For many people, heating expenses are a headache during the winter months. An energy-efficient heating system can reduce your heating expenses and your overall carbon footprint. This post aims to provide some helpful information about heating systems in general and help you choose the most efficient home heating system.
High-efficiency models are cost-effective than lower-efficient models. Some models can even cut the expenses by 70%. At the outset, high-efficiency models are expensive, but they can save money in the long run.
Why Choose An Energy-Efficient Heating System?
Whether you choose a highly efficient or conventional model, make sure you select an appropriately sized unit. Otherwise, it will not meet your heating needs. Calculating your heating load is an essential part of the process. An Experienced HVAC professional can do that for you.
There are three main types of energy-efficient heating systems for residential homes: heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers.
If you live in a region with a moderate climate, a heat pump can be the most efficient home heating system. These heating systems are environmentally friendly. They provide effective heating while using less electricity. To generate heat, they do not use fossil fuels.
Heat pumps are mainly of two types. Here they are:
Air-source heat pumps
The unit captures heat from the indoor air during the summer and releases the heat into the outdoor air. During the winter, it does the opposite. Its outdoor unit absorbs heat from the air and then releases the heat indoors, making the indoor air warm.
Geothermal heat pumps
The primary mechanism of a geothermal heat pump is similar to that of an air-source heat pump. The difference is that a geothermal system captures heat from soil or water. A series of pipes buried a few feet in the soil capture heat from the ground.
Geothermal systems are also known as ground source heat pumps. While not as common as air-source heat pumps, they are more efficient.
In recent decades, there have been radical improvements in the technology of geothermal heat pumps. They are environmentally friendly. Initially, installing a geothermal unit may not be cheap, but it can dramatically cut your heating bills. These heat pumps also require relatively less maintenance than other types of units.
A residential furnace is the second most efficient home heating system. In Alberta, forced air gas furnaces are by far the most common heating systems. About 80% of Alberta homes have a gas furnace. Newer models are significantly more efficient. There are three types of furnaces:
The vast majority of furnaces use natural gas as fuel. Local utility companies supply gas through supply pipes. There is a reason why gas furnaces are so plentiful: they are cost-effective compared to furnaces run by oil or electricity.
Very few homes use oil furnaces in Alberta. Not only does oil cost more than gas, you require a tank to store the fuel.
About 10% of Alberta homes use an electric furnace. Since they use electricity to generate heat, they do not produce exhaust gases. Electric furnaces are cheaper to install, easier to maintain, and quieter to operate.
On the other hand, they are not as efficient as gas furnaces.
Although not as common as furnaces in Alberta, boilers are a great option. High-efficiency boilers have AFUE ratings of around 90%.
Boilers produce hot water and then circulate it through radiators and pipes inside your home. Condensing boilers, which come with two heat exchangers, are highly efficient.
Improving the Efficiency of a Home Heating System
Even if you have bought the most efficient home heating system, you must pay attention to some external factors. Here are some factors responsible for improving the efficiency of heating systems:
- Sealing and Airtightness: To enhance the efficiency of your home heating system, find out and seal cracks, holes, and gaps in your house. You may find them where the foundation or attic connects with the house frame. To close the openings, you can use caulking.
- Ductwork: The efficiency of your home heating systems greatly depends on your ductwork. The system will end up losing much heat if there are leaks in the ducts. To prevent air loss, seal the connections between duct sections with metal-backed tape or metal screws.
- Controls: You have more control over the operations of a heating system if it has programmable thermostats. A smart thermostat increases heating automatically before you return from work. The system learns from your preferences and habits. Thus it not only improves efficiency but also saves energy.
Choosing the Most Efficient Home Heating System
Before purchasing a new heating system, it is vital to understand the basics of Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). An AFUE rating of 85% is considered good. No matter what type of heating system you are using, make sure it has a high rating of AFUE.
It is also essential to figure out what type of system you need based on where you live and the architecture of your home.
An HVAC technician can help you choose the right type of heating system for your home.
Most Efficient Home Heating System – Final Thoughts
For a host of reasons, people worldwide are showing interest in energy-efficient home heating systems. While most modern units are energy-efficient, the level of efficiency dramatically depends on the type of unit. We hope now you have a better understanding of different heating systems and will make an informed decision.