Gas Furnaces

With winter around the corner, the first thing that comes to your mind is an effective heating solution! A popular choice for North American residents would be gas furnaces that work on forced air heating.

Modern gas furnaces use the latest technology and have a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency or AFUE of 90%, compared to conventional gas furnaces with an AFUE of 56-70%.

The question is, are there any more innovative and more energy-efficient alternatives to gas furnaces?

Yes, there are greener options for you, and the good news is that the local government will help you finance them through the Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE. For those in the Massachusetts area, read up on the Clean Heat Standard and what this means for you as a resident. 

Energy-Efficient Alternatives To Gas Furnaces

Higher efficiency means savings for you with lower electricity bills. Let's find out what these options are: 

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps are more effective than gas furnaces because they use underground temperatures to keep you warm during winter.

Underground temperatures vary according to location and range between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. This temperature is warmer compared to the surface temperatures during winter.

Geothermal heat pumps don't need to spend energy warming the colder surface temperature like gas furnaces, making them the more energy-efficient alternative.

The installation cost of a geothermal pump is higher than a gas furnace because a hole needs to be drilled in the ground. Plus, heat-transferring coils need to be placed in a water body nearby.

However, you will be able to recover the extra expenditure in 5 to 10 years through significant savings in the form of lower electricity consumption. And if you consider the 25-year lifespan of these pumps, the investment is worth it.

If you live in New York, contact the New York Geothermal Energy Organization for more information about geothermal heat pumps. You can check the New York City Electricity Rates for the best energy plans.

Heating Oil

This form of heating is more prevalent in rural areas where natural gas is not readily available. Oil furnaces are cheaper here compared to natural gas-operated ones.

Regarding efficiency, gas furnaces are slightly more efficient than oil furnaces, with an AFUE of 90% and over. An onsite storage tank is also required for oil furnaces.

However, using a biofuel blend in the oil furnaces can ensure greater efficiency in terms of cost and pollution levels.

In terms of BTU, which is a unit to measure the energy required for producing heat, oil furnaces provide more heat compared to other energy sources. Moreover, maintenance of oil furnaces and getting services is more straightforward. 

Pellet Stoves

Wood stoves are a greener form of energy and more efficient than gas furnaces. Some of these stoves can heat your entire home. The heat produced by these stoves varies from 8000 to 90000 BTU per hour.

The Department of Energy has certified this as the cleanest form of energy in the market. Installation of these stoves is easier compared to wood-burning stoves or conventional fireplaces.

The pellets for this stove comprise a wood-based compound that could be either nut shells or corn husks. Before buying a pellet stove, you must find the correct size.

The maintenance requirements of pellet stoves are high. You need to either clean the stoves yourself or hire a professional to clean them annually, but the savings are worth it. 

Solar Heating

Another clean form of energy is solar heating. There are two forms of this heating solution: active and passive.

Passive solar heating uses solar gain for heating your home. It is a natural process of heating where solar heat comes in through the skylight or windows.

A thermal mass and absorber retain this heat. The absorber in your home would be a floor covering like a tile, and the thermal mass would be either the floor below the tile or your walls. 

To access passive solar gain, you could install south-facing windows or skylights. This form of heating should be supplemented by another heating system.

You could also opt for active solar heating, where solar panels are used on your roof, which should supplement another heating system.

The panel is used to warm either liquid or air. The heated air or liquid is transferred to the living area using a radiant heat system or blower.

Both active and passive solar energy lower heating costs through solar gain. 

Underfloor Heating

You can get radiant heat without solar power via underfloor heating powered by electric coils or a boiler. No heat loss occurs when hot air passes through the ductwork.

When it comes to efficiency, underfloor heating is 15% more efficient than boiler-powered radiators. If you have allergies due to air from forced-air systems, this is a great option.

The challenge with this heating option is that installing it would require removing or replacing floor covering like tiles or hardwood. For this reason, underfloor heating is more suited for homes under construction or those being remodeled. 

Air Source Heat Pump

This heating system works on the same principles as an air conditioner, but it achieves the opposite result instead of cooling your room.

The fan in this pump draws in the outside air and heats it further after extracting its warmth. Some of these pumps are effective in temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

When it comes to extremely low temperatures, this pump is the most efficient. If the heating system has large radiators or underfloor heating, air-source heat pumps are the ideal choice.

Get The Best Heating Option This Winter

The best heating option for your home this winter will depend on the sunlight you get, whether you are going for significant renovations and your location.

If you're a resident of Massachusetts, then you can check the Massachusetts Electricity Rates for the best electricity plans.

No matter where you live, a smarter or greener option is always available. Check your local electricity rates to find out the best electricity plan!