If you live in a cold climate, you probably spend something like half of your energy dollars on heat. Your old furnace or boiler chugs away burning gas or oil like there’s no tomorrow. So should you rush right out and buy a new super-efficient one? Not necessarily.
Replacing your existing heating system with one that’s more efficient may well be a wise step, but it shouldn’t necessarily be your first step. You should first try to lower your heating requirements. Tighten up. Weatherize. Insulate. By reducing your heating needs, you may increase comfort and you may be able to get by with a significantly smaller — and less expensive — furnace or boiler.
The same arguments hold true with air conditioning. If you live in a warm climate with high cooling requirements, it makes a lot of sense to tighten up the house to reduce your cooling load before investing in new air conditioning equipment.
A tight, well-insulated house saves energy and allows you to get by with smaller capacity heating and air conditioning systems, and it is also more comfortable, with smaller temperature swings. No more cold drafts at your feet while temperatures at head level are a sweaty 80°F. With less of this temperature stratification during the winter months, you’ll even find yourself comfortable at a lower thermostat setting than you’re used to.
Before making major efficiency improvements to your house, find out from a pro where and why energy is being wasted and what you should do about it by getting an energy audit.