If your furnace is a mid-efficiency model, and the money for a new, high efficiency model simply isn’t in the budget, a retro-fit might be in order. If your furnace still has plenty of life left in it, the retro-fit could be a good way to save on natural gas prices.
One way to increase efficiency is to install an intermittent ignition device. However, these units require professional installation and cost about $250. Even though they can save you some in natural gas costs, they generally won’t pay for themselves for about a decade, so it may not give you the return on investment that you’re looking for. Another down side is that they may not save you anything if your equipment is too old.
One viable alternative may be shutting the furnace’s pilot light off in the spring and turning it on in the fall. This will definitely save you money in the short term since there’s no real investment – other than a little bit of sweat and time.
Another option may be to reduce the heating capacity of your furnace. First off, you’ll need to make sure that the modifications don’t violate building codes or void any manufacturer’s warranty. If the furnace is old, the warranty shouldn’t be an issue, but if it’s a newer model, you’ll want to check it out.
This is not a simple operation, so a professional will definitely need to be called in. What they are going to do is reduce the size of the orifice on the gas burner and the baffles, if needed. Again, this is something that should only be attempted by a qualified professional, but the modification should cost less than $100. And, it will definitely give you a substantial return on investment since the modification can save you up to 15% on the cost of gas.
Retro-fitting your furnace won’t net you the huge savings that installing a new, high efficiency furnace will, but it won’t cost you thousands of dollars either. It all comes down to what you can afford to do, but retro-fitting can be a great way to save money on natural gas while you save up for the new, high efficiency model.
Let’s say you pay the gas company an average of about $175 a month – higher in the winter, lower in the summer – over the course of a year. That’s an annual savings of $315, which means the modification has paid for itself in just about four months, and if natural gas prices go up, you’ll be saving even more.