Say goodbye to summer, the cold temperatures of winter are nearly upon us! It’s time to switch our focus from cooling our living space during the dog days of summer, to heating our personal space and staying cozy as the temperature continues to drop.
Unlike with A/C, there are literally dozens of options when it comes to heating your home. Luckily, The Plumbing Works is here to walk you through the pros and cons of five of the most popular methods of staying warm in the wintertime.
Central Heat Via Electric, Oil, or Gas Furnaces
Far and away, the most common method of heating the home comes from a standard central furnace and forced-air system. Over 50% of American homes are heated by a gas-powered furnace, but many also rely on oil and even electricity.
Inside a gas or oil furnace, fuel is mixed with air and then burned. This then heats a metal exchanger, which heats air and “forces” through a duct system to all areas of your home. Combustion byproducts are then vented out of your home via a flue pipe.
Many modern gas or oil powered furnaces can be extremely efficient, especially in sub-zero temperatures. Forced-air or duct systems tend to keep the interior of your home at a consistent, comfortable temperature, meaning you won’t have to fiddle with your thermostat setting several times a day. Central furnaces can also be a bit cheaper to install than other heating options.
On the downside however, operating costs can be more expensive than the system itself over the course of the winter, and electric-powered furnaces can cost hundreds-to thousands of dollars a month depending on the size of your home and your exact temperature preferences.
Heat Via Water Boiler Systems
Boilers are a bit outdated in today’s U.S. A., but at one point, they were an extremely popular way to keep a home warm throughout the winter. If you have an older home, you may have a similar type of heating system.
In a boiler system, natural gas or oil is burned in order to heat water, which is then distributed to various radiators in your home which then steadily increase in temperature and heat the air around them. There is also a version of a water boiler which uses steam to warm radiators in a similar manner, although this type of system is even more rare these days.
Boilers can be an extremely good way to localize the heat in your home, confining the warm air to areas of your house that are more commonly used. Additionally, boiler systems normally last a long-time without needing much attention.
In the event that a boiler system does need repair however, it can be a costly job. This is especially true given the increased risk of frozen pipes, which can sideline your heating system for some time and be wildly expensive.
Geothermal and Mini Split Heat Pumps
One of the more modern ways to heat your living area is with a geothermal or mini split heat pump. Heat pumps double as an air conditioning system in the summertime as well, making them extremely popular options these days.
In a geothermal heat pump system, solar heat stored in the ground is collected, condensed, and injected into your home, providing enough warmth to make even frigid homes tolerable again. In the summertime, this trick is reversed, pumping heat form inside your home back into the ground and cooling your environment. With a mini split heat pump system, the process is similar, except a large outdoor unit is used instead of relying on thermal energy.
The main benefit of a heat pump system is tremendous efficiency. Because electricity is used only for the transportation of heat rather than the generation of it, operating costs are extremely low.
Purchasing a heat pump system and then paying to have it installed is the truly expensive part of a heat pump system, but if you use it for long enough, you’ll eventually make out financially in the long-run.
Electric Space Heating
A quick and easy way to heat your home is through the purchase and use of electric space heaters. This type of warmth can be especially effective in condensed living environments. YOu can pick up a quality space heater at practically any store for not much money.
A space heater works by converting the electric current from your wall into heat via a series of intricate coils. That heat is then blown with a fan or otherwise distributed into the space surrounding the machine, warming small spaces rapidly at a very high temperature.
As stated, space heaters are extremely easy to find and comparatively inexpensive to purchase. On the downside however, they tend to use a ton of electricity, costing you astronomically on your electric bill. Space heaters can also be a fire hazard if knocked over or forgotten about.
Wood or Coal Stoves and Fireplaces
The final method on our list comes in the form of one of the most romanticized ways to heat your living space. At one point, wood or coal stoves and fireplaces were the ONLY way to keep from freezing to death in the winter time. All these years later, they continue to be popular, especially in rural areas.
The science behind this heating method is simple. Physical, naturally occurring elements like wood or coal are burned in a stove, generating intense heat from an open flame. In some higher-end models, this air is distributed throughout the home via a relatively simple duct-like system.
One benefit of a fireplace or stove include a high-class atmosphere (as it is usually incorporated as part of a room’s overall décor). There’s nothing quite like a warm glow to accentuate a family gathering or romantic evening. These types of heating systems can also cost next-to-nothing, as the materials they burn are naturally occurring for the most part.
However, there’s a reason these types of heating systems fell out of popular use. For one, they aren’t particularly efficient. Although they can be cheap to use, the heat they provide is uneven and tough to maintain. Furthermore, these systems require regular heavy-duty cleanings, as they produce a ton of soot, ash, and other debris. Neglecting to properly clean your wood or coal stove or fireplace can be extremely dangerous, with carbon monoxide poisoning and risk of fire not being particularly uncommon.
For more information on the best way to heat your home, or to discuss installation or equipment purchase, don’t hesitate to contact The Plumbing Works as soon as possible!