steam boiler oil consumption

i have a 85 year old 4000 sq. foot masonary with no insulation in the walls and insulation blown into the attic. the windows are old. my boiler is an oil fired weil mclane from the early 70's rated for 1500 ft of steam. i have been burning about 3500 gallons a year in northeastern PA. i'm trying to figure out if there is something wrong with my boiler or vents etc. i know my house could be better insulated but, given the current insulation situation is 3500 gallons a reasonable amount of oil to burn? Could heat be escaping somewhere in pipes, vents? i have asked professionals to look at my boiler and have received several answers. most have not spent much time really examining my steam system. some say it should be replaced, some say it is fine and the issue is insulation related. any ideas?
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For the size, age, and condition of the house, 3500 gallons is not unreasonable. I'd start looking at things like new windows, adding insulation, sealing up any possible leaks. I don't know what the interior walls are like, but I'd certainly look at insulating them somehow. You can probably shave 25% to 50% of the oil usage. Better to put that $2000 a year savings into improving the house and your comfort instead of just buying oil.
If the burner is operating properly, it may be close to efficiency of some of the newer units and that is not going to save much. The old Wild McLanes are still a pretty good boiler.
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thank you for your advice. do you know of the best way to determine where i'm losing heat. are there any devices that can determine what parts of your home are losing the most heat?
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Thee are a few ways, depending on how much you want to invest.
Some utility companies offer low or no cost energy audits. They will inspect and make recommendations. Some private firms offer more extensive testing and take thermographic photos, put wind machines in the door to find leaks, etc. This runs into hundreds of dollars. Start with some research and common sense by caulking, sealing, adding insulation where possible, check windows for drafts, etc.
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Seal up the entire house and get new doors and windows. This includes the basement and attic. Talk to an insulation contractor about spray foam in the walls. It won't be cheap, but the savings can be great. Spray foam in walls is better than blown in insulation because it doesn't settle. If the boiler has been using about the same amount of oil for many years now, then the problem probably is not the boiler. If you have steam leaks, then get them fixed. Before you replace the boiler, look into a new flame retention burner, and make sure the heater is cleaned every year. Before you install a new steam boiler, look into changing to hot water. Two pipe steam is easily changed to hot water, but one pipe steam can be difficult and costly to change to hot water. If you decide on a new steam boiler, find someone who has experience on steam. The new steam boilers tend to hold less water, and certain provisions must be made for this.

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My father in-law has a house in Maryland (not as cold as your area) that is 1800 square feet and he goes through aboit 1000 gallons during the winter, so your consumption sounds about right. Probably nothing wrong with the system. Sounds like you are heating the surrounding real estate.
Follow some of the suggestions from Bob and Ed and you could probably knock off quite a bit of that oil usage.
Or you could move to Florida...
;-]
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You boiler is probably 70-80% efficent on steady state running but overall 60% efficient, there are 95% efficient condensing boilers out, you could save 40% with a new unit, 10-25% with top line windows, and depending on how much insulation you can shove in 5-40%. I heat 1800sq ft zone 5 to -15f, last years yearly Ng was 465$, and everything is Ng. You have alot of room to improve but it costs to do it.
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Do they make a 95% efficient condensing steam boiler?

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I just googled condensing oil boilers and saw a few. I did not research them closely, a system 2000 is up to 87%, HW boilers definatly go to 98-99% with 96% being easily found, Steam is another issue altogether. Operating temp vs efficiency on modulating boilers varies max efficiency, being at lower water temps on some units. Point is there are alot of ways to save, and my several boiler guys always recommend whats easy for them and what they sell, not what I want or need, Today and the future supply of Ng are going to to stay tight with high prices since no real new drilling is going on, Soon we will be importing more LNG because of dam invironmentalists blocking drilling we all are paying out the ass. Anwar is the lastest loss to large reserves, and Im never going there to see it, its to dam cold there. These high and higher Ng prices are here to stay.
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what do you mean by 60% overall? i had it tested and i was told it is 74% efficient. but now i'm confused.
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You're technician told you the 'steady state efficiency'. He's talking about 'seasonal efficiency". Older boilers have more standby loss when they're not running. You can save money by installing an automatic vent damper which stops natural draft from sending heat up your chimney when it isn't running.

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Could well mean 74% while burner is lit. If duty-cycle (% of time firing) is low, much heat that's been absorbed by innards of furnace (making it literally glow) is sucked up the stack by convection. This is the selling-point for automatic stack-damper.
But 99% oil-fired boiler? I'm from Missouri on that, Rans. 85% while lit, maybe.
HTH, J
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There is the afue rating, the boilers design efficiency, most old units are 70-80% and this to measure is extremely difficult to do as gas consumption has to be measured, among many other parameters, so people guess by knowing the design, your tech measured burner efficiency not overall system. There is design heat loss and time to heat to steam figures that come into it. New boilers are smaller ,smaller boilers heat smaller amounts of water so less fuel is waisted up the chimney. An example is Ng tankless water heaters,[and many can be used as boilerslike the Takagi TH1] have an efficiency of 94% but have an Energy Factor of 92% where as the best Sears Ng HW tank has an Energy factor of 63 for Ng. Same theory for boilers, Your burner may rate tested 95% but overall efficiency could be 50%, So you could save 50% by upgrading if you know what you are looking for. Problem is salesman sell what they have and know, so now you have Google.
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I've seen that with gas, but I've not seen any oil burners that efficient. What brands?
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Ransley, This is a STEAM boiler. I have never heard of a STEAM boiler that efficient. Only hot water boilers get that efficient.
Stretch
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