How many ways are there to heat your home? Many people only have experience with the most common options, such as electric heaters and natural gas furnaces. However, there are many alternative ways of heating your house. While they aren’t all perfect options for a retrofit, and some new installations can be tricky, it can be interesting to consider the other options out there. Let’s look at six of the biggest alternatives to using traditional electric or natural gas furnaces in your home.
1. Passive or Active Solar Heating
The sun is a powerful tool, and there are several ways to use it for home heating. One of the most popular alternative ways of heating your house today is passive solar heating. In this setup, homes are designed to let in as much natural light as possible. The sun warms interior surfaces, such as concrete floors, which then releases the heat back into the home naturally during the day. Active solar systems use solar power itself to run heating equipment; these systems are less common than design-based efforts. However, as alternative energy options grow, active systems seem primed for growth.
2. Pellet Stoves
The wooden stove is a classic heating implement and never truly went away. In rural homes especially, wood stoves have provided roaring heat to individual rooms for centuries. Some special stoves even allow for the heating of multiple nearby rooms at once. Today, the modern evolution of the wood-burning stove is something called a “pellet stove.” Instead of burning hunks of wood, special fuel pellets take their place inside the combustion chamber. Clean-burning and energy efficiency, pellet stoves can make the most efficient space heaters you’ll ever encounter. They can also add a charming aesthetic touch of rustic authenticity to a property.
3. Geothermally-powered Heat Pumps
Geothermal heating is a particularly niche type of home heating, as not every property sits on a location ideal for geothermal heat pumps. However, there are two types to consider. The first is like a regular heat pump that exchanges heat with the exterior air; instead, it uses the temperature of the ground below your home as an exchange medium. In other setups, an actual source of geothermal heat can be tapped to warm water or another liquid, which is then circulated through the home to aid in heating. These unique options may not be common but are still worth considering.
4. Radiant Floor Heating
This option is often thought of as more of a supplement than a replacement, as it would be challenging to place radiant heating in every single room of a home. This system requires the placement of liquid-filled tubes or electric heating pads beneath the actual surface of the floor. When a user activates the thermostat, these implements begin to warm up, allowing their heat to radiate up through the floor surface. Though slow, this method provides even heating and can be particularly nice for your feet on those cold winter mornings.
5. Oil-Fired Furnaces
Natural gas may be the most common type of fuel for furnaces, but it wasn’t always that way. For decades, heavy fuel oil was the preferred choice. Today, it is not the most practical choice in urban settings. For individuals living out in the country, though, oil is often still a necessity due to the lack of a reliable transportation infrastructure for natural gas. Although older oil furnaces are not usually very efficient, newer high-efficiency models ensure that each drop of fuel goes farther to keep your home warm. For some, this can be a good option.
6. Hydronic-Style Baseboard Heaters
Baseboard heaters are nothing new, but most people think of them in terms of electric heat. Not only are pure electric baseboard heaters typically very wasteful in their energy consumption, but they don’t provide very reliable heat, either. Hydronic baseboard heaters are an attempt to solve that issue. Similar to radiant underfloor heating, hydronic heaters use a special heat-absorbing gel or oil inside of them which is them warmed. As it cools, it releases its heat into the room. Hydronic heaters are well known for their ability to hold heat longer, aiding in more efficient heating in individual spaces. However, they are not very common, and installation can be pricey.
Exploring Alternative Ways of Heating Your House
Is one of these options the right choice for your home? Sometimes, augmenting or replacing an outdated system can yield better results than staying the course. Other times, a standard replacement unit with modern features is all you’ll need. In either case, connecting with an experienced professional installer can help you to find the right answers to your questions. When considering alternative ways of heating your house, be sure to seek the advice of the experts before making any final decisions.