Most North American homes and buildings derive their heat from natural gas furnaces or steam boilers. Gas furnaces heat air and distribute this warm air through a system of metal ducts. Steam boilers heat up water and push steam through pipes to baseboard radiators, radiant floor systems or classic radiators. Furnaces and boilers are not the only way homeowners can generate comfort and warmth. What follows is an examination of some of the other options people can use to efficiently heat their dwellings.
A good way of boosting the efficiency of your climate control system is to have it perform more than one task. According to Air Control Heating and Electric, Inc., which performs boiler work in Spokane, some residential steam boilers have efficiency ratings up to 96 percent. Although they may cost more up front, they save you money because they can also provide your domestic hot water.
New Technologies for Comfort and Efficiency
A variety of emerging technologies has found its way into new home heating methods. In this regard, the United States Department of Energy discloses that today’s consumer has more choices than ever before. In addition to furnaces and boilers, Americans can also try geothermal heat pumps, active solar heating systems, electric resistance heating units, wood pellet burning stoves and radiant heating systems to generate heat. Some Americans, those lucky enough to live in more temperate regions, can even use portable ceramic heaters for full-time heating.
The Cold Reality of Heat Loss
Home heating systems that rely upon the burning of fuel (oil or gas) must have a flue system to allow dangerous, combustible gasses to safely exit the house. When this happens, some of the heat energy you paid for escapes also. An all-electric furnace or boiler does not require a flue system. This means that there will be no loss of heat energy through the flue or chimney. All-electric furnaces and boilers are considered more efficient than heating systems that burn fossil fuels. In parts of the nation where electricity is very expensive, all-electric furnaces or boilers are not an economically feasible option. Homeowners faced with this predicament are encouraged to learn more about geothermal heat pumps.
Maintenance Costs as a Factor
To make an informed choice, it is important for you to understand the differences between furnaces and boilers in terms of maintenance costs. Because air is constantly flowing through the ducts of homes heated by gas furnaces, furnace air filters need to be changed regularly. For some homes, this means once per month. The decision to install a gas furnace needs to include the cost of a maintenance contract. Maintenance for steam boilers is quite different. Modern high-efficiency boilers only require annual service, and cast iron boilers can operate for years at a time with only minimal maintenance.
Although many high-efficiency versions of home heating technologies are available on the market, few people take the time to familiarize themselves with them. Of course, the best and most efficient heating system for you will depend upon many factors. These factors include your geographic region, the cost differentials between fuels, the size of your home and your personal preferences. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of heating system is the best way of making an informed decision.
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