Converting boiler ignition could save fuel

Q. Can a Weil-McLain residential hot-water boiler be converted from an existing gas pilot to electric ignition? How much might it cost and what kind of fuel saving might be expected? Would insulating hot-water pipes in the basement contribute to reduced fuel bills?

C.E. Jesse Jr., Chicago

A. The boiler manufacturer's representative says that the gas pilot can be converted to an electric type. The cost might involve a day or two of labor at the very most. Check with a local heating contractor for a price.

The energy saving is about 2 percent from a gas to an electric pilot, and 12 percent more if a motorized tight-fitting damper is added. Again, check with a local contractor for the cost.

To insulate the hot-water pipes in a heated basement might save but little in fuel costs. Of course, hot-water pipes should be insulated in an unheated basement area.

If the basement foundation is partly aboveground, insulation there would be a significant fuel saver. Use Styrofoam against the masonry. Caulk the horizontal joint between the wood plate and the top of the foundation, and tightly insulate the space between the floor joists and the exterior blocking or rim joists.

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