ECM: Space Heating & Cooling

H2. Convert to Electronic Ignition


When the pilot light of a gas-fired boiler or furnace burns constantly, energy is wasted. This type of pilot light can be replaced with an automatic electric ignition that ignites the pilot only when the thermostat calls for the furnace to be fired. Many companies make pilot ignition retrofit systems that can be easily installed by skilled technicians.


  • Single-family and multifamily buildings
  • Natural gas-fired furnaces and boilers with standing pilot lights


  • Electronic spark ignition
  • Hot surface ignitor


  • New equipment should be properly tested and certified for safety.
  • A replacement ignition system should provide for complete summer shutdown.
  • Perform a life-cycle cost analysis prior to replacing major system components.
  • Other HVAC system energy conservation measures should be evaluated as alternatives or complements to this measure.


  • Standing pilot lights unnecessarily burn approximately 6 therms of gas per month, and cost approximately $36 annually to operate.
  • Replacement ignition systems provide for complete summer shutdown.


Energy Conservation for Housing – A Workbook, HUD, September 1998. Pages 7-45 through7-47 address converting standing pilot lights to electronic ignition.