How should you heat your home?
Heating your home represents about 40% of your total energy consumption so when there is the need to install, repair or upgrade the equipment you should be very careful. There are tons of equipment out there, so it's easy to get lost and drown in the alternatives. That's why we want to help and guide you to get the option that truly satisfies your needs while also taking care of the environment. Let's take a look!
You can pick one energy source or a combination for your heating needs. There are modern furnaces that feed efficiently on natural gas, solar energy, electricity, biodiesel or biomass and you can complement that with a wood fireplace or stove.
To choose the greener solution, always go first with the renewable energy source like solar -passive or active-, biodiesel or biomass/wood. That will save money from utility bills, reduce your carbon footprint and even let you apply to some incentive programs for energy conversion.
Convert your existing heating system to a clean energy one is less costly than what many people think, so before repairing an old model that will become obsolete in a few seasons ask for a quote and financing options of a new one.
The other alternative to choose between heating options is the delivery system of the heat generated. In North America, most homes are heated by forced air, a good choice because the same ducts are used for heating and cooling and filters can be added to ventilate and purify air. The downside of it is that if your house is not already built with ducts, the installation can be messy and costly.
But there are other options that can keep you warm on winter like liquid pumped radiators. These systems, called “hydronic”, are more sophisticated than the old radiators from grandma's house and use hot water piped through tubes that are run under floorboards, through radiators or along baseboards, very quietly and efficiently.
Insulation is the key
What probably will surprise you the most is that almost all of those heating alternatives can't even begin to compare with one key solution - insulation. Like Lloyd Alter said “In the end, the best heating system is almost no heating system at all, and recognizing that when it comes to comfort, the house itself is the most important element of the heating system.”
Insulating walls and roofs, sealing windows and doors to avoid drafts, using curtains at night to save daylight captured heat and reversing your ceiling fans to winter usage are going to do more for a nice indoor temperature than a thermostat set to high.
Consult with a weatherization and insulation professional to know if there are any issues in your house that won’t let you take full advantage of a new heating system. This will save you time and money in the long run. Upgrading your home heating equipment is a big investment, so choose wisely the best option with your contractor and the help of this guide.