Heating your home during the coldest winter months can be challenging. Traditional heating methods may not work for you or be cost-effective. If you are wondering what other options you may have, here are some alternative ways to bring warmth into your home.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the return on your investment for installing a solar heating system can be as little as 3-6 years. They are growing in popularity and affordability across the United States. As more consumers choose to “go green,” so does the popularity of Solar Heating. These heating and cooling systems use thermal energy directly from the sun instead of electricity, oil, or natural gas. Most of these systems are comprised of a solar collector, insulated piping, and a hot water storage tank. Solar collector panels are installed on the exterior of the home (usually on a wall with southern exposure). Solar heating systems are a form of renewable energy that can help decrease dependency on imported fuels and they are considered to be environmentally friendly. Many states are offering tax incentives to install solar systems.
Geothermal heat pumps are generally quieter than traditional heating systems and don’t depend on the temperature of the outside air. Using the temperature of the earth, which remains at a fairly constant temperature just a few feet below, geothermal heat pumps exchange heat with the earth itself instead of the outside air. These systems need little maintenance and have a long lifespan. Using geothermal heating allows the homeowner to save energy and heating costs even though the initial installation of a geothermal system can be significantly more expensive than traditional air-source systems.
Radiant Floor Heat
Heating your home using radiant floor heat is energy efficient and comfortable. It is quickly becoming one of the preferred methods for many home builders today. Most of the equipment needed is installed beneath the floor, so there aren’t any registers or radiators to interfere with household furniture or floor space. Radiant heating is more effective than some other heating types because it eliminates the heat lost through ductwork. It is quiet to operate and less likely to spread allergens than forced air systems. Contrary to popular belief radiant heating systems do not need to be installed when a house is under construction. There are innovations available today that make it possible to retrofit radiant heating systems into existing homes. There are both electric radiant systems that use cables and hydronic radiant systems that use water inside the tubing. Programmable thermostats can be used with some radiant heating systems too.
If you live in a milder climate, where temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees, a hybrid heating system may be cost-effective. Hybrid systems primarily use electricity but have a secondary fuel source which is often natural gas. This secondary source switches on during periods of high demand. Many hybrid systems use an outdoor sensor and thermostat to activate the secondary source when temperatures begin to fall. Natural gas is usually cheaper than electricity; therefore hybrid systems can be less expensive to operate than all-electric systems.
Wood stoves are primarily used as a supplemental heat source that reduces dependency on other types of energy. It can also be used to heat the entire house. Woodstove heating is usually less expensive than other heat sources such as gas, oil, or electricity and it is a renewable energy source. The United States Environmental Protection Agency mandates following their regulations, as well as local building and fire codes when installing a wood stove. In addition to wood stoves, you can also install inserts into existing fireplaces that supply energy-efficient heat.
Finding alternative ways to heat your home may be the solution you need to help curb your overall energy use. A good rule of thumb when heating your home is to ask yourself: “how much of my home actually needs to be warm?” It is economical to only heat the parts of your home where you plan to be. It makes sense to save on heating costs by creating a comfortable area of your home where the temperature can be controlled to your liking. It may be as simple as adding layers to your clothing or shifting your workspace closer to your heating source. It can also be as complex as overhauling your entire home system. Whatever change is needed it is better to begin now so you and your family can enjoy the comforts of a warmer, cozier place to live.