For those of us that live in a northern climate, the topic of home heating efficiency is a hot one. It is valuable to take some time to think about ways to improve home heating efficiency, consider the efficiency of your boiler and learn about home heating energy audits. On the flip side, homeowners may also want to consider the efficiency of their air conditioners during summer use. Learning about home furnace, boiler, heat pump and pellet stove efficiencies is an important part of becoming more energy wise. Developing a home heating efficiency comparison system is valuable. It is smart to conserve energy no matter what economic bracket you find yourself in, and the following information is valuable to all. There are a few simple steps to take in order to improve home heating efficiency.
Stop Heat Loss
Perhaps the first and most important step in increasing home heating efficiency is to replace worn weather stripping around windows and doorways. Cold air comes into the home through small gaps in these areas, and draftiness forces you to use more fuel and feel cold. Caulking doesn’t last forever, and becomes cracked over time. Simply pull out your old caulking and replace it with some new caulking to deal with this issue.
Also, if you can see light coming through the bottom of your doorway, it may be important to either adjust your threshold or add a strip of rubber to add on to the bottom of the door. This is one of the most common household places where heat is lost and cold air comes in. The areas around electrical boxes can also be drafty. It can be smart to take off the cover, fill the gaps around the outlets with acrylic latex caulk, place a foam gasket over the outlet and then replace the cover. This can help to eliminate the drafts coming through this area of the home. Most homes have holes in the exterior where pipes lead in to the home, like electrical cables and gas lines. This is also a good place to fill in any gaps with expanding foam.
For people who are blessed with a wood stove in the home, it makes sense to use the stove as much as possible in order to cut down on fuel costs. It you are not one of the lucky ones with a wood stove, it may be worthwhile to purchase a portable heater. Place it in the room where your family spends the most time, and turn down the furnace.
Although it is not the most aesthetic option, some people decide to cover their windows and glass sliding doors with plastic film. It is not an expensive purchase and can be found at most hardware stores.
Here is a video that discusses heat loss. While the video is produced in New Zealand, the principles are applicable anywhere in the world, including the Lehigh Valley.
Heating System Efficiencies: Boiler or Furnace
One of the main things that affects your heating bill is the efficiency of your home heating boiler or furnace. It is worthwhile to take a look at how home heating boiler efficiency affects your budget. Most homes are heated by boilers or furnaces that heat up air and distribute it throughout the house through a system of ducts. However some systems are more efficient than others. Even if you have taken steps to weatherize your home, if your boiler is not efficient these steps can only help you so much. Systems that have a natural draft that creates a flow of combustion gases, a continuous pilot light, a heavy heat exchanger or a 56% to 70% AFUE rating are considered to be low efficiency heating systems. Your system can be retrofitted or replaced to improve efficiency, and the cost of such a procedure can eventually be paid for in the amount of energy you will save over time.
And don’t forget the summer: home air conditioning efficiency is important to consider, as well. The same steps should be taken to insulate the home in the summer months in order to increase efficiency. And whatever cooling system you have in place should be evaluated for efficiency, and most systems over ten years old will need to be replaced.
There are different types of heating system efficiencies: The home furnace efficiency, the home boiler efficiency, heat pumps efficiency and pellet stoves efficiency. The cost of heating a home in Pennsylvania will vary based on many factors. However, as a general guide, a home furnace that is energy star rated will cost most people slightly less to run during the wintertime than a home boiler. Similarly, an energy star ductless heat pump will usually cost a family less but that depends on the outside temperatures. A pellet stove will usually run a little more than than a heat pump for the purposes of a comparison. However, please note that there is a great variance of efficiency depending on the type of system your household has in place.
Home Heating Efficiency Comparison
Finally a home heating efficiency comparison may be a very important step to take in order to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Look at all the options available, consider the cost of the system and the amount of money it will cost to operate that system annually. Refer to a guide that is fitted to your exact location, and take a look at how much it costs to operate different systems in your area. Although a system like an energy star geothermal heat pump may require a large investment initially, over time the efficiency of such a system will allow it to pay for itself many times over in the money you will be saving during operation. If initial cost is an issue, remember that the old fashioned system of heating with wood in a wood stove actually usually rates as one of the three most efficient systems to use when heating the home. If there is an existing wood stove in your home this is likely one of the smartest ways to heat your house. And if there isn’t, purchasing an EPA certified wood stove may prove to be a more cost effective investment than the purchasing of a geothermal heat pump or a ductless heat pump. Also, your wood stove will keep you toasty through winter storms when the power goes out, and provide cheeriness and a surface to cook on through the roughest of times.
Take the time to consider the energy efficiency of your home before the winter months roll around, it will prove to be time well spent.