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For homeowners, the shorter days and cooler nights are telltale signs that the leaves will need to be raked and the furnace tuned up. Whether it is a mild or cold winter, it still makes sense to reduce your energy usage, which not only saves you money but also makes your home more comfortable.

Here are some tips that will save you money this heating season:

  • Tune up your heating system. Have a qualified service technician clean and service your furnace annually. They will inspect your system to make sure it is operating safely and at peak operating efficiency. Since heating accounts for 34 percent, of a typical homeowner’s utility bill, it might make sense to investigate the feasibility of upgrading your system, especially with the various incentive programs available. The federal government is providing tax credits on new natural gas, propane, or oil boilers with an efficiency rating greater than 90 percent.  Natural gas or propane furnaces must be rated at least 95 percent efficiency for the same credit, with oil, 90% of greater.
  • Seal your ducts. If you home has heating ducts you may be losing up to 60 percent of your heated air before it even reaches the register. Seal your duct’s joints using mastic-approved tape and compound. After sealing, insulate the ducts. Repairing, sealing and insulating ducts is a job best left for professionals since ducts that do not work properly can create serious, life-threatening carbon monoxide.   
  • Consider a programmable thermostat. They are easy to use and inexpensive to install.  It will automatically reduce your energy consumption if you program it to turn down the heat while you are away. Some thermostats only cost $25. It is a great investment.   
  • Fireplaces are one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use. While the ubiquitous fireplace creates a wonderful ambience, a roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. If you never use your fireplace, consider plugging and sealing the chimney flue. There are fireplace plug draft stoppers available through your local retailer. If you do use your fireplace, please be sure to keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly and lower the thermostat setting to between 50 and 55 degrees.

 

By making a few improvements now, you will be ready for another heating season.

 

By John DiNapoli, municipal and community services manager for Unitil

    

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About Unitil Corporation

Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil’s operating utilities serve approximately 105,600 electric customers and 82,700 natural gas customers. For more information about our people, technologies, and community involvement please visit https://unitil.com.


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