If your heating system leaves your home too cold or burns too much fuel, it might be time to look into an upgrade. Here are the basic steps we recommend you follow.
- Schedule your no-cost home energy assessment. If you have not yet had an energy assessment or have substantially remodeled your home since your last energy assessment, you can save money on your next heating equipment by making sure your home is as energy efficient as possible.
If you have already had a home energy assessment and were not thinking about a heating system replacement at that time, you may need to request a home visit to confirm what incentives you might be eligible for.
During the assessment, be sure to ask your energy advisor how old your current heating system is and how efficient it is.
To schedule your home energy assessment, contact Mass Save, Rhode Island Energy, or your municipal electricity company.
- Insulate and/or air-seal your home. Your energy advisor will determine if you need to improve your home’s insulation and air sealing, how much of that project your energy efficiency program can subsidize, and whether that might be required before you would qualify for a heating system replacement rebate.
In addition to these subsidized measures, if you have a hot air system, sealing your ductwork could make a big difference in your heating and cooling bills. If your duct seams are not sealed, you could be losing as much as 30% of your heated or cooled air before it reaches your rooms! You can hire a professional for this work and, in accessible areas like your basement or attic, sealing ductwork can be an easy D-I-Y project, too. Read more about sealing ductwork at Minimizing Energy Losses in Ducts | Department of Energy.
- Consider your options. You can replace your heating equipment with the same kind, or you could convert to a different heating fuel.
If you are considering bids to convert from oil to gas, make sure you factor in any costs associated with removing your existing oil equipment, including the oil tank, as well as with any new gas pipes that would have to be installed.
Converting to highly efficient electric heat pumps is becoming more and more affordable. In response to the climate emergency, our state and federal governments are increasingly offering financial incentives to encourage people to stop burning oil, gas, and propane for heating. And the electric grid that powers heat pumps is increasingly fed by wind and solar power. Sometime in the next decade or two, all of our heating systems will have to be converted to green electricity. Learn more about heat pumps at Learn About Heat Pumps | Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
Heat pumps provide cooling as well as heating, so they are a great option for homes that need more cooling, that have older central air, or that currently use several window air conditioners.
- What about your hot water? Be sure to think about your water heating system while you are planning to upgrade your heating system. If you are looking to replace a boiler and currently have a stand-alone water heater, get quotes for an indirect water heating system. These systems are more efficient than a stand-alone water heater. A heat pump water heater is a good option if you currently have an electric hot water tank and might be suitable for others too. You could also consider installing a solar domestic hot water system in your home. This U.S. Dept. of Energy website has information about various water heating options: Water Heating | Department of Energy.
- Gather bids and confirm incentives. Even if you love the company that has been servicing your heating equipment, it is wise to get bids from at least two or three different contractors so that you can find the best deals. And make sure you know what incentives would apply. If the contractor does not supply definite confirmation of the rebates that would apply to their proposal, get confirmation from Mass Save, Rhode Island Energy, or your municipal electricity company, before signing a contract.
- Take Advantage of 0% financing. To help finance a heating system replacement, you can apply for a zero-percent interest loan for up to $25,000. In some cases, the cap for subsidized energy efficiency loans has been expanded to $50,000. Contact Mass Save, Rhode Island Energy, or your municipal electricity company for information about zero-percent loans.