Written on: October 25, 2022
With another heating season upon us, it’s a good idea to review the basics of how a boiler (also known as a hydronic system) keeps a home warm. That way, if you run into heating issues over the next few months, you’ll be better prepared to discuss the situation with your heating service contractor.
There are two main types of boilers found in Maine homes: a steam boiler, commonly 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, propane, natural gas or wood pellets 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 into your living space through either 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. See how much you can benefit with a new boiler installation.
A more efficient version of the hot water boiler is the condensing boiler, which is designed to keep heat loss to a minimum. 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.
Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for home 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 professional tune-up and safety check allows your heating service contractor to fix minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, etc.). Regular tune-ups can also help you conserve heating fuel over the winter.
Contact your local Maine equipment service contractor to make sure your boiler is set to go before winter returns. Keep in mind that boiler maintenance is just one of the ways you can conserve energy and save money over the winter.