As the weather cools, our minds turn to warmer thoughts—cozy fires, favourite sweaters and soft blankets. If your home is properly heated, you can turn to these comfort items as a preference, not a necessity. Thankfully, over recent years, there has been a steady growth in energy efficient home heating options. New technology allows you to have even, consistent heat with lower heating costs.
So, what can you do to help make sure your home is working at its peak? We’ve put together a list of energy efficient home heating options to get you started:
Option #1: Assess Your Home Heating
First of all, you can make your house more energy efficient with an assessment of your home’s heating options. Think about having an energy audit done by a professional, in order to determine where your home is leaking valuable heat.
If an audit is out of the question, simply wait for the first cold day and feel for cold air coming in around your windows and doors. Once you’ve decided to make efficiency gains, be sure to dig up your heating bills over the last two years so you can see if your work comes with a pay-off.
Option #2: Check Your Windows
If you have determined you are losing heat through one or more of your windows, you can take some basic steps to make them less leaky. Using weatherstripping, caulk, or liquid spray foam—depending on their size and location—you can create a seal that can get you through a winter, or perhaps until you have the windows replaced.
Option #3: Examine Your Home
As you make an efficiency plan, be honest about your heating needs. Do you have to heat every room in your home? Are there some—perhaps a storage room or a seldom-used family-room—you could do without over the winter? For any space you decide you don’t need, properly close heating vents to the room and seal it off. This is an important step, as it will otherwise cause your furnace to work overtime as it tries to even out air temperatures.
Option #4: Make the Most of Forced Air
Approximately two thirds of Canadian homes are heated by forced air systems. Two thirds of those are fueled by natural gas, while the rest are powered by propane. If you have a forced air heating system, help it to operate at peak efficiency by changing your filters regularly, upgrading your thermostat to a smarter, more efficient model and ensuring your registers are open and clear of pet hair or other debris. If possible, install a ceiling fan to further distribute air throughout your home.
Option #5: Schedule Regular HVAC Service
Another important way to help your forced air heating system run efficiently is to schedule regular maintenance and furnace repair. A home furnace should be inspected by a professional at least once every year. A well-tuned furnace will use less energy and will run more efficiently. A regular service call will check for risks such as gas or carbon monoxide leaks and—an added bonus—it will help your furnace to last longer.
Option #6: Consider Radiant Heat
Radiant heat systems are generally energy efficient and easy to install in a new build. Using infrared radiation, a heat source is applied directly to the floor, wall panels and / or ceiling of a home. Radiant heat is noise-free, requires little to no maintenance and delivers uniform, even heat.
Some of the barriers include the up-front cost and the effort of installation in an existing home. Unless you are willing to dig up your existing flooring, radiant heat is best considered if you are planning construction or a renovation project.
Option #7: Think Solar
If you have a budget that allows for the installation of solar panels, you may want to consider benefits of solar energy. Modern solar panels provide an energy efficiency rating of 11 to 22 percent. The downsides to solar energy include steep upfront costs, the cost of energy storage and the dependency upon access to sunlight. Finally, even if you have a roof space with sun exposure, solar panels are generally dependent upon the cooperation of the weather.
Option #8: Go Geothermal
Geothermal heating is a modern, efficient method of home heating. Also known as a ground source heat pump, a geothermal system collects heat from the sun that is stored in the ground. This ground-source heat is then pumped throughout your house. Geothermal systems provide even, consistent heat and avoid the use of fossil-burned fuels or electric heat but they also come with a significant upfront investment.
As Canadians prepare for winter, efficient heating is a must. There are several basic steps you can take to help improve the efficiency of your home, including reducing leaks and having your current system serviced.
While alternatives to gas heating are making leaps in technology and acceptance, most still require significant upfront investment. As you consider the most energy efficient home heating options, it is worth thinking about how to improve your current system while staying open-minded to future options.