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What Is The Best Kind Of Heater For Your Home

By Karl Schultz

When it comes to kinds of heating systems there are many choices. Knowing which is most efficient heating system for you in the long run can be a difficult choice because there are a number of factors that determine what the best heating system for your home will be, including the area of the country you live in.

Oil Fired Heaters

Heating oil is much the same as diesel and is made largely from imported oil. Older homes in many parts of the country are heated by oil fired heaters and homeowners are subject to the possibility of rising oil prices. Oil prices are now determined by overseas buyer and are becoming independent of the U.S. dollar. For this reason we see the price of oil increase even as natural gas stays low. Replacing an oil fired heater is expensive though and many homeowners choose to keep paying for this more expensive form of heating rather than replace an entire system.

The Advantage Of Gas Home Heating Systems

While burning any kind of fossil fuel is far from being green, natural gas heating systems are more eco friendly that oil fired units. Gas heaters give off less particulate matter, emit less CO2 during combustion and use a resource that is locally available. The United States has, according to some estimates, enough natural gas to last over 200 years at today's consumption rates. New shale gas discoveries literally have the country flooded with cheap natural gas. These shale beds are numerous and are even located under much of the cold Northeastern United States. The Marcellus Shale lies under over 60% of Pennsylvania. For this reason natural gas should remain an economical heating method for many more years. Natural gas heating is efficient, converting up to 95% of the fuel into heat energy. Because of the long term outlook for natural gas prices a gas home heating system should be considered.  On the other hand, propane is largely a by product of crude oil refining. Propane gas is tied to the volatile price of oil and tends to be more expensive than natural gas. Where no natural gas lines are available it may be a viable alternative to oil fired heaters in climates where a heat pump is too inefficient due to outside temperatures

Are Wood Heaters The Most Eco Friendly Kind Of Home Heater?

As far as efficiency the burning of wood is among the least efficient means of producing heat. The ultimate source of heat in any fuel is hydrogen. Hydrogen is not that abundant in wood and this requires large amounts of it to be needed. If you live in a city you will have to transport the wood from a forest somewhere, and this requires energy as well. Wood heaters can be efficient, when a blower type of fire box is used, however in an ordinary fireplace most of the heat goes up the chimney. Wood heating is not the best kind of home heating system unless you live in the middle of a forest or where there is abundant and cheap wood for the taking. Variations of wood heaters use corn, wood pellets and other agricultural products. Like oil, these are subject to rising and falling commodity prices. Only if you live on a corn farm might a corn burning stove be a good choice for a home heater.

Advantages Of Heat Pumps For Home Heating

A heat pump is basically an air conditioner that can be reversed, pumping warm air inside the home. Because heat pumps need a fairly warm outside temperature, above freezing, to efficiently make hot air, they are not ideal for all climates. When the temperature goes below a certain threshold, say 30  Fahrenheit, the emergency heat strip kicks in. The emergency heat strip uses resistance to create heat from electricity. Resistance heaters are by far not the best kind of heater for your home. While they may be called efficient because they convert almost all of the electricity they use into heat, they require a lot of energy do do so. Electric space heaters are also not the best kind of home heating system because of the incredible amount of electricity they use. Because gas home heaters need to use the emergency backup heat strip often in very cold climates they are not a good choice for Northern homes. An alternative that will work however is a ground source heat pump.

Ground Source Heat Pumps May Be The Best Kind Of Heater For Your Home, If You Have Room

                                   Example of Heat Exchange Loop Buried In Ground                  

Ground source heat pumps are a very green way to heat your home. They are not for everyone though because you need a sizeable amount of outside space to install an underground loop of pipe or to drill several shallow wells. For this reason ground source heat pumps are installed mostly by rural homeowners and businesses with enough land.  Ground source heat pumps work by moving heat from the relatively warm soil underground into the home. A heat pump is reversible and can either heat or cool the home. My own home is heated and cooled with a ground source heat pump made by Tetco.

A trench is typically dug around the perimeter of the home and flexible plastic tubing is used to form a loop through which a substance like glycol is pumped to exchange heat with the soil. A similar system can be set up using vertical wells where a trench is not possible. A typical home may need as many as five shallow wells for a geothermal system. Ground source heat pumps are green heating systems because they efficiently transfer heat using electricity. That electricity can come from green sources on the grid and in part from rooftop solar.

In addition to being efficient, up to an equivalent of 25 SEER, a ground source heat pump can be tied into your home hot water heater. A "desuperheater" line off of the hot side of the compressor can be piped in a loop configuration with your hot water heater.

Is In Floor Radiant Heating The Best Home Heating System?

Radiant floor heating systems are very popular in northern climates because they provide a more even heat, keep floors warm to walk on and for children to play on and eliminate much of the heat distribution, dry air and dust problems associated with central air systems. Radiant heating is not a type of heater, it is a method of heat distribution. Any of the above systems can incorporate a radiant floor system to distribute the heat.

Other Kinds Of Heating Systems For Your Home

When building a new home the goal should be to make the home so efficient that you do not need much heating. Some owners of passive solar homes and insulated concrete form or ICF homes report that they can heat the entire home for as litte as $40 a month in the winter. Passive solar methods should be a part of every new home plan because they save money over the life of the home. You may want to check out active solar heating systems to supplement one of the above heater types for your home. Active systems use a rooftop collector to heat water that is used in radiant floor heating. Solar heating is an emerging technology so check with your local solar hot water company to see if they install solar home heating equipment.

 Don't be afraid to spend ten to thirty percent of the up front cost of building a home on energy efficiency because you will reap the benefits, as much as $300 a month or more, in utility savings. There are many government rebates through the Energy Star program that give new home builders as well as existing home owners rebates for more efficient home heaters and insulation. If you found this site helpful, please "like us" on Facebook, etc, or forward it to your friends here: Bookmark and Share

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