The most common boiler used for home heating is usually a hot water boiler. A hot water boiler is basically a big tank in which water heated to a high temperature. Once the water has been heated it will be pumped throughout the house for heat.
The water heats the rooms in the house through devices called radiators. In most homes a radiator consists of a small pipe that runs along the baseboard and is usually covered. The radiator has grill shaped devices on it that exchange heat with the air.
In some older homes, radiators may be large metal accordion shaped constructs. These work in much the same way but they take up a lot of room.
Other kinds of radiators such as wall panels and selecting radiators are also available. The size and kind of radiator is often determined by the temperature in the area where the home is located.
How a Hot Water Boiler Works
Most hot water boilers work by having the water heated through the burning of a fuel. In most homes this will be natural gas or propane although oil fired boilers can still be found in some areas. Wood fired boilers are also making a come back in some rural areas.
In gas fired boilers, the gas in a burner heats the water. The flame that heats up the water is usually lit by a pilot light. Wood and oil boilers will have a different mechanism.
Many of the older boilers found in homes in the Midwest and the Northeast will have been converted from oil or coal burning to gas burning. These boilers are often too large and very efficient.
Reducing Energy Costs
The best way to reduce energy costs with a hot water boiler will be to simply install a new boiler. New boilers will usually be smaller and more efficient so they will burn less fuel. They also have such features as intermittent ignition devices and aquastats that can help a homeowner save money.
A device that can help a homeowner with a hot water boiler save a lot of money is an aquastat. This is a thermostat that adjusts the temperature of the water in the boiler as the temperature goes up and down outside. This can help a homeowner reduce costs because it will the temperature as it gets warmer outside. This should reduce the amount of fuel the boiler burns. An aquastat can usually be added to most existing boilers.
Another device that can save money is a intermittent ignition device. This device turns the pilot light off when the boiler isn’t in use which can also save money.
A person can also save money by turning the pilot light on an older boiler off in warmer weather. Turning down the water temperature as the temperature outside gets warmer can also help a family save money.
In some older homes the boiler may also be used to heat water for bathing. Another way to save money would be to install a modern hot water heat in addition to the boiler. Operating a separate hot water heat, especially a modern energy efficient model can be cheaper than using a boiler to heat water for non heating purposes.