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A number of retrofits are possible for oil-fired furnaces and boilers

New tanks are generally double-wall or have a spill container built underneath to reduce the chances of an oil spill. Typically, the tank drip pan shown here is required only for single-wall tanks and would extend the full width of the tank. | Photo courtesy State of Massachusetts.

Oil-fired furnaces and boilers are a popular choice in areas of the country with limited access to natural gas, such as the Northeast. Oil-fired furnaces and boilers present an opportunity to use renewable fuels to heat your home. A number of companies are now offering heating oil blended with biodiesel, allowing their customers to reduce their dependence on foreign oil while drawing on a domestic energy source. The biodiesel blends also produce less pollution than pure heating oil.
A number of retrofits are possible for oil-fired furnaces and boilers
A number of retrofits are possible for oil-fired furnaces and boilers, but before pursuing any retrofits you should consider the potential added benefits you could receive by simply replacing the furnace. The following retrofits are possible:

Vent Dampers
The most common retrofit is the addition of a vent (or flue) damper. A vent damper prevents chimney losses by closing off a boiler’s vent when the boiler isn’t firing. Steam boilers benefit from vent dampers more than hot-water boilers, and bigger boilers benefit more than smaller ones. Vent dampers, however, may not be cost-effective with properly sized, newer furnace models. For older oil burners, converting to a flame retention burner (below) is probably a better investment.

Time-Delay Relay (Hot Water Boilers Only)
A time delay relay is a way to squeeze the most heat out of your system without running the boiler. When the thermostat clicks on, the relay causes the boiler to circulate hot water through the system without turning on the boiler. After a set time, the boiler will fire up. A time delay relay costs about $100 and can cut your fuel costs by up to 10%.

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