Give Your Heating Oil System a Test Run
Make Sure You Get Heat the First Time You Need It
It won’t be long before you’re turning up your thermostat to call for heat. To ensure you get that heat when you need it, we suggest testing your heating oil system now to make sure there are no problems. If you can’t get heat, follow these troubleshooting steps first to see if you can solve the problem before calling your heating oil company for service. It’s better to find out if you have a problem now instead of on the first cold night of fall.
Problem With Power
If your heat stops working and you’ve confirmed that there isn’t a power outage in your neighborhood, your next step should be to check for a tripped circuit breaker or see if the power switches to your oil boiler or oil furnace have been accidentally turned off
If you find that power switches for your heating system have been turned off by mistake, simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem may be solved. If only all solutions were that easy!
There is usually a power switch located on the side of the heating system or on a wall nearby. In addition, farther away, often at the top of the basement stairs, there is an emergency switch with a red cover plate that is labeled. People will sometimes turn this switch off by mistake, thinking it is the power switch for the basement light.
If your power switches are not the problem, check your circuit breaker box to see if all circuit switches are still in the “on” position. Flipping the proper switch to “on” again may be all you need to get your system running again.
However, please keep this in mind: a circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, it may be just a fluke. But if this happens more than once, contact your heating oil company for service, as this could indicate a serious problem.
Many instances of heating systems not working can be traced to the thermostat, whose job it is to send a signal to your boiler or furnace to call for heat. But this signal may be interrupted if the wiring of the thermostat has begun to deteriorate. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common reason why your thermostat is not operating correctly. Another thing to look for are weak batteries in the thermostat.
No Heating Oil
Obviously, if this is the problem, you need to contact your heating oil provider for a delivery. Moving forward, if you call to order fuel, make sure to check your heating oil tank regularly. You should call before your fuel level gets too low. It’s best to call when your oil tank is about one-quarter full. To save time and worry, ask your heating oil company about enrolling in its automatic delivery service to lower the chances of running out of oil.
If you haven’t found the problem yet, press the reset button on the oil burner only once. Pushing it more than once could flood your system with oil, resulting in a costly repair. If the burner starts but stops again after a few minutes, you should call for service.
One more tip: you should always schedule preventive maintenance from your heating oil service company so you don’t have to worry about your furnace or boiler breaking down during the winter. Annual service will also improve efficiency, helping you to conserve heating oil.
Tips to Conserve Energy and Save Money
With another summer flying by, this is the time of year when we suggest you get a jump start on preparing for the heating season. The most important thing you can do is to schedule a tune-up on your heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler.
Why now? The service schedule for your New Jersey heating oil dealer fills up fast in the fall, when everyone starts paying attention to their heating system. Fall storms and early cold snaps cause further complications because sometimes scheduled tune-up appointments have to be cancelled so that your heating oil full-service company can respond to no-heat emergencies.
Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for heating systems– not just because it can keep your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency, but also because four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. A tune-up also allows your heating oil technician to fix minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, a burner that needs adjustment, etc.). Regular tune-ups can also help you conserve on fuel over the winter.
Here more cost-effective ways to help you conserve energy and save money.
Use a Smart Programmable Thermostat
When used correctly, a smart programmable thermostat will pay for itself in just a short time. If you choose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from your smartphone. In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. Don’t go too low or you risk frozen pipes. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.
Weatherize for Winter and Insulate
This is also a good time to caulk any air leaks around exterior doors and windows. While you’re at it, replace door weatherstripping that might have worn away.
In terms of insulation, most homes are under-insulated. Adding enough to meet recommended R-values is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s overall efficiency and comfort. Read the Energy Department’s Guide to Home Insulation.
Keep Your Furnace or Boiler in Mind
If you have a forced-air system (one with vents rather than radiators or baseboards), the most important self- maintenance task you have is to check your air filters regularly, cleaning or changing them when needed. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Clogged filters rob your furnace of efficiency by making it overwork to keep you warm; that means higher heating bills and more wear and tear on your equipment. Note: the same principle about air cleaners applies if you have a central air conditioning system in your home.
If you have an older steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. If you have a modern hot water boiler, the boiler’s automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.
Use the Sun’s Free Heat in the Winter
During the cold months, keep curtains and shades open in sun-exposed rooms to absorb all that free heat and energy during the day, then close them at night to keep it in at night. Do the reverse in the summer by closing curtains and shades during the day to block solar heat. Smart window treatments can help manage solar energy throughout the year.
Close Your Fireplace Damper, Keep Vents and Radiators Clear
An open fireplace damper is like an open window; close it when you are not using your wood-burning hearth. You should also move any furniture, drapery or rugs away from air vents, baseboards or radiators. This helps improve air flow and keeps heat circulating into rooms.
To learn about how you can positively impact your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to systems like high-efficiency heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please visit our website.
Stay Safe & Comfortable in an Oil-Heated Home
There are so many benefits to living in an oil-heated home in New Jersey. For example, the flame inside the heating oil system burns hotter than other types of systems. As a result, homeowners who use heating oil enjoy warm homes with evenly distributed heat—a big comfort during all those cold days and nights of winter.
Plus, you have so much choice about the company that delivers your oil and services your equipment. This way, you can select a company that best fits your needs and your budget. And heating oil companies are known for delivering top-notch service and customer support. So, you can feel very confident knowing that you and your family are going to be in good hands.
Advanced heating fuels like ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) and Bioheat® fuel are becoming more wide spread, ULSHO contains very little sulfur and this helps heating oil systems run more efficiently.
Bioheat fuel is the industry’s official registered name for the fuel that consists of a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil with renewable biodiesel that’s made from organic and recycled products. These products can range from soybean oil, used cooking oils, inedible corn oil, canola, tallow, fats and even algae.
Bioheat fuel is sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies. That’s good news for New Jersey!
The most refined grade of heating oil available, Bioheat fuel is one of the cleanest burning heating sources for your home or business. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly and no changes to your existing heating oil system are necessary if you want to use Bioheat fuel.
Modern Aboveground Oil Tanks
Years ago, an old, steel oil tank buried underground often drove people away from living in an oil-heated home. But that obstacle is rapidly becoming a nonissue because many homes today have a modern, aboveground oil tank.
There have been big improvements in heating-oil tanks over the years. One of the most important is double-walled construction with an outside layer of corrosion-proof galvanized steel. This keeps the chance of a costly leak to a minimum. Other innovations include:
- leak-detection systems
- long-term warranties
- sleek designs that allow the tank to fit into smaller spaces
To sum up, today’s heating-oil storage tanks provide peace of mind and convenience—in addition to all the other benefits of heating your home with oil!
A heating-oil storage tank also gives the homeowners the ability to safely store an adequate supply of heating oil that’s ready for immediate use whenever a need to heat the home arises. Heating oil is very safe. In fact, if you dropped a lighted match into a bowl of heating oil, the flame would go out just as if you had dropped the match into water.
Additionally, a heating oil furnace or boiler poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. And if there is an issue, your system will alert you with a visible warning
Today’s heating oil–– the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel about using it!
To learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel and the other advantages of having an oil-heated home in New Jersey, please go here.
Is It Time To Replace Your Old Oil Boiler?
Fast fact: North Jersey has five times the number of boilers as the national average while South Jersey has 2.5 times as many. So, there’s a good chance you may have a boiler too! Not sure what type of heating system you have? Here’s a primer.
In homes with a hot water, or hydronic, system, water circulates around your oil boiler’s combustion chamber. A circulator pumps the hot water through pipes to heat baseboards or radiators. Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again. Steam boiler systems work similarly except they generate steam, which rises up to radiators (no circulators are needed). A low water cut-off shuts down the boiler if water levels drop too low, preventing boiler damage.
If you don’t have baseboards or radiators in your home and warm air blows out of vents or registers instead, then you have a furnace.
Like any piece of equipment, your boiler will eventually have to be replaced one day. Here are five signs that will help you determine if a replacement system is in order.
Boiler Replacement Warning Signs
If your boiler’s age is close to 20 years old–or older–you’ll save money on your annual heating costs by replacing it with a new, more efficient system. New oil boilers heat your home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment.
2. Signs of corrosion
Just like your water heater, if you see outward signs of rust on your boiler, its time is running out. A professional inspection may also reveal damage to piping or other boiler components.
3. Your comfort levels
Is your old boiler keeping you warm enough? A properly working oil boiler should keep you comfortable even on the coldest New Jersey nights, but a boiler’s operating performance diminishes with the passage of time.
4. Your heating costs continue to go up
Your boiler’s efficiency slowly degrades the older it gets. Lower efficiency means higher heating costs. Add in a higher number of repairs for an old system and this is another strong sign that you would do well to let go of your old oil boiler and upgrade to a new one.
5. Diminished hot water production
If you depend on your boiler to heat your domestic hot water—and you’re not getting as much hot water as before–this could be a sign of a leaking or corroded coil on the boiler, a warning of potential boiler failure.
Today’s Heating Oil Systems: Incredibly Efficient
The latest oil boilers (and furnaces) are small, smart and super-efficient and can save you 20% or more on your annual heating costs. There are many different equipment options to fit your budget and your local heating oil company has expertise in all types and models of oil heating equipment.
Compared to 25 years ago, homeowners now need an average of 500 gallons less oil to heat their homes each year. That’s because new, high-efficiency heating systems feature enhanced technology and control capabilities to provide optimal comfort while decreasing your energy costs. Another popular feature of modern, high-efficiency heating systems is that they operate significantly quieter than old heaters.
In contrast, heating systems from the “old days” were built with thick metal components that do a poor job at transferring heat. Unfortunately, many of these systems are still in use today and people who still use them pay so much more to heat their home than someone who has upgraded their oil heating system in the past few years.
Despite this potential for big savings, many people don’t bother to update their heating system until something major goes wrong. They don’t realize that a new, high-efficiency system could actually pay for itself in a fairly short period of time.
The combination of continually improving ultra-low sulfur Bioheat® fuel with increasingly efficient heating oil systems is the 1-2 punch that will help homeowners save significant money on their heating bills. At the same time, their oil-heated homes will be on the path to becoming carbon-neutral.
To see how much you can save with a new, high-efficiency system, reach out to your local heating oil service provider and they’ll be glad to crunch some numbers for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you could save. Equipment rebates for new boilers are also available! Read more here.
Does Your Heater Need A Repair Or A Tune-Up?
When you set up an appointment for heating oil equipment service now, you can usually have your pick of appointment times. Your local New Jersey heating oil service provider will have more openings, and will not be backed up dealing with heating emergencies. When the fall chill hits, however, the situation changes and it will be much harder to get a preferred time locked in because of heavy demand.
Think of getting your heating tune-up done in the summertime just like going shopping for holiday gifts in July. No crowds, no stress and you get exactly what you want.
Regular heating equipment maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for heating oil systems– not just because it can keep your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency, but also because four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.
A tune-up also allows certified heating oil technicians to identify minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, a burner that needs adjustment, etc.)
If you noticed any problems with your system last winter, please take care of it before you need to turn on your oil boiler or oil furnace again. These problems are most likely “red flags” alerting you to the need for professional service. Here are a few examples of some common problems.
Heating Equipment Warning Smells
Unusual Noises Coming From Your Heating System
Here are a few sounds and the possible cause. Note: a correct diagnosis can only be made with an onsite visit by a heating oil service technician.
- Banging, whistling, howling, or the sound of rushing water in your pipes. These are common symptoms of air in the pipes, insufficient water flow, or a build-up of sludge.
- Booming or rumbling burner. It’s normal to hear an oil burner “kick on,” but if it makes a loud boom, also known as a “hard start,” the burner is not igniting properly. It needs to be serviced as soon as possible.
- Straining sound from the fuel pump. This means that there is a clog somewhere in the delivery system, for instance, in a filter or supply line.
New Jersey Heating Oil Rebates
A heating system inspection sometimes results in your technician recommending a replacement system because it’s a better option than spending a lot to repair an outdated system. When you replace your old heating oil system with a new one, you may be eligible for two different waves of New Jersey rebates. These rebates could save you as much as $1,400 on qualifying high-efficiency systems.
Not only will you be adding value to your New Jersey home when you upgrade your system, but you could also be cutting your annual heating costs by 20% or more. And think of all the money you will be able to add to your pocket when you get your rebate checks!
Read more about New Jersey heating oil rebates.
Energy Savings: Looking Beyond Your HVAC System
When it comes to saving energy and money, there’s a lot more to it than just your home’s heating and cooling systems. While your HVAC system represents a major part of your home’s energy output, there are also other components. This means that homeowners have numerous opportunities to reduce their energy bills.
You can think of your entire house as a system, and that system has three main parts:
- The building envelope – roof, walls, windows, doors and foundation
- The mechanical systems – furnace, boiler, water heater, central air unit, etc.
- The occupants themselves – their energy decisions and overall energy usage.
Each component contributes to your home’s energy efficiency and you can make a positive impact on energy usage (and your energy bills) in a number of ways.
For example, in terms of the building envelope, you could choose to insulate your attic or other parts of your home. Many homes are colder than necessary in the winter due to poor insulation levels. In the average home, about one-third of heat loss occurs through the ceilings, which should have a minimum of six inches of quality thermal insulation to keep heat inside the home, where it belongs. Otherwise, some of your heat will rise through the ceilings into the attic and then seep outside. What a waste of heating energy!
During the summer months, you could do little things like installing curtains or drapes to block the heat of the warm sun coming through your windows. Or raise your thermostat setting by just one degree. These changes could save you more than you might think!
Use A Smart Programmable Thermostat
In terms of your own energy decisions, investing in a smart programmable thermostat is a wise move. When used correctly, it will pay for itself in just a short time. If you choose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from your smartphone.
In the spring and summer, the U.S. Energy Department recommends setting your central air conditioning system to 78°F when you’re at home. Program your A/C system to shut off 20-30 minutes before you leave home each day; return the temperature setting to normal comfort levels 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.
In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.
To learn about how you can positively impact your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to mechanical systems like heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please visit our website.
Staying With Heating Oil Vs. Converting
New Jerseyans who have heating oil equipment that’s 20 years old or older have a decision to make sooner or later: should they replace their heating oil system with a new model or switch to another fuel to heat their home?
If they do decide to convert, the payback could take much longer. That’s because the upfront cost to convert a heating fuel system alone can be expensive. But the bottom line really comes down to investing in efficiency. It really doesn’t benefit you to switch to a less efficient fuel when heating oil can keep you warm even on the coldest of nights.
Why Heating Oil Keeps Your Home Warm
Heating oil generates a very high number of Btu’s of heat energy per gallon, so it will warm your New Jersey home reliably—and more evenly.
Modern, efficient heating oil systems in well-insulated homes can help homeowners achieve the same amount of warmth while using much less fuel. This results in huge savings and reduces fuel consumption considerably.
And keep this in mind if you are ever on the fence when it comes to switching fuels. When it comes to efficiency, heating oil systems are no different than any other outdated heating system, regardless of the fuel used. Old furnaces and boilers can generate higher-than-necessary fuel bills, but they can be easily replaced with equipment that incorporates today’s new heating oil technology.
And with the availability of New Jersey heating oil equipment rebates, it is easier than ever to cut your fuel costs and save even more by upgrading to the best heating oil system available.
Improvements In Fuel Quality
The growth of ultra-low-sulfur Bioheat® fuel supports more efficient heating oil equipment while also reducing emissions dramatically and eliminating the source of most equipment breakdowns. New heating oil systems are smarter, more efficient, and can save you 20% or more compared with your old, outmoded heating oil system.
In a continuing effort to be a partner in reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gas emissions, hundreds of heating oil industry leaders unanimously passed a resolution to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through the accelerated use of clean, renewable Bioheat fuel blends in heating oil.
In The Future: Higher Blends Of Clean-Burning Bioheat Fuel
Full-service heating oil companies in New Jersey and other states are embracing Bioheat fuel, mostly beginning with B5 blends (5% biodiesel) and increasing from there. Each increase in the percentage of Bioheat in the blend results in even greater energy efficiency and lower emissions.
Heating oil companies in New Jersey, along with the entire industry, have committed to adopting even higher blends in the not-too-distant future. This includes achieving industry-wide blends of B20 by 2023, B50 by 2030 and a 100% Bioheat fuel by 2050, which will result in net-zero carbon emissions! Bioheat fuel is a big reason that homeowners in New Jersey can look forward to a long, comfortable and fuel-efficient future as heating oil customers.
What Is Bioheat® Fuel?
If you’ve been in New Jersey for a while and use oilheat to keep your home warm, you probably know something about Bioheat® fuel. If you’re new to our state or you are using oilheat for the first time, you can count on hearing about Bioheat fuel a lot in the years ahead.
That’s because in recognizing the benefits of this revolutionary fuel and making it available to consumers, the Garden State has been ahead of the national curve, establishing itself as one of the leaders in the adoption of this ultra-clean-burning fuel.
Bioheat Fuel, Explained
Bioheat fuel is made up of a blend of renewable biodiesel and ultra-low-sulfur heating oil (ULSHO). Renewable biodiesel is made from organic and recycled components, called feedstocks, which can include used cooking oil, inedible corn oil, fats, algae, canola, tallow and soybean oil.
What’s the difference between B20 Bioheat fuel and B10 Bioheat fuel?
When a biodiesel blend (Bioheat fuel) is established, its name comes from the percentage of biodiesel it includes. B10 means that the fuel has a 10% blend of biodiesel; the rest is ULSHO heating oil. B20 means you have a 20% blend of biodiesel.
Do I need new equipment to use Bioheat fuel?
As long as you have a working, up-to-date system, you should be able to use Bioheat without feeling any transition at all. In most cases, furnace, boiler and storage tank manufacturers will cover Bioheat fuel under their warranties. Bioheat fuel’s performance standards are approved by ASTM International, which is the organization that establishes industry standards for lubricants and fuels.
Bioheat Fuel And The Environment: 5 Facts*
- Bioheat fuel mixes low-carbon renewable liquids like biodiesel with conventional heating oil.
- Biodiesel is a gallon-for gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels, which have a higher carbon intensity.
- By 2030, it’s estimated that biodiesel will displace 529 million gallons of heating oil.
- The Northeast’s use of Bioheat fuel annually avoids more than 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
- 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions–or 3 billion pounds–is equivalent to removing 320,000 vehicles from the road—-or the equivalent of the emissions from the annual energy use in 180,000 homes.
Why Do Pipes Bang When My Boiler Makes Heat?
A noisy boiler can be a fairly common problem for people who have a closed loop hot water boiler. Similar to a radiator in your car, your boiler is filled with water. But if air leaks into the system, the pressure rushes through the pipes. This results in a banging noise.
Why does this happen? Air can be drawn into the system in several different ways. This includes a defective valve, a broken bleed screw, a pressure leak, or previous repairs done to piping.
Another possibility is a problem with the expansion tank. Because water expands when heated and contracts when cooled, extra space is needed to store air. This is called an expansion tank. But air can be drawn back into the boiler from this device.
To solve this problem, you should contact your full service heating oil company and request an evaluation of your boiler.
North Jersey has five times the number of boilers as the national average; South Jersey has 2.5 times as many.
There are two types of boilers: a steam boiler, most often found in older homes, and the modern, and more energy-efficient, hot water boiler. Steam boilers require special safety precautions because of the temperature of the steam (the water must be heated to 212°F). As a result, it is vitally important to follow a regular maintenance schedule.
Your boiler extracts heat from heating oil as it burns; this heats the water (or creates steam) that will run through the zones that are calling for heat. The heat is delivered through your radiators or baseboards.
The problem is that some heat (as much as 30% in some older boiler models) will be lost as exhaust, which means you are paying a lot of money for heat that will never reach your living space.
In a high-efficiency condensing boiler, heat loss is reduced dramatically. By recycling heat from the exhaust process – and by operating at lower temperatures overall – your condensing boiler can improve operating efficiency by 10-15% compared to a non-condensing boiler.
However, a condensing boiler is not practical for all homes. Plus, condensing boilers cost more to manufacture. Installing a condensing boiler correctly requires highly trained technicians who know how to capitalize on the efficiency benefits of these sophisticated heating systems.
If you have questions about decreasing your energy use, reducing your heating costs or simply using energy around your home in smarter ways, make sure to contact your local heating oil company for advice.
Is Heating Oil A Safe Fuel For My Home?
Many families in New Jersey rely on oilheat to keep their homes warm. And they can do this with confidence, knowing that heating oil has always been a remarkably safe fuel.
Yet, surveys have shown that while heating oil customers have exceptionally high levels of satisfaction with the service they receive, many people, particularly younger ones, have big misconceptions about the safety of heating a home with oil.*
But when was the last time you heard about an oil-heated home exploding? Never? In fact, heating oil has an excellent safety record, especially considering that it has been widely used for decades.
Let’s set the record straight by starting with flammability. Heating oil is biodegradable, nontoxic and nonflammable. It cannot burn in its liquid state. Before combustion can occur, heating oil must first be vaporized by an oil burner at temperatures above 140°.
That’s why the oil in your tank is as likely to explode as the water in your backyard swimming pool. It’s that safe!
Oil Tanks Offer Security And Safety
With an oil tank on your property, you can always count on having a secure, on-site supply at your home. Heating oil is easily transported and handled by highly trained professionals using equipment and techniques that keep safety at the forefront.
Modern heating oil storage tanks have been designed to be virtually leak-proof. Whether your oil storage tank is located in your basement or outside your home, the tanks being installed today are designed with corrosion-resistant materials.
Oilheat’s Safety Net For Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
An oilheating system poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If an oil burner malfunctions (most often due to a lack of maintenance), the safety devices in the unit will typically shut the furnace or boiler off.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that oilheat consumers shouldn’t have working carbon monoxide detectors inside their homes, especially near all bedrooms. Besides a malfunctioning boiler or furnace, there are many other sources for carbon monoxide leaks, including:
- operating unvented appliances for long periods of time
- backdrafts caused by pressure imbalances near the heating system
- leaving a vehicle idling in an attached garage
- running a gasoline-powered generator in a basement or attached garage
- a blocked flue
Make sure you check your carbon monoxide (and smoke) detectors regularly to confirm they operate properly!
Heating oil – the best and safest way to heat your New Jersey home! If you have any safety concerns or questions, please reach out to your local heating oil company.
*Based on the NORA-funded Oilheat Consumer Research Study.