't have. 

While I'm away from my apartment the heating system on…

Pop, Bang, Hiss

What to do when your pipes go bump any time of the day.Steam boilers heat water into steam that travels through pipes and into radiators in older homes. Radiators in modern homes have been replaced with baseboards to release heat and eliminate the soon to be mentioned issue. Two of the four homes that I've lived in have had radiators and I can remember the distinctive clank and bang of the radiators turning on.

Usually this only happens the first time that you turn the heat on, if the noise continues throughout the heating system it can become a huge headache. The cause of the noise is cooled water hitting hot steam/water. This occurs most often when the radiator isn't level or is pitched the wrong way.  A steam boiler recycles the water that is used to create the steam to make more steam. A radiator is designed to send the used steam that is now water back to the boiler. If the radiator isn't level then cooled water can get trapped in the wrong places. 

This issue can be ea…

Heating Safety Tips

Stay safe this Winter!As the temperature continues to drop, more and more of us will be forced to give in and fire up your heating source.  Whether it's oil heat, propane, natural gas, or one of the various alternative heating sources we have some tips on how to stay safe this winter.

Fire safety can be a big issue in the cold winter months. Following the tips below will help to reduce fire hazards as you start the heating season, along with stay safe in the deep winter of February.

1. Make sure that your heating system has been inspected and cleaned by a licensed professional.
2. When you start your heating system for the first time this season we recommend that you open up your windows for a little while. This will allow any smell from dirt and dust accumulated over the spring and summer to escape outside.
3. For those homes with chimneys, make sure that the flue is open and obstructions are removed.
4. Try to use electric heaters sparingly. Do not keep them on when you’re not home o…

Price of Oil

Noticing a little relief at the pumps, that relief could be coming to your heating bill too.
those of us that are hoping that this winter will be warmer than last year, are in for another freezing, snowy winter. This would lead most of us to believe that we're going to have huge heating bills to following, for you oil heat customers that might not be the case.

Here in New England we have the highest population of home owners that heat using oil, while 50% of the nation uses Natural Gas, 5% use Oil. The rest of the country is mixed between solar, propane, electric, and other.
Over the past couple of months the price of gasoline at the pumps has been going down, along with any deliveries you may have gotten heading into the season. This is partially due to the demand for oil heated home declining over the years as more homes go to Natural Gas. As this shift continues the price of oil will decline while the problems with natural gas will continue (more on that later). It's a classi…

How do you pick your heating company?

What do you fact the most price, service, or reputation?After last winter the thing that anyone wants to hear is that it's going to be cold and snowy again this year.  With the current price of oil pretty low as October 7, 2014 do other factors start to effect your decision to stay with your current provider or jump ship and shop around.
The first and most prevalent factor that goes into to picking your heating provider is the price per gallon. With COD or cash on delivery companies the price can be fairly low right now if you visit NewEngland Oil you'll notice several companies with prices in the low $3.00 range.  The down side with those companies is a lack of a service department. If you're heating system fails in the middle of a cold snap they don't have the staff to come out and fix it.  If price is the most important factor to you, make sure that you're heating system is in good condition or you might have more than the price of fuel to worry about.

Service, wh…

2014-2015 Winter Forecast

After the Winter that never wanted to end, it seemed like we had a summer that didn't want to stick around.Hopefully you haven't had to fire up your heating system, but one things is for sure aside from this past weekend the temperatures sure have been chilly in the morning. Well now that Fall is in full swing it's time to prepare for Winter.  The big question is, will it be as bad as last year?
The best answer is probably, The Old Farmers Almanac is predicting that we will have just as bad or worse of a winter as last year.  With temperatures just as cold and the same or more snow.  This being New England it shouldn't come as a surprise that we'd have a harsh winter.  However the possibility of a strong El Nino would have given New Englander's a break from Winter's Wrath. 

Recent models point to a mild late El Nino year, which historically brings a cold and wet winter to the Northeast. There were reports in the spring about a strong to moderate El Nino which…

Water Heaters

Unhappy with the amount of hot water in the shower?Ever been the last person in the morning to take a shower, only to find out that the three people before and the washing machine used up all the hot water?  Wonder why you've run out of water while you freeze during the shortest shower of your life?  It could depend on the size, age, and type of water heater you have.
First we'll go over the types of water heaters; tankless, direct & indirect water heaters. Direct and indirect water heaters use a tank that stores and heats the water in the tank to be used later.  This requires the water to heated and reheated as the water temperature can be maintained for awhile before it drops too low.

You might find a tank in your basement that is either near or possibly far from your boiler or furnace. A tank that is close and has piping that runs directly from the the heating system to the tank is a direct water heater.  This directly uses the heat from the heating system to heat the wat…

Preparing for Winter

Last year's winter is still fresh in our minds, and this year wouldn't be better.We all remember how cold, long, and miserable last year's winter was.  With several weeks hovering near zero degrees with days of brutal winds and of course the normal amount of snow. With cold temperatures lasting into March and April it seemed that we would never see the warmth of Spring and Summer.  Now here we are in September with morning temps in the 50's and high's only reaching the mid 70's, reminding us that Winter is right around the corner.
A lot about this Winter has focused on the possibility of an El Nino happening, reports have varied in the chance of it happening and the severity.  Most recent reports are saying that we're going to have 60-65% chance of a weak El Nino toward the end of 2014. What that means is that we're expecting to have a winter as cold and snowy or worse than last years winter.

That means another winter of high energy bills, whether its fro…

The Fireplace Insert

Always loved or wanted a fireplace but don't have a chimney?It's hard to think that the Summer is pretty much over, expect for a hopeful Indian summer.  With Summer coming to a close that means Fall is right around and then the freezing brutality of New England Winters.  For some of us those cold Fall and Winter nights or days mean cozying up to a warm fire in the fireplace or others you could just be wishing you had a fireplace, and then there's the ones that have a fireplace but just never use it.

Fireplace owners know how nice and comfy a fire can be, however you also know how much work goes into owning a fireplace and keeping it running.  Cleaning the chimney, buying firewood, opening and closing the chimney to keep drafts out of the house.  That last one might not be that bad.  What if you could have the warmth and comfort of a traditional fireplace at the touch of a button?

A Propane fireplace does just this, most models feature a remote control allowing you to start t…

Understanding your Tank Gauge

What does 1/8 of a tank mean and how long will it last?For those of you that use a COD company or a full service company and are on Will Call, do you know how much oil is actually in your tank and how long it will last.  A frequent problem that arises with COD and Will Callers is running out of fuel or having to keep track of their fuel use.  While for some this isn't an issue at all, for others running out of fuel and having to frantically call around to get fuel is a big problem. So how can this be avoided? The best way is to familiarize yourself with your tank.

First is to understand how much oil is in your tank, luckily there is a gauge on the top of the tank that shows you how oil is in the tank.  There are variants to this but for the most part they all look like the image below.
While some look different than this they all show the amount of Oil in the tank in variables of fourths or eighths.  

An oil tank if filled from top to bottom will hold 275 gallons, however no tank wi…

Boiler vs Furnace: What do I have?

Boilers use Water while Furnaces use Air to Heat Homes.When the cold air hits and the familiar sound of the heating system isn't heard, it's time to have your heating system looked at and possibly replaced.  A common issue that comes about is what kind of heating system do I have, a boiler or a furnaces and what is the difference?
Well there is a big difference between the two, first is the efficiency and how the each equipment heats the home. Boilers use water or steam, while furnaces use air to heat the home. This is where the terms forced hot air or forced hot water come from, as the system will force heated water through base boards or radiators or heated air through duct work.
Boilers traditionally are more energy efficient than furnaces due to the delivery of the heated source.  There is a lower amount of energy loss from piping involved with a boiler than the duct work that is required for a furnace.  The energy energy rating for your heating system is represented as an a…

The Cost of Comfort

The cost of comfort isn't as easy to find as opening your energy bill.Whether you heat your home from a COD company, a full service company with a cap or without a cap, Mass Save, or any of the other money saving programs, what does it all translate to. When it comes to picking a heating company or a source it isn't just about the cost of fuel, there is an entire system of people that depending on the company can make or break your experience.
When you have a winter like we had last year the price of heating your home became a very important aspect.  This was due to many people taking an additional filling for heating oil and the price of propane rising due to supply and demand.  This lead many customers to look away from Oil and Propane and make the move to Natural Gas or leave their full service company for a COD company.  In some cases these choices were helpful, in others they did more harm than help.
Let's look at making the switch to Natural Gas first,  this is a commo…

Propane, isn't just for the Grill

Propane can be used for more than grilling
When it comes to grilling there are two popular ways to do it, propane or charcoal. If you've ever watched King of the Hill, Hank swears by propane as the way to go for grilling.  Propane isn't just for grilling, it can be used for whole home comfort.

Most of the top heating equipment companies offer boilers or furnaces heated by propane in a similar way to Oil.  Propane at the home requires a tank, just like a gas grill, but tanks for home heat are much larger.  The tanks can be vertical or horizontal and come in sizes that vary from  100 gallons to over 250.  Propane set ups can feature multiple tanks and tank above or below ground.  Below ground set ups are more common in new home constructions but can be added to older homes, keep in mind that your yard will be dug up as a result.

Once the tanks are set, what can be fueled with propane other than a grill? Your boiler/furnace, dryer, pool heater, generator, water heater, oven/stove, o…

Home Comfort During Severe Weather Situation

Do you fear the power going out during a weather storm? New England experiences a wide array of weather, from ice storms and Nor'easters  to thunderstorms, hurricanes, and the occasional tornado. 
The snow storm of 2011, the ice storm this past year, hurricane Sandy, numerous thunderstorms, all of these have resulted in a lost of power.  What if you didn't have to worry about losing power during these weather events? Automatic standby generators offer a constant back up encase the main supply is lost.  In the winter time a generator will help to keep the heat in your home running and the flow of hot water in your pipes going.  While in the summer time you won't have to worry about losing the food in your fridge or freezer if the power is out for an extended period of time. For homeowners with a sump pump, backup generators will keep power to the pump, keeping your basement from flooding during a thunderstorm.

Automatic standby generators are different then their portable coun…

Summer Energy Tips

Summer sun and Air Conditioning Summer means beaches, barbecues, and hot summer days. While us New Englanders can't wait for the brutally cold winters to come to an end and the warm summer air. That summer sun means turning on the AC and fearing the electric bill.
How do you beat the heat without breaking the bank? Heading to the beach for a swim and a day by the beach is always an option. Pools are great for cooling off but the pump and a heater will also increase your electric use. Here are some tips for saving energy this summer without increasing your electricity demand too much.
First when you should and shouldn't use a standing or ceiling fan. Fans can circulate the air out of a room, fans will only cool people. The cooling effect that is felt from a fan is from the wind chill that is created. You should only use a fan while someone is in the room. 
Those of you that are lucky to have central air throughout the home or have mini-split air conditioners, more those later, sho…

Why Do it Yourself Shouldn't Apply to Propane

Why Would you Risk your Family's Safety
We bet that you have a handy man or woman in your home or family that can always fix a leaky faucet, tighten this or that, and fix whatever is broken. The last thing they would think to do is call a professional, I can do it is there first response.  This is the last thing that should cross a DIYer's mind when it comes to installing gas products, but it isn't.

In a new ad campaign from the Propane Education & Research Council or PERC addresses the aftermath of a gas fire from a DIY project gone wrong.  The ad campaign shows a home that has extensive fire damage, a disappointed wife and insurance agent, and a husband that thought he could do it.  

We all think that we can do it until we can't. When it comes to gas unless you have the proper knowledge to set pressures, properly connect equipment, or know where to place equipment, there should never be a time when you think you can do it.

Gas, when properly installed and tested is a…

What does Home Comfort mean?

Home Comfort starts with the right equipment for your needs and your home.What does it mean to have home comfort, we'll be talking about how to achieve this through your heating and cooling equipment.  Home comfort from an energy standpoint should be viewed through this question, are you comfortable in your home all year around?

If you're warm enough in the winter time but maybe paying more than you think you should you're not comfortable. Choosing to sweat in the summer instead off turning on the AC because of the electric bill is a perfect example of not having home comfort in more ways than one.

So how can you be comfortable during the winter and summer without breaking the bank, first look at how old your equipment is. If your heating system is more than 20 years old you should consider a new boiler or furnace. Air conditioning systems that are 7 years or older should be replaced. Mini-split air conditioners are much more energy efficient than window units and offer bett…

What the Natural Gas Utilities aren't telling you

Methane Gas is 20x more powerful of a greenhouse than Carbon Dioxide.

When you think of Oil heat what comes to mind? Dirty, expensive, foreign and inefficient fuel source what about Natural Gas? The Natural Gas utilities want you to believe that their product is cleaner, more efficient, domestic, and better for the environment.  This is what they are telling you, but it's not the whole story about Oil heat or Natural Gas.
First we would like to paint the modern picture that is Oil and heating with Oil.  The United States is projected to became the worlds' largest producer of Oil by 2015. That means that the Oil that is used to heat your home will come from and stay in the US.

Natural Gas comes from the US too, right? Yes it does however the Oil that is delivered to your home helps to keep people in your local community employed. While Natural Gas utility companies are monopolies and like National Grid can be owned and headquartered outside of the US.  Local Oil companies are trus…

Annual Maintenance: Why do I need it?

Annual, Preventive, Regular Maintenance No matter what you call it, boilers, furnaces, AC units, and water heaters need to be tune-up periodically to ensure that they deliver their max performance. Now this has to be just a scam from the heating companies to get more money, my heating system has been running fine for years, why should I have some clean it?  The jury may be out for how regularly you should schedule maintenance but the general guideline is once a year. 
Why you ask, well because your heating system collects dirt, dust and other particles that build up and lower your system efficiency. Making older system even less efficient and making new energy efficient systems seem much less modern.  You might still wonder, does it really make a difference, well we are lucky enough to have a testimonial that shows the benefits of annual maintenance.  This past winter was on average 15% colder than the previous year's winter, if you ran the same year to year you would use 15% or …

Ductless or Split Air Conditioners

A introduction to the pros and cons of Ductless or Split Air Conditioners
As the summer weather start to creep into New England, much slower than in past years we begin to wonder how to stay cool or when the Air Conditioners (AC) should be put in. Air Conditioners are the most convenient way to stay cool inside the home, but which type of AC should I use?

Windowed AC units offer the lowest entry point as far as price is concerned, while Duct Central AC can be paired with existing ductwork in the home from a furnace with a much higher entry point.  In recent years an alternative to these forms has gained a lot of momentum in the market, Ductless or Split AC. A Ductless or Split AC unit is just as the name refers, ductless and split refers to the fact that the AC unit is separate from the compressor. Most commonly a split AC unit is mounted to a wall inside the home, it is positioned where it will provide the most comfort while being as close to the compressor as possible. This installat…