Winter is almost here, and for those around Southern Maryland that means it’s time to start getting ready for heating season. Do you have a dependable heating solution that can serve you all winter long? With temperatures already dipping into extremely cold levels, you’re probably already scrambling to fire up your system and get the heat you need. However, doing so can cause many homeowners to wince in pain—heat can be expensive, and nobody likes the dread that comes with opening an energy bill when you’ve needed your heater quite a bit.
This brings up a question: if your heater is due to be replaced sometime soon, should you consider replacing it with a different type of heater that’s more energy-efficient? The overwhelming majority of the time, if the cost is minimal and the savings are substantial, the answer is a resounding yes! However, what type of heating is the most efficient? That answer isn’t quite so straightforward. On this blog, we’ll take a look at what types are most efficient and whether you should consider installing this type of system in your home.
A Note About Heating Efficiency
Before we begin we need to let you in on a dirty little secret: there is no bona-fide correct answer for what system is the most efficient. Your home is not the same as your neighbor next door, much less someone in Florida, California, Washington, Minnesota or Maine. What may be the right choice for you may not necessarily be the right choice for someone else. This is why we strongly advise scheduling a consultation with a heating and cooling expert from Boothe’s Heating, Air & Plumbing and having a professional give you their opinion on what type of system will best benefit your home.
Water Source Heat Pumps
Water source heat pumps are a fairly new technology, but they’re growing in popularity because of their incredible flexibility and longevity. Not only do these systems tend to last the longest of any type of heating and cooling equipment, but they’re also by far one of the most energy-efficient. As their name implies, these types of systems pump heat from one area where it isn’t needed to another area where it is, and it does so using the power of water, much like a boiler does.
However, there is a downside to these systems: they tend to work best in large buildings, or in areas where there are quite a few different units that heat can be radiated from or extracted from. This is why you almost never see them outside of apartment complexes, office buildings, school buildings, and more. Odds are, this is not going to be the right type of heating for your home, despite its status as more or less the unrivaled energy efficiency leader.
Heat pumps are an incredibly efficient heat source that is commonly found in residential applications. When it comes to energy efficiency, these are pretty much unequivocally the leader of the pack in single-family homes. With most heat pumps, you can actually use the system for both heating and cooling, and when properly maintained these systems provide you with far more heat than just about any other type for the amount of energy consumed. They’re also great for the environment because they don’t produce any exhaust.
However, they have a downside: when the weather gets too cold, they stop working. Plain and simple. There has to be enough heat in the air around your outdoor unit in order for your heat pump to extract it. While most heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as the low-20s to 10s in Fahrenheit, below that level they risk reduced efficiency and may not be able to work at all.
Furnaces are not as efficient as heat pumps in terms of heat produced per amount of energy consumed, but they are far more reliable in the coldest weather. Furnaces use a fuel source, either natural gas, oil, or electricity, to create heat that is then radiated into air that’s forced around your home with your blower fan. Electric furnaces don’t produce any exhaust, but because oil and natural gas both involve burning their fuel source, they both do. That means there’s a risk of carbon monoxide, so they are inherently not quite as safe as heat pumps.
However, furnaces are also the most common type of heating equipment you’ll find, and as far as costs go, they’re also usually one of the cheapest. They also require very little maintenance, and their considerable technological advancement over the years has also made them safer and more energy-efficient than ever before. When used properly, these systems can actually outperform heat pumps in particularly cold climates.
Boilers are popular heating solutions in older homes, particularly ones built before central heating and cooling really became popular. Boilers use the power of water to carry heat around your home, keeping you warm and comfortable. Water is heated at your boiler system then pumped through water lines to different heating elements, including radiators or hydronic floor heaters. The heat from that water is then radiated into the room, and the cooled water then returns to the boiler and the cycle starts over.
These systems are tremendously efficient in that they can heat a room quickly. They have also become far more energy-conscious over the years as water heating technology has advanced. However, heating water takes a lot of energy, and thus these systems tend to be one of the least efficient. However, they do tend to have shorter cycle times, and they tend to heat evenly, meaning fewer inconsistencies or cold spots in your home.
To learn more about what type of heating may be right for you, call Boothe’s Heating, Air & Plumbing at (301) 200-5248 today.