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Are you using an older boiler to provide heat for a hot water baseboard system?

Most homes in New England use boilers and high-temperature baseboard heating. If your boiler is 10 years old, or more, you should look at replacement or efficiency upgrades. Improvements in boiler design allow new units to far outperform boilers that are 10+ years old. The savings in fuel can quickly add up, making it impractical to keep an older boiler running. Newer high-efficiency condensing gas designs have the ability to use all the heat the unit creates, instead of sending 500°+ air up the chimney. Printable information on common rating systems.

Cold start and outdoor resets are two common efficiency upgrades that can be installed in many older units. In general these upgrades pay for themselves within a few years

  • The savings with cold start in the non heating months are dramatic.  Your boiler only turns on when you need space heating or water in the storage tank needs to be heated, rather than keeping the boilers internal reservoir at 180 degrees 27/7/365.
  • With an outdoor reset, an outdoor temperature sensor tells the boiler how warm it is outside. If the air is warmer and the water temperature coming back from the heating loop is fairly high, the system knows it can provide lower temperature water into the baseboard and still meet your home heating needs. Generally for every 3° of temperature drop you save 1% on fuel. By taking the water from 180° to 120 you will save 15%.

If you are using oil and you are lucky enough to have natural gas you can cut your fuel bill by over 50% by switching.  Propane has fewer Btu's per gallon than oil but a good propane boiler is more efficient and thus uses less fuel.  For many years the price of propane has been much lower than oil.  In 2012/13 oil was about $3.80gl and propane about $2.25gl.  Propane for clothes drying and cooking is less expensive than electric and many families have small propane tanks and pay a premium for the fuel because of the low use.  If you switch to propane for space heating make sure you tell your propane vendor and ask for a lower price.


Boiler upgrades are covered by the Efficiency Maine Home Weatherization incentive program and many are energy star listed for a federal tax credit.  Visit DsireUSA.org to find out about the many incentives available for boiler upgrades.


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