According to the EPA, nearly half of all annual energy consumption goes to heating our homes and businesses. That’s a lot of power flowing to one purpose. With increasing concern for the environment and, in some places, rising energy costs, the need and the desire to employ more efficient systems has only grown. That leads many to ask the same question: what is the most efficient heating system on the market today? How can you continue to enjoy a comfortable, warm home or office without sacrificing an increasingly large portion of your budget towards energy fees? Let’s dive into the different options out there and try to find the answers to these questions.
The Answer Isn’t the Same for Everyone
Will the same type of heater yield the same reliable efficiency for a single-family as it would for a large office? Chances are the answer to that query is a flat “no.” Immediately we see one of the challenges inherent in addressing efficiency: units themselves may exhibit excellent performance and efficiency under test conditions, but the type of building you have influences efficiency, too. HVAC system size plays a role, as does the quality of the building’s thermal envelope. While a small apartment might only need to use an electric resistance heater, the same solution would yield a costly result for a big business — especially considering that electric heaters rely on power generated from coal and gas plants.
Although there’s some variance in what the most efficient heating system for a property may be, an in-depth discussion with an HVAC contractor can help to remedy confusion and clear the path towards the installation of the ideal system for any given property. While pinning down an answer for a specific structure can be tough, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some options which yield objectively better performance than others.
Geothermal Heat is a Superior Option (with Some Shortcomings)
Using a geothermal heat pump is an increasingly popular option owing to the substantial energy savings they offer over other systems. They operate based on a simple principle: at a certain point below the surface of the ground, the temperature of the earth rarely fluctuates. No matter what happens weather-wise on the surface, the ground at that level remains a constant temperature. This makes it ideal for extracting and dumping heat and pulling heat energy from the ground is the primary mode of operation for geothermal heating. The typical features of such a system include:
- Heat exchangers buried at the correct depth; these often take the form of special tubing intended for the circulation of the heat exchange medium, a type of refrigerant in a closed-loop system.
- A central heat pump that forces refrigerant through the tubing and brings it back up from underground.
- A blower fan that passes air over the heat pump’s exchanger, sending the warmth extracted from the ground blowing throughout the ducts of your home’s HVAC system.
However, while using geothermal systems can yield highly cost- and energy-efficient heating, they do have some drawbacks. Concerns to consider include:
- The cost and hassle of excavating a property to the correct depth to deploy the heat exchanger tubes.
- A higher up-front installation cost. Geothermal heat pumps cost more per ton of heating and cooling than other systems but yield better savings long-term.
However, in terms of raw performance, geothermal systems can move far more heat into a home than the energy put into their operation. That makes them the king of heating efficiency when it comes to energy usage.
Solar? Gas? Oil? Electric? Evaluating More Accessible Options
Not everyone can dig up their yard and start installing geothermal technology, though. There are other options out there that may prove an efficient and effective heating solution for your property. Active solar heating is one such promising new technology, while high-efficiency natural gas furnaces continue to reach new thresholds of reliability. Ultimately, since the answer can vary so much, the best choice one can make is to reach out to an experienced professional for an in-depth question and answer session.
Finding the Most Efficient Heating System for the Long-Term
If you choose to explore the benefits of a geothermal heat pump, enjoy your ability to tap into one of the most efficient systems available today. For everyone else, the challenge remains — but it’s not insurmountable. Ultimately, though the most suitable system for your building may not be a “one size fits all” solution, making the right choice will ensure lower energy bills, less wear and tear, and a better return on your investment. Speaking to local, qualified, and reputable heating and cooling technicians will help to illuminate the best path forward. Get in touch with your preferred contractors today to explore how to address efficiency effectively.