Heating tips for homeowners
Make sure to have your heating system serviced regularly. It will keep it efficient and help you spot a problem before it becomes an emergency. You should service your systems:
- once a year for oil heat, right before heating season, and
- once every two to three years for gas heat.
Make your home more efficient
SEAL UP YOUR HOME FOR THE WINTER
State law requires you to have weather tight doors and windows. It will help you save money, energy, and increase the lifespan of your heating system. Here’s some tips for sealing up you home to keep it nice and cozy:
- Find the areas where air may be escaping your home.
- Use caulk or putty to seal cracks around windows, doors, the foundation, and molding.
- Install weather-stripping around doors and access to the attic.
- Make sure the flue on your fireplace has a tight seal. If you don't use the fireplace that often, you might want to seal it with a chimney block.
- Make sure your kitchen and bathroom vent dampers stay closed.
MAKe YOUR HOME MORE EFFICIENT
There are several energy efficiency assistance programs for homeowners. Learn about these programs at www.masssave.com, or call 617-635-SAVE (7283). You may be eligible for:
- a free energy audit
- incentives to insulate
- Energy Star lighting, or
- discounted appliances and heating systems.
To learn more about making your home more energy efficient and for cost-saving tips, visit Renew Boston.
Find help paying for fuel
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps homeowners and tenants pay for fuel. The program starts every year on November 1 and the amount of aid is based on your income. Call 1-800-632-8175 or visit their website to learn more.
The Salvation Army Good Neighbor Fund also helps income-eligible families pay for heat. Call 1-800-262-1320 or 617-542-5420. You can also visit the Salvation Army website.
Local oil co-ops can help homeowners buy fuel at lower costs. The state has a list of co-ops in Massachusetts on its website. You can also call 800-351-0077.
Check with your gas and electric company to see if they offer a winter payment plan. These plans take the high monthly costs in the winter and spread them out over the whole year.
Never let your oil tank go below 1/4 full or you will be charged a fee to bleed the tank before a refill. Contact at least three oil dealers before you commit. Some companies will let you lock in at a low price for the year.
Other heating tips
Frozen pipes happen often in the winter — make sure your pipes are insulated if they're exposed to cold. You should only use space heaters for a short time. Always keep them away from curtains, furniture, and clothing.
The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in the winter. More often, this is due to broken heating systems and unsafe methods of heating homes. The City requires you to have a carbon monoxide alarm. When temperatures drop below 45 degrees, the Cold Weather Response Team at the City is on call. To get the team’s help with housing, plumbing, and more, call 311.
If you're a property owner, you're required to give your tenants contact information in case of emergency. Learn more about your responsibilities as a landlord.
Protecting your rights as a consumer
Most of the oil dealers in Boston are honest and efficient. The City prevents oil companies from undercutting prices or using deceptive tactics.
The meters on oil trucks in Boston are sealed so each meter accurately measures oil volume. You're supposed to get a receipt from the oil company whenever you get a delivery. The law requires that the receipt includes the price, name, meter stamp, and amount of oil.
Consumer Affairs and Licensing protects your rights as a consumer in the City. If you feel you've been tricked by an oil company, contact the department at 617-635-4165.