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- Cut the Costs of Home Heating
Cut the Costs of Home Heating
Buying a New Furnace
In older homes with an original heating system in place, it’s often smart to simply install a new energy efficient HVAC unit that is rated by Energy Star. Homeowners should consider replacing their old heating systems if they plan on staying in their home for at least five years. Basic heating and air conditioning packages for an average size home will run between $9,000 and $12,000. Although this can be a big investment for many homeowners in today’s tough economy, many companies offer 12-month, same-as-cash financing or five years of zero-interest financing. “What you’ll save in energy efficiency and repairs on an older unit makes it worth it,” Marowske notes.
Today’s new and improved furnaces can be up to 97 percent energy-efficient, which means 97 percent of the heat produced is being used in the home and not pushed out the chimney. Forced-air furnaces last around 20 to 25 years and have a number of features meant to optimize your home’s heating. Newer models offer variable speed blowers that fluctuate the amount of air being pushed through the ducts depending on what the home’s thermostat measures. A two-staged gas valve can also fluctuate how high the furnace fires, depending on the temperature outside. A mild, 40-degree day may call for a furnace to fire only halfway, thereby using less energy than a chilly 10-degree day.
If you heat your home with a hot water boiler, experts recommend converting to gas heat for greater efficiency. New replacement boilers, however, are smaller than older models and can have 75 to 80 percent efficiency.
In some areas of the country, geothermal heat pumps, which capture heat from the earth through pipes drilled into the ground, are a solid eco-friendly alternative to other types of heating. Installation can be quite costly, but the long-term savings on utility bills can be around 50 percent. Generally speaking, a geothermal heat pump system costs about $2,500 per ton of capacity, and an average home would use a three-ton unit costing roughly $7,500. In addition to the cost of the unit, homeowners also have to pay for drilling, which can run anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.
No matter what method of heat you’re after, it’s important to choose a trained heating specialist. Technicians certified by The North American Technician Excellence Association are third-party certified in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration.
Resources for Assistance
Several public programs are available to help cash-strapped families cope with rising energy costs and get help paying utility bills:
- Citizens Energy is a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost energy assistance to those with low-incomes.
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program that gives money to states to help low-income households, the elderly, and the disabled cope with the financial strain of high heating bills.
- The National Association for State Community Services Programs provides information about community service programs for each state.
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