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Home Heating Systems: All Heat Is Not Created Equal

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By : Carlos Montes    99 or more times read
With so many different home heating methods on the market, it's best to have a general overview of what your options are before getting bogged done in specifics.

Heating with Oil

More common in older homes and homes in rural areas, oil burning furnaces today are far more efficient and less polluting than their predecessors.

Gas furnaces

There is a wide range of brands for gas furnaces - basically, they all offer similar features, capabilities, and efficiencies. If you buy a gas furnace, ensure that the furnace is the right size to heat your home. It should be large enough to heat your home but not so large that it cycles on and off frequently, wearing out the components and wasting energy.

Pellet- and wood-burning stoves

Stoves are usually used as a way to heat a single room. An eco-friendly alternative to nonrenewable resources, wood and wood pellets do not burn as cleanly as gas or oil and require constant attention - loading, lighting, tending, and cleaning. However, stoves are far more efficient than fire places which are roughly 25% efficient.

Pellet-burning devices generally require electricity to operate, whereas wood-burning stoves are completely off the grid.

Heat Pumps / Heating and Cooling Systems

Also called geothermal heating systems or ground source heat pumps, these systems use natural heat from the earth and produce no emissions. Only relying on a small amount of electricity to power an air-circulating fan, heat pumps effectively act as both heaters and air conditioners.

Installing a heat pump may reduce your home insurance costs. As well, installing a heat pump may qualify you for certain government grants.

Hydroponic Heating Systems

Hydroponic heating systems use a series of tubes that circulate heated fluid through a concrete or wood-framed floor system. The warmed floors release heat into the home. The fluid returns to the heating source - any kind of hot water heater - where it is re-heated.

Solar heating

Evacuated solar heat tubes are a type of solar boiler system that uses thick barium oxide glass vacuum tubes in which an absorber collects and transfers the sun's infrared radiation to water running through a center tube in the absorber. This system can be used for hot water production and floor heating. Highly efficient, solar heating systems are generally easy to install, operate, and maintain.

Notes of Interest:

  1. Common heating methods ranked from least to most expensive, include: a) wood and coal, b) natural gas, c) pellets, d) oil, e) propane, and f) electric furnaces, baseboards, and space heaters.

  2. Typical duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. If you are using a system that requires ducts, one of your best investments will be to ensure that the ducts are properly sealed and insulated and that your duct system is designed to reduce temperature disparities between rooms.

  3. Incorrect installation of any heating system can reduce efficiency.

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