Home Heating Systems
With a quick turn of a thermostat, you are able to easily bring more heat into your home. You walk away, enjoying the warmth, unconcerned with how it may affect your budget. That is, of course, until you receive your heating bill at the end of the month.
Gas and electricity are becoming more and more expensive, which directly affects the cost of heating your home. Investing in an energy efficient heating system could be a perfect solution for this problem. These systems include boilers, energy-efficient furnaces, radiant heating systems, tankless water heaters, and solar heating systems.
Home Heating Systems
We will discuss a few of the most commonly used heating systems in this article, and detail whether they are energy efficient or not. These include forced air, heat pumps, and hydronic heating systems.
Forced Air Heating Systems
These traditional systems use gas burners that heat a large metal chamber. The heated air within the chamber is blown with an electrical fan into air ducts. The ducts distribute the air throughout your home, heating various locations.
Homeowners can face a variety of issues with forced air systems, including hot and cold areas and draftiness. If your home has vaulted ceilings, you should be wary of employing this system. Hot air rises, which could cause the air near the ceiling to be vastly different than the air at the floor. Greater differences in height and temperature lead to increased energy wasting and less comfort for you and your family.
Heat Pump Systems
Another widely used heating system is a heat pump furnace. Unlike baseboard heaters, heat pumps don't use an electric coil to generate heat. This system uses an electric motor to pump heated air from surrounding water and air into the ducts of your home.
Heat pumps are a more complex system than forced air, but are far more efficient. More energy is supplied than consumed, which means that they can circulate more air and lost far longer than many alternative choices.
Hydronic Heating Systems
These systems are called "hydronic" due to their use of water. They can be used with forced air or radiant heating systems.
Hydronic Forced Air Heating
In this system, heated water is passed through several narrow baseboard-style radiating units. A blower pushes air across the heated water, and then distributes it to areas within your home.
Even more than gas powered, forced air systems, hydronic forced air can lead to extended hot and cold spells. You will experience the same loss in efficiency, especially with high, vaulted ceilings.
Radiant Heating Systems
Radiant systems also use heated water to generate heat; however, in this system, the heated water is distributed directly to your living area, running through pipes in your floors or walls. The heat radiates from these surfaces, giving you warmer floors than forced air systems.
Unfortunately, radiant systems can be more expensive to install and maintain than other systems. However, they provide a more constant stream of heat, while saving you 20% to 40% on your heating bills. Radiant systems have some additional benefits as well.
- They leave the natural humidity in the air, eliminating the need to use humidifiers.
- You can divide radiant systems into different heating zones, increasing their efficiency.
- You do not have to deal with heating ducts in your walls and baseboards.
- Dust is not circulated throughout the house as it is with forced air systems.
- You will have warm floors on even the chilliest days.
Radiant System Boilers
A key to making a radiant system work, and maximizing its efficiency is to use the correct boiler. A boiler heats the water that is distributed throughout a radiant system. If the boiler is unable to heat the water fast enough to deal with the volume of piping in your home, you will be left with an inconsistent temperature.
You can increase the efficiency of a radiant system even further by hooking up an individual water heater to your boiler. This "ladder" system will allow you to heat up to 200 gallons of water at an 87% efficiency rating. This is a perfect solution if your boiler is having a tough time keeping up with your heating needs.
Solar Water Heating Systems
Another, less commonly used, heating option is a solar water heating system. Solar panels are used to harness the energy of the sun, which heats water in the same way as other hydronic systems. Advanced technologies have created solar water heaters that are less expensive and easier to install than in the past. They can be expensive initially, but provide heat at an extremely low operating cost.
There are many heating options out there, some of which are more energy efficient than others. When deciding on the ideal heating plan for your home, you should decide on how much you are willing to pay upfront, your ongoing operating costs, and the efficiency of the system. In this way, you can simply turn the thermostat and know you are receiving exactly what you were looking for.