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Derating or Replacing Oil Burners

Barometric Flue Damper
During your annual service checkup, have your technician perform a draft test. If too much heat is going up the chimney, you may need to install a barometric flue damper. The cost is less than $100 and could save you about 5% of your fuel cost.

Derating or Replacing Oil Burners
Derating is the practice of installing a lower gallon per hour (GPH) rated nozzle in an oil fired combustion appliance to reduce fuel use. Doing so properly often requires reconfiguring the shape/size of the combustion chamber and/or adjusting the fuel pump pressure. It is a job for a trained professional. The practice is also sometimes referred to a “down-firing.”

Many boilers and furnaces in today’s homes are oversized, particularly if you’ve upgraded the energy efficiency of your home. It is simple to reduce the heating capacity of your oil boiler or furnace to make it operate more efficiently by having a technician install a smaller nozzle. The cost is minimal and it could cut fuel bills by as much as 10%.
Derating or Replacing Oil Burners
If you have an old, inefficient burner, though, you may want to replace the whole burner. A flame retention burner will block airflow up the chimney when the unit isn’t running, saving up to 20% on fuel costs at a cost of about $500. Note that steam boilers should only be derated if the steam system is also modified to remove excess radiators, which is a tricky procedure.

Modulating Aquastats (Hot Water Boilers Only)
An aquastat controls the temperature of the hot water in a boiler, typically keeping it around 180°F. But when heating needs are lighter in the spring and fall, that’s actually higher than needed, and wastes energy. A modulating aquastat, also called an outdoor reset, senses outdoor temperatures and adjusts the hot water temperature accordingly. The units can save up to 10% of fuel costs, and cost several hundred dollars.

A cheaper alternative is to manually adjust the aquastat yourself, turning it down to around 120°F during the milder heating season. Consult your owner’s manual or a service technician to locate the aquastat.

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