Heating your home during the long, cold months of winter can be a pricy proposition. Of course, most homeowners will pay to ensure a comfortable or at least livable home interior. But most would also jump at the chance to experience more efficient heating at a lower price. Unfortunately, this is one situation where you may have to spend some money to make money. Many options for alternative heating require some up-front expense. But homeowners who implement such measures stand to save a lot over time, significantly reducing their heating bills, offsetting their initial costs in short order, and eventually making their money back and then some. And saving energy is good for the environment, to boot. Here are just a few effective options that are sure to save you money in the long run.
Geothermal or geo-exchange
Geothermal heating uses the temperature of the ground water to bring the air in your home to a base temperature while a geo-exchange uses the temperature of the air several feet underground. The decision to use one over the other is largely based on your region and how deep the ground water supply is (i.e. how expensive it would be to reach it). In both cases, piping is placed underground to bring air or water into your home, after which is used to set a base temperature (anywhere from 45-75?F, depending on your region). It takes a lot less energy to heat a home from this ground temperature than it does to start with the temperature of the air outside when it’s below freezing, just for example, so this system could save you a ton.
Increased airtightness and insulation
If you’d like your home to be more comfortable and energy efficient without having to shell out thousands of dollars up front to implement an alternative energy solution, you might want to start with a home energy audit designed to pinpoint areas of energy waste. Once you have a report you can add weather stripping, seal leaks, and increase or upgrade insulation throughout your home in order to create a comfortable and energy-efficient interior that requires far less power to heat. Just don’t forget about proper ventilation to ensure optimum interior air quality.
There are a couple of ways to use the sun when it comes to heating your home. Most people don’t have the opportunity to select the precise positioning of their home, but if you’re lucky you get a lot of natural light in your main living spaces. And if you also get a fair amount of sun during the winter months, all you have to do is let it in to help heat your home. Okay, that’s not quite all; you also need to finish sunny rooms with materials that will soak up and release the heat back into your home. But passive solar heating doesn’t have to be pricy. You can, of course, set up solar power for your home, as well, to further cut your heating costs. You just need to determine whether you get enough sunlight throughout the year to make the initial costs worthwhile.
Radiant floor heating
If you have an existing system of pipes running from your boiler to radiators in your home, you can add piping under the floorboards to route the same water and let its heat radiate through every room in your home. Or you could install electric wiring that will do the same job. The benefit is that heat rises, so you won’t need nearly as much energy as, say, forced air heating to keep your interior toasty.
Wood or pellet stove
It’s not a bad idea to comparison shop for energy-efficient HVAC equipment, learning about 2-stage and variable options, as well as how MERV can help you save money. But if you’re also seeking alternatives to heat your home, you should definitely consider modern wood or pellet stoves. Once set on an appropriate platform in your home, these products can pump out a lot of heat without using any energy at all.
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