words Al Woods
Home heating accounts for about 13% of an average American’s energy expenditure. This percentage may seem low, but it amounts to nearly four times as much energy as an average household consumes in food per year. Simply reducing our dependence on conventional fuels for home heating could significantly reduce our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
There are various ways to heat your home, each with advantages and disadvantages. The most efficient way to heat your home will depend on your climate, the size and layout of your home, and your budget. Here is a brief overview of the most common methods of heating your home.
1. Heating With Tankless Water Heater
A tankless water heater is an energy-efficient way to heat your home. The water heater uses electricity or natural gas to heat your home to make the water hotter. Still, it will only use as much energy as is necessary for heating water on demand on each batch of water. This makes tankless water heaters up to 6 times more efficient than storage-type electric water heaters. However, some people are wary of storing hot water in a tank because they are afraid that if the power goes out, they will not have access to hot water even when they need it. The tankless design prevents this issue by providing on-demand hot water when you turn on the tap instead of using electricity all day long so that you can take a shower when you get home from work.
2. Conventional Fuels
Conventional fuels such as oil, propane, and electricity are all options for heating your home. Conventional fuels are relatively efficient when used in properly-sized appliances, but they can be expensive to install and operate. While they may be the cheapest option initially, conventional fuels come at a considerable cost to our environment and can cause significant damage to ecosystems and human health. For example, fuel emissions from residential sources contribute to roughly 2/3 of the most common air pollutants in the US. The most damaging of these pollutants are fine particles linked to increased asthma symptoms, cancerous tumors, and even premature death.
3. Geothermal Heating And Cooling
Geothermal heating/cooling is an efficient way to circulate heated fluids through your home. These systems use buried pipes that are connected to an energy source. The earth has a relatively constant temperature at about 10 ft below the surface outside, so using this as a heat sink for geothermal systems is gratis. When the system needs to cool the house, cold water or antifreeze fluid is circulated instead of hot water. An air handler unit in each room then transfers this cooled fluid into the room. Geothermal systems are great for lowering your power bills, but the initial installation can be pretty expensive.
4. Heating With Firewood
Wood is one of the most popular methods of heating homes in America, and it’s also very eco-friendly. While it may not heat your home as efficiently as other options, burning wood releases much less harmful pollutants into the atmosphere than conventional fuels. Also, firewood is a renewable resource that requires only patience to grow back. However, firewood harvesting can have significant environmental impacts on ecosystems if not properly managed. For example, invasive insect species have been known to damage local hardwoods when they are harvested indiscriminately for fuel. Before you cut down that tree in the backyard, make sure you are doing so sustainably.
5. Solar Heating
Solar heating is a great way to reduce your dependence on conventional fuels and save money on your energy bills. Solar thermal panels use the sun’s energy to heat water, which can then heat your home. In addition to being cost-effective, solar thermal panels also have the added benefit of reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. However, solar heating is not as efficient in colder climates and may not be practical in heavily shaded homes.
7. Fireplace Inserts
Fireplace inserts are an excellent option for anyone who enjoys the warmth and ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace but doesn’t want to deal with the additional baggage that comes along with it. An insert is simply a heater that’s inserted into an existing fireplace. It draws air from outside, burns fuel more efficiently than almost any other heating method, and provides supplemental heat for your home. However, fireplaces are also the least efficient way to heat a home. They can even add significant amounts of carbon dioxide to your home’s atmosphere.
There are several different ways to heat your home, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the proper heating method for your home can be a daunting task, but it’s essential to consider all of your options before deciding. No matter what type of heating system you choose, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. Heating your home improperly can be dangerous and costly.