LESLIE: Jerry in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JERRY: Well, I burn fuel oil and it – I have hot water baseboard heat and my water is heated through the oil furnace. Well, the last time I got oil – it was about a month ago – it was $3.90 a gallon, so – which is pretty scary. And so I’m looking at some other types of ways to save fuel. You know, I thought about a fireplace insert, a hot water heater; and I’m just not sure if any of those things are good ways to save money or if I’m throwing good money after bad.
TOM: Well, instead of looking at your mechanical system, which is pretty expensive to change, have you thought about doing a home energy audit of your house, as it is now, to see if we can make your home more efficient?
JERRY: No, I never did think of that.
TOM: Yeah. You might want to think about doing that. You know, there are some sites online that can walk you through the do-it-yourself version. There are energy auditors out there that can do it professionally. And I would concentrate on trying to figure out how I could make my home more energy-efficient so you burn less fuel.
You know, having a hot water baseboard system is fantastic; I mean, it’s the best kind of heating system that you can have because it’s warm and it’s moist. The oil is expensive right now but other fuels are not going to make that big of a difference to you because you’d end up having to replace your system, your mechanical system, which would ruin the cost efficiency.
So I would think about improving insulation; I’d think about cutting back on drafts. In terms of a fireplace – well, do you have a fireplace right now?
JERRY: Yeah, I do.
TOM: And you talked about putting an insert into that? Well, you know, the damper on the fireplace, if it’s closed, that’s going to be as efficient as you can make that, with or without an insert, so that you’re not leaving it open all day long so the heat isn’t rushing out the chimney. But little things like this can make a difference on how much energy you use.
So I think, in your situation, I would concentrate on making the home as efficient as possible and then get an energy audit to help me do just that.
JERRY: Mm-hmm. OK. I’ll give that a whirl.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.