Madison
33° F
Clear
Clear
Advertisement

Best energy-efficient heating systems

Published On: Feb 05 2013 11:14:56 AM CST   Updated On: Mar 05 2013 09:15:32 AM CST
house

istock

By Steve Graham, Networx

Heating accounts for more than 30 percent of the energy used in the average home. Consider replacing or supplementing your heating system with solar or geothermal heating systems -- two old technologies that are getting modern upgrades. Some up-front costs (and a bit of labor, in some cases) can help you save money on utility bills in the long run. You will also save energy and reduce your ecological footprint.

Solar Hot-Air Collectors

Solar electric panels remain cost-prohibitive for many homeowners, and it may not be feasible to install enough solar electric panels to cover your heating needs. A cheaper and simpler solution is a solar hot-air collector, which can be mounted on a roof, wall or even in the back yard. Solar hot-air collectors are essentially a tempered glass panel, insulation panels and a metal collector plate layered inside an aluminum frame.

An electric fan circulates air from the house through the collector and back into the home. On sunny winter days in cold climates, the metal plate heats up the air and increases the indoor temperature, offsetting some of the furnace's energy use.

A 2007 case study in Home Power magazine estimated that a homeowner can recoup an initial investment of $4,000 within eight years through lower natural gas bills. After eight years, he would be pocketing an estimated $500 in additional savings per year.

A solar hot-air collector also could cost far less than $4,000. Mother Earth News magazine offers detailed plans for a DIY solar hot-air collector that you can build in about an hour for around $40.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal, or geoexchange, heat pumps (GHPs) are a more expensive prospect and are certainly not a DIY project. GHPs, which require professional installation, take advantage of the constant temperature six feet under your home. Because the subsurface temperature is relatively warm in winter and cool in summer, a GHP can replace both your heating and air conditioning systems.

Residential geothermal heat systems have been used since the 1940s, so they are certainly not a new idea. However, the systems are getting less expensive, more reliable and more technologically advanced.

The best GHPs run water, rather than air, through the system, and can even supply hot water for the house. The newest models have two-speed compressors and variable fans for additional comfort and energy savings.

There are new Energy Star ratings for GHPs to help you choose a reliable, energy-efficient system.

The Department of Energy estimates a GHP for the average-size home would cost about $7,500, but suggests that the initial cost can be repaid in under 10 years by reducing or eliminating heating, cooling and hot water bills.

Geothermal and solar heat systems are not new ideas, but they are becoming more advanced. Also, tax incentives and rising utility bills make these efficient options more attractive.

Source: http://www.networx.com/article/best-energy-efficient-heating-systems

hometalklogo_250w

Advertisement
  • PHOTOS: Viewers drop off sensitive documents for Shredfest

    The WISC-TV studio parking lot was busy with hundreds of viewers bringing their sensitive documents to be destroyed as part of Shredfest with the Better Business Bureau Saturday morning.

    A combined 1,295 cars dropped off bags of papers at WISC-TV on Raymond Road and SVA Certified Public Accountants firm on John Q. Hammons Drive.

    News 3 and Better Business Bureau team members unloaded bags of documents from viewers' cars and Pellitteri Waste Systems' Data Destruction team put the papers into the shredding trucks.

  • Earthquake in Nepal 12

    Omar Havana/Getty Images

    Earthquake kills hundreds in Nepal

    A 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu rocked Nepal with devastating force early Saturday, killing at least 1,400 people -- and probably more -- in Nepal's capital city, authorities said. 

  • Bruce Jenner

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational

    Most memorable celebrity interviews

    Bruce Jenner will talk with Diane Sawyer in a highly anticipated interview on Friday night. Look back at some of the other memorable celebrity interviews from over the years.

Advertisement