Warm Investments… Home Heating Alternatives

home heatingMaybe you’re looking for ways to simultaneously green up your home while reducing heating monthly heat costs during cold winter months. Especially if you’re building a new home or moving to a new home in a cold city like Vancouver, it could be helpful to plan for the future by investing in a nontraditional heating system. By and large, most American households are heated by consuming natural gas, following close behind is electricity. In fact, over 50% of US homes are heated using some type of gas-powered heating system and the majority of those people use what is known as a central warm air furnace. However, as with any natural resource in high demand, prices will climb as a response to increased scarcity. To combat or prepare for the cost of natural resources, you might wish to consider greener / more sustainable home heating options.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps, conceivably the smartest solution to winter blues problems, will also help cool you down when scorching summer months arrive. This is one of the best solutions to combating year-round temperature fluctuations. The fundamentals behind these systems are incredibly simple as they take advantage of nature’s 100% renewable energy (stable ground temperature). It turns out that the earth’s temperature about 10 feet down remains at a consistent 54 degrees fahrenheit. We can tap into that heat and export it to desired locations – like our homes! These systems attach to your home’s HVAC unit, so you’ll still need to schedule regular HVAC tuneups.

Although upfront costs are higher than other, more traditional choices, geothermal heating and cooling systems can substantially lower energy & utility bills, eventually covering their original cost. Furthermore, individuals who invest in geothermal heating and cooling qualify for energy tax credits.

Overall, geothermal heating and cooling is great for people building a new home or who plan to live in their current home for a number of years. If you’re selling a home with a system already installed, the selling value will be significantly higher.

Furthermore, these systems can work in conjunction with tankless water heaters, solar water heaters and hybrid water heaters. They can also be hooked up to infloor radiant heating systems.

Pellet Stoves

This may sound like an old fashioned alternative and yes pellet stoves have been around for awhile but, like one might expect, technological advancements have made these stoves much more convenient. How advanced are we talking? Well, as it may be, most newer models automatically ignite and cycle themselves and can be controlled by a thermostat. The really fancy ones can even be controlled remotely.

Although pellets burn cleanly, they do produce a small amount of byproduct. When purchasing pellets, it’s important to note their efficiency grade. Premium grade pellets will burn at hotter temperatures and produce only 1% of their weight in waste. 100 pounds of pellets leaves you cleaning 1 pound of ash. That beats paying for and cleaning out your home’s air filter regularly. Furthermore, these pellets stoves can burn materials such as grain, corn and woodchips.

How much do these pellets cost? You might be wondering. Well, according to the United States Department of Energy, the average cost of a ton of pellets is $190. Plus, $15.15 creates around 1 million British Thermal Units (BTU). To put this into perspective, 60,000 BTU’s can heat a 2,000-square-foot home. That’s a whole lot a heat for hardly any dime. Also, investors of pellet stoves are eligible for energy tax credits.

Masonry Heaters

Masonry heaters, though fairly uncommon, are both fascinating and practical in their own right. Unlike other heating options, masonry heaters deliver primarily radiant heat. Technically speaking, radiant heat refers to energy emitted in the form of electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles. As suggested in the name, masonry heaters are built with stone. Units usually contain a firebox, heat-exchange channels and a chimney. Surrounding stones allow the fire to burn at an incredibly high temperature. These high temperatures heat the stones, which retain and radiate heat for long periods of time. Wood is the recommended fuel source.