Energy-Efficient Home Heating Systems
The two most common types of heating systems are forced air furnaces and hydronic systems, which can include radiators and radiant floor heating. These systems typically use natural gas or propane, oil, or electricity as their fuel source. Newer, more efficient, and — dare we say — exciting home heating systems are becoming more widely available for people replacing their heating system or building a new home.
Geothermal heat pumps
While geothermal technology has been around for centuries, it is only recently that it has started to gain ground as a viable solution for home heating. Geothermal heating consists of running a water/antifreeze mix through a series of looped pipes buried in the ground. The liquid is heated to around 55 degrees, the average ground temperature in many parts of the country. The liquid passes through a heat pump, located in the home, which extracts the heat from the liquid. The extracted heat is used to heat the home while the cooled liquid is sent back through the ground pipes to continue the cycle. Geothermal heat pumps can be extremely efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly.
CarbonicHeat is a new technology that uses a thin, electrified film 1/60-inch thick, placed under tile, stone or most wood flooring products. The black carbon film panels generate a uniform heat source that radiates into the flooring material and beyond, into the room. This radiated, infrared heat warms your entire body, inside and out. Through the action of warming the floor and your body, thermostats can often be reduced from 15-20 degrees.
Solar heating systems of one kind or another have been around forever since they are literally as old as the sun. Their widespread use is becoming more prevalent as technology, cost, and efficiency of modern solar systems have all improved. There are two types of solar heating:
Passive solar heating refers to using the suns direct rays to heat a thermal mass in your home. Say concrete or stone floors, for example. This heat is stored during the day and released at night to help warm your home.
Active solar heating uses cells to collect and absorb solar radiation. The heat is then distributed through a series of fans or pumps. Liquid and air are the two mediums used to transport the heat to the desired location in your home. Storage capacity for the captured heat is another component often added to this type of heating system. A water tank or even a domestic water heater can be used.
Net Zero energy
“Net zero energy” is the new horizon in home and building design. This exciting new concept means that a home or building produces as much energy from renewable resources as is needed to supply its power. This can be accomplished with building practices and technologies that are readily available today. Many government agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) are looking to net zero building as a way to drastically reduce the power consumption of our homes and buildings.
Location and orientation of a house on the site is the first order of business. If possible, the house is placed where it can take advantage of passive solar heating, with most windows facing southwest. Properly designed and sized eaves to cut off direct, overhead, summer sun while allowing the lower winter sun’s rays to enter the house. Southwest facing roof areas have photovoltaic panels to generate energy to power your home. The most efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems are installed, including tankless water heaters, which only heat water when it is needed. Wind turbines can even be incorporated to offset power use.
Useful References for More Information:
- Energy Savers Designing and Remodeling
- Energy Savers Heating and Cooling
- Popular Mechanics How to Heat Your House
- Do It Yourself Heating