What’s the Best Heating System for your Home?
Heating the house during the cold winter months is one of the most significant expenses encountered by homeowners. The EPA states that 42% of the energy used at home is for heating. While the cost for energy has increased, the improvements realized in energy efficiency of today’s heating systems offset those energy rates.
There are a variety of energy-efficient heating systems available for every spending plan that will keep you and your family warm this winter while still saving you cash. Here’s your overview of the most recent energy-efficient house heating systems.
Let’s discuss strategy first
The most crucial component of an energy-efficient home heating system isn’t actually the system itself, but how well your house is able to use the system’s output.
Sealing your home against leaks must be your first priority. Check around doors and windows, floors and walls, for any obvious leaks. Use weather stripping and caulk around doors and windows, install insulation where you can; in the walls and attic if possible. Plug any drafty spots. It will take a small investment but will be worth all your efforts when the cold winds start blowing and you’re snug in your insulated, draft-free home. The reduction in your utility bills should pay for the additions in no time.
Some cities employ energy auditors that will come to your home and help you locate leaks and drafts completely free of charge. Watch the following video for some pointers on how to conduct your own audit.
How to select from the most energy-efficient heating systems
Consider the following questions as you make the decision on your heating system.
What climate is typical in your winter?
If you usually experience cold, harsh winters, you’ll probably need an extremely efficient system to handle your home while minimizing your costs for the season.
In more temperate climates, a space heater or smaller sized zoned system might be sufficient for cooler days.
How much of your living space needs to be heated?
Are you heating your entire home or just some select spaces? A system with vents that can be closed or adjusted, allowing you to regulate the heat and which spaces are heated allows you the flexibility to manage which spaces are heated when. Another essential tool is the thermostat, keeping the system running only when it must to maintain your target temperature.
What kind of installation will the most energy-efficient house heating systems require?
Heating systems are either forced air or radiant. Radiant systems, while they are typically most effective, can be hard to install into an existing home.
How much space will a heating unit need?
Keep in mind the size of your home and how much heater you’ll actually need. A small house or apartment will not accommodate a big heating system. A backyard or some outdoor location must be available for outdoor systems like a heat pump.
What fuels should I expect to use and how much do they cost?
Typical fuel options are natural gas, propane, heating oil or electrical power, all of which can vary in price. Consider the lifetime expense of electric heating versus one powered by a petroleum-based fuel.
What are the renewable energy options?
A geothermal unit or solar technology solution may have a huge up-front cost, however there are cash incentives and rebates to think about. The lower month-to-month costs and the enhancement to your home’s value also helps to justify the expense. Should you decide to explore this direction, there are several eco-friendly energy companies to help you determine what system would be most appropriate for your circumstance.
Current energy-efficient heating systems
Now that we’ve discussed the types of energy-efficient heating systems, let’s explore those options more closely.
Energy-efficient boilers and furnaces
The newest boilers, gas and oil furnaces are ultra-efficient. They’ve been designed to easily take the place of your existing system.
- Furnaces deliver warmed air via a duct system to the rooms you choose to heat.
- Boilers deliver warmed water in houses heated with baseboard heaters, radiators, or radiant floor heat.
Newer models have an outstanding efficiency rating of 90-94%, saving you big on fuel. The cost savings may actually balance out the cost of changing your current system if it’s more than 10 years old.
Heat pump systems
One of the earth-friendliest and most energy-efficient system choices is the heat pump system. No fossil fuels are utilized, instead they pull heat from the air or ground and pump it to the home with an electric pump. This particular kind of system may also work as an air conditioner, pulling cool air during the summer.
There are two types of heat-pump systems: ground source and air source.
- Ground-source heating pumps are also known as geothermal systems. They are less common than the air-source heat pumps, and draw heat from the earth through pipelines buried roughly 6 to 8 feet underground.
- Air-source heat pumps draw natural heat from the atmosphere, even when it’s cold outside. They concentrate the heat and distribute it through pipes or a duct system throughout the home.
The ratio of BTU electric power used with an air-source heat pump to BTU of heat produced is 1:3. Using a ground-source system improves the ratio a bit, to 1:4.
Both types work for existing houses although air-source heat pumps are much easier and less costly to install, primarily because they don’t need underground excavation.
Solar heat systems
Solar power to warm your home is the least expensive and most earth-friendly way to warm your house, given that you’re using the sun’s free energy. The only potential issue is that it requires sunlight to work. This type of system might not be the best choice if you live in a region where winter is frequently cloudy and cold.
Solar hot air heating
A solar hot air system is a newer product and among the most convenient systems to set up. It’s probably the most cost-efficient method of heating your house and, based upon certification, can qualify for as much as a 30% federal rebate.
Since it relies on constant sunshine, solar hot air heating is the best option if you live in a temperate zone, or when it’s used as a backup or secondary heat source.
To function properly, solar collectors are installed on the south-facing walls of a home, where the sun should shine the most. The sun heats them up and when the collector reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, a small fan begins to pull cool air from the space into the collector, heating it up and pumping it back in the room.
Each collector panel can warm 500 square feet of your home. You can even install them yourself if you’re good with tools.
Solar thermal heater
This system can upgrade your existing radiant flooring, forced-air, baseboard hot water system, maximizing it’s efficiency.
For this system, solar collectors are installed on the roof and are connected to an indoor water tank. Pumps circulate the water from the tank to the solar collectors to be heated and pumped back to the tank, from which hot water is distributed to warm the home.
This system is more costly and can develop excess hot water that is squandered, so it may not be the very best for locations with short winters or milder climates.
Ensure your Investment Pays Off
Doing your research and finding the most effective system to heat your home efficiently with a well-planned, environmentally friendly system will reward you in comfort, residential or commercial property value, and long-term savings.
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