Choosing The Right Home Heating SystemSelecting the best and most effective home heating system is crucial. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct proper research and gather the necessary information before making a purchase. There are several considerations an individual needs to factor. These include the following.
The Distribution System
When it comes to the home’s heat distribution system, one can either choose the forced air or the hydronic heating systems. The forced-air heating system works by drawing warm air into the house through air ducts and registers. As the name suggests, hydronic heating systems use hot water distributed through copper or plastic piping on baseboard radiators.
The forced air also helps to heat the room and humidify the air quickly. The disadvantage with this method is that an individual requires to have ducts in place to use it. In the event of a leak, heat loss can raise the heating cost to 20-30%.
The hydronic system can be zoned so that an individual only uses them where they want to and produce less noise. They can be used to heat domestic water and have a low maintenance cost. They cannot allow central air conditioning or ventilation and usually take longer in heating rooms than the forced air system.
Fuel sources that are more energy efficient will have a better impact on the associated operating costs. Whereas the initial cost can significantly influence the choice of a heating system, the efficiency of the energy source will determine the long-term cost.
In order for an individual to determine the energy efficiency of a system, the AFUE and HSPF rating scores are used. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency used in fuel oil, propane and natural gas. Whereas HSPF means Heating Season Performance Factor used in electric heat pumps.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
The system uses underground temperature to heat the water in closed loops and release it in the home. Its efficiency is expressed as a coefficient of performance (COP). Modern geothermal heat pumps have COP ranging between 2.5 and 4. A rating of 3 COP is equivalent to a 10 HSPF. The installation of this system requires excavation and can be very expensive.
When choosing a home heating system, it is essential to take note of its size. The kind of space that a person wants to heat will determine the kind of heating system that will work best. When heating the whole house, it would be reasonable to go for a natural furnace instead of an electric heater.
It would also be more logical if a room heater is used for a single room instead of a geothermal heat pump. Zoning functionalities would come in handy when only certain areas need to be heated instead of the whole house.
The size of the heating system can also determine the choice. Selecting an oversize forced air system can lead to bursts of hot air that may be uncomfortable to bear. A small electric heater may not be effective in a large area. A plan with dimensions of the spaces that need to be heated can help come up with the ideal heating system for the home.
Location and Fuel Source
Selecting the right type of fuel can help save the utility bills associated with a heating system. The locality will also play a significant role in determining the fuel type since some fuels can be easily accessed than others. Natural gas, for instance, is common in most areas, but LP gas or propane could be a better alternative for places without readily available natural gas.
A heating system that has the capability of using more than one fuel source can come in handy. In case one fuel source is not available, users can easily switch to another source. Therefore, it is important for homeowners to consult with their preferred heating contractor to settle on a fuel source with sensible operation cost estimates.
The layout of the house and the spaces that require heating can influence the cost of the heating system. Acquisition of a heating system will be pegged on where exactly it shall heat. The more the space of heating, the more one might require a bigger system and the higher the cost.
The brand and quality of the heating system will influence the cost of the heating system.
Manufacturers with a robust warranty option have confidence in their products’ quality and may require fewer repairs and high efficiency in heating purposes. Brands with very cheap options may compromise on quality and have inefficiencies. Other factors that may influence the cost may include installation, maintenance and fuel cost.
Natural Gas Furnace/ Central Heating System
It utilizes natural gas but can run on electricity and propane. According to AFUE ratings, natural gas, propane and oil furnace have efficiencies ranging between 78 and 96%. Propane and natural gas have the highest efficiencies of about 90 to 96%.
Natural gas has a high AFUE rating with only 6% used in combustion while 94% is directed to heating the house. The advantage of these energy sources is that they vent combustion gases to the side walls adding more warmth to the home.
Most of the furnaces have AFUE ratings of 60% and above, with a life expectancy of 15-30 years depending on care and maintenance. It is advisable to replace a unit with less than 80% AFUE rating to save on utility bills and stay warmer.
As the name suggests, they operate by heating water, not necessarily to boiling point and commonly use oil or natural gas. They can also use electricity, propane and biodiesels. These systems heat and store water, therefore, could provide hot water for domestic purposes. The average AFUE rating is about 80% for the new models, while ancient boilers have 55-65% AFUEs.
Electric Space Heaters
They use electricity to heat the room by converting electric current into heat. The heat is then distributed into the room. The heaters work very fast and reverse the refrigerant cycle in heating. Despite their efficiency, it is advisable to acquire a model with a 9 HSPF rating or higher to save on the energy cost.
Most people look forward to summer to enjoy the long afternoons on the beach, pool parties, or sunset barbeques. However, you can’t withstand the heat for so long, and working, sleeping, or living in such conditions may be somewhat uncomfortable. An air conditioning unit is essential in maintaining good indoor air quality.
On hotter summer days, the outdoor temperature is very high, making it harder for the system to eject indoor heat. It thus needs to work extra hard to give the desired effects. As a result, it consumes more energy resulting in higher utility bills. Luckily, here are useful tactics that you can use to run your air conditioner better at a lower cost as the temperature rises.
Service Your Unit
First, schedule an appointment with a HAVC professional to inspect and fix your unit before summer hits. He will help identify any issue that could affect efficiency, make adjustments, and clean the system. The maintenance services extend the life of your air conditioning system and reduce utility bills.
Clean The Outdoor Unit
For your system to operate satisfactorily, the outdoor units require free and unobstructed air circulation. When blocked by debris or overgrown vegetation, it tends to work harder and uses up more energy.
Hence, it would be best to cut the tall grass, sweep off any leaves, and uproot weeds that grow around the unit. Besides making your home look attractive, it improves your system’s efficiency.
Insulate The Ductwork
Ensure that the ductwork is sealed so that it doesn’t leak your conditioned air. You can fix it using duct-sealing tape, but seek professional help for extensive damages. Also, cover up any exposed part of the duct. If it gets into contact with hotter elements, the cold air in the duct might warm up before it gets into your room.
Increase Temperature On The Thermostat
Making adjustments in your thermostat’s temperature will help you save on both energy and money. Increase it by five to eight degrees during the summer months. On the other hand, your thermostat placement dramatically affects how well your air conditioning system will work.
Avoid placing it near heat-producing equipment like lamps or next to a hot window. It quickly senses the heat, and your unit will think that the room is scorching than it is; thus, it runs longer.
Additionally, it would be wise to invest in a smart thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature to save energy. It can even detect the absence or presence of people in the room to lower or raise the temperature as required. You can still connect it with wifi if you wish to adjust the temperature remotely from your device.
Keep Curtains, Windows And Blinds Closed
When the sun shines directly into your house during hot summer days, it heats the indoor air. Close the windows, blinds, and curtains to block the direct entry of sun radiation. It protects your system from having to work too hard. Besides, it insulates the window so that the cold air from your unit won’t escape ensuring that your house remains cool all day long.
Fix Any Leaks
Further, seal any openings from the doors, windows, attics, or ceiling. It prevents warm air from leaking into the house and cold air from escaping. Remember that your system will need to work more to compensate for the lost air. You can apply weather stripping or caulking on these cracks, or you can opt to invest in energy-efficient windows.
Clean And Change The Filters
During summer, dust and allergens regularly rotate and can easily clog your filters. If you fail to address this, it may result in expensive repairs in the future. Hence, ensure that you check the filters very often. You also need to replace them after six months or three if you reside in very dusty areas or keep shedding pets.
Keep The A/C In A Shade
The summer heat may cause huge impacts on the outdoor unit. Thus, keep the outside condenser in the shade to give your AC an easier time to cool the air. However, be careful so as not to block airflow.
Install A Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan works perfectly together with the air conditioning unit. It helps recirculate the cold air to create a wind-chill effect for maximum comfort. You will feel more relaxed if the air room circulates freely, even if the house is a bit hot.
Clean The Indoor Vent
You need to continually check on the vents to ensure that no debris blocks airflow. They help distribute the cold air throughout the house, and once clogged, you have to run your unit longer. Vacuum them often and keep away items that could block the vents impeding airflow.
Clear The Drain Line
You also need to keep the drain line clear. Once blocked, it causes severe problems in your unit. You will find it next to the unit’s indoor cooling coil above the furnace, most likely in the basement. To clean it, flush a cup of chlorine bleach into the drain line and rinse it with enough water.
Avoid Using Heat Emitting Machines During The Day
Some equipment produces vast amounts of heat that contribute to additional warmth in your house. Your system will thus have to work more for longer hours. To prevent that, use those appliances when the sun goes down to ease your unit’s workload. The equipment includes;
- Washing machine
Upgrade Your Unit
After using all the above solutions and your system still seem ineffective, it might be time to upgrade. Consider replacing your older unit with a more energy-efficient one that uses less energy to save on cooling costs. Some models even allow you to individualize temperature control in various rooms.
As the hot season draws closer, it would be best to prepare your system for the work ahead. Like all running machines, your air conditioning system requires regular maintenance. Remember to clean the filters and drains and allow unobstructed airflow into the unit. Hopefully, the above guide will help your system operate efficiently throughout the summer without spending a lot of money.