Saving Money on Heat: Look at the Whole Picture

Many homeowners think that their heating system is the only thing to focus on when it comes to saving energy and money. While it’s true that your furnace or boiler is the most important part of your home’s heating energy output, it’s only part of the equation.

That’s why energy experts subscribe to the concept of the house as a system. This system has there components:

  1. The building envelope—roof, walls, windows, doors and foundation.
  2. The mechanical systems, which include the heating and cooling systems.
  3. The occupants, their energy usage and energy decisions.

Each component contributes to the overall energy efficiency of the house, and there are opportunities to improve efficiency in each area.

Save on energy costs by fixing drafts

As one example, some of the best ways to reduce the energy you use is to make sure your attic and exposed walls are all insulated properly and that your windows and doors are caulked. Here are some specific areas to consider:


When you’re insulating floors above unheated or uncooled garages, all possible sources of air leakage should be sealed first, This strategy has the added benefit of minimizing the danger of contaminants (from car exhaust, paint, solvents, gardening supplies, etc.) in the garage migrating into the conditioned space.


Besides reducing heating costs, a properly insulated foundation will keep below-grade rooms more comfortable and prevent moisture problems, insect infestation, and radon infiltration.


Loose-fill or batt insulation is typically installed in an attic. Loose-fill insulation is usually less expensive to install than batt insulation, and provides better coverage when installed properly.


If the ducts in your home are in unheated or non-air conditioned space, be sure that they are well sealed and insulated.


It’s always a good idea to insulate part, if not all, of your basement. A properly insulated basement can save you money on heating and provide dry, comfortable extra living space. Install insulation in the basement ceiling, seal off any foundation leaks and insulate rim joists and sill plates.

In addition, seal around electrical outlets and any exterior venting to eliminate drafts and cold spots. If you are considering finishing your basement to create extra livable space, be sure to insulate the walls and the floor for extra comfort.

Contact your local heating oil company for further advice.