Heat source options: The last thing you want to think about, but better now when it’s not an emergency

Now that was a cold, wet winter. If your heater has worked overtime this year and is on its last legs, it might be time to consider a replacement. Addressing this in the spring and summer months is a good idea, prices are lower and there is a better chance providers will have time in their schedule. But what is the best home heating solution for you? Let’s examine the most popular options:

  • Furnace – Furnaces heat air utilizing natural gas, propane, heating oil, or electricity and distribute it through the home through a system of ducts. Furnaces are usually between 59-98.5% efficient depending on a number of factors including the age of the unit. They usually last between 15-30 years.
  • Boiler – A boiler heats water and provides heat or steam as heat which is distributed through pipes to radiators or radiant floor systems. Boilers are between 50-90% efficient and also last between 15-30 years. They can be fueled with natural gas, propane, heating oil, biodiesel, and electricity.

Central furnace or boiler efficiency is measured by AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This allows consumers to evaluate the efficiencies of the different models and fuel types. The AFUE is the ratio of annual heat output compared to the annual fossil fuel energy consumed. For example, a rate of 93% means that 93% of the fuel used becomes heat for the home while the other 7% escapes or is otherwise used to make that 93%. New high-efficiency heating systems can have between 90%-98.5% AFUE. One thing to note when you are considering the different system options is if you don’t have a system of ducts or radiators in place already, retrofitting these into the home will be expensive.

Sweet happy living room
  • Heat Pump – Heat pumps are units that are placed outside and pull heat from the surrounding air to warm the home. One big benefit of a heat pump is that it can also be used to cool a home in the summer. The efficiency is measured in HSPF (which measures the ratio of BTUs of heat output to watts of electrical energy consumed and stands for Heating Season Performance Factor) and these units are rated between 6.8-10. Heat pumps are usually fueled by electricity but some utilize geothermal energy. Heat pumps last an average of 15 years.
  • Active Solar Heating – This is an up-and-coming technology which works with the sun. The sun heats water or the air to either deliver heat immediately or it save it for future use. Depending on the area, a second system may be required in the event that not enough heat is stored. However, if you are a fan of solar energy, the energy used to power any of the above units can come from solar panels!

There are also single room heating and cooling options that you might come across. And remember! Many local utilities offer financial incentives to upgrade your unit or change fuel types, so check into those available rebates when replacing your unit.

Questions about what buyers are looking for in terms of heating options and efficiencies? Let’s talk!


Source: https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-heating


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