Gas furnaces are the traditional option that’s been used for decades to heat homes in cold climates. However, the advancements in HVAC technology raise the question of whether this is the most efficient method for heating your home. Discover what heating efficiency means, if it’s the best consideration as you explore your options, what options you have, and the best choices for saving money for heating your home.
The Skinny On Heating Efficiency
Most people outside the industry look at how much money they’ll spend for heating their home as the measure of heating efficiency. After all, the more efficient it is, the less it will cost, right?
The story of efficiency and cost isn’t quite that simple, in part due to the cost difference between energy sources. Historically, natural gas has cost less than electricity. This is part of why gas furnaces are so popular, even though they are technically less efficient than electric furnaces.
Efficiency actually looks at the amount of energy produced in heat compared to the heat released in your home. For every fuel-burning furnace, there is some amount of heat energy lost in the exhaust, even in high-efficiency systems.
Electric systems are considered 100% efficient because all of the energy they consume is turned into heat for your home. However, you have to consider the amount of electricity it consumes to produce that heat to evaluate what’s cost-effective.
Heat pumps don’t actually create heat but, instead, absorb and transfer it. In this case, the peak efficiency may reach well over 100% during mild temperatures. Conversely, they may become less efficient than standard electric heaters during extremely cold periods.
While exploring your heating options, there are so many to explore that it can be difficult to identify which are good. The climate is only one factor in choosing the right system for your home. Efficiency is another key component, as is the cost of fuel and personal preferences.
The three most common options are heat pumps, electric resistance furnaces, and fuel-burning furnaces, which are usually either natural gas or propane. However, these are far from the only options available.
Some people appreciate radiant floor heating, which uses either a liquid or electric coil system to warm the floor. Boilers, which use steam and radiators to heat your home, are still called for in some applications. Most people shy away from boilers simply because they take a lot more space, work differently than what most people are used to, are far more expensive, and bring with them the risk of dangerous leaks.
Finally, some people choose wood-burning systems. Some homes rely on one or more fireplaces throughout the space. Other systems use outdoor burners and transfer the heat inside. These are popular because of the ready availability of wood and lower costs if you’re willing to harvest it yourself.
First Choice: Dual-Fuel Heat Pumps
Combining the best of both heat pumps and gas furnaces, dual-fuel systems are one of the best options for cold climates. These systems run primarily on the heat pump while the temperatures are mild. However, once the temperature outside drops far enough, a gas furnace takes over while the heat pump turns off.
These systems make the change automatically, so you don’t have to guess when to make the switch. This system is more expensive than installing a standard heat pump or a standalone gas furnace. The tradeoff is that you’re getting the efficiency of the heat pump when it makes sense while reducing the cost of running the emergency heating system.
Backup Choice: Gas Furnaces
If you aren’t ready to take the plunge into installing a dual-fuel heat pump system, a gas furnace continues to be the next best option. High-efficiency models reduce the wasted energy to under 2% so that it’s utilizing most of the heat that it generates. The fuel for furnaces is less expensive than using electricity for radiant floor or electric resistance heating. It’s also far less expensive to install than a boiler, while both offer about the same efficiency rating.
When people around Commerce City want trusted heating and air conditioning solutions they call Smith & Willis Heating & Air Conditioning. Our NATE-certified technicians have provided dependable air conditioning and heating installation, maintenance, and repair along with indoor air quality solutions to area residents for more than 20 years. Call to schedule your heating system consultation and explore the best options for heating your home.