Heating Systems: Choose Carefully for Your New Home or Renovations
Choosing heating systems for a new or existing home is always easier when you know more about the best kinds for our climate, which include gas-powered systems and heat pumps that rely on electricity to move three times and more of heat energy into your home per unit of energy they use.
- Combustion furnaces – Forced-air gas furnaces are by far the most prevalent type of heating equipment in our region. They’re capable of warming homes regardless of the outdoor temperatures. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is changing the minimum efficiency rating for new gas furnaces to 80 AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) as of January 1, 2015 — up from 78 AFUE, the current standard.An 80 AFUE indicates the system uses 80 percent of the fuel it consumes directly for heating. Systems are available with AFUE ratings that approach 98 percent, and in a climate like ours where heating demands are relatively high, these systems makes financial sense.
- Radiant heating systems – The heat source for radiant systems often use natural gas or propane and offer silent, steady and even heating. They use tubing in the floors or walls that radiate heat outward, instead of blowing heated air through ductwork. These systems work well for new construction, as well as retrofits for existing homes.
- Heat pumps – With careful installation, a heat pump will both efficiently cool and heat homes in this region, especially if it has a high HSPF (heating season performance factor). Heat pumps move heat from the outdoors in the winter and reverse the process in the summer.A geothermal heat pump is by far the most energy efficient HVAC system to condition your home year-round, although air-source heat pumps are easier and less expensive to install. For best performance from these appliances, your home should be as airtight and well insulated as possible, and the HVAC contractor needs to do a detailed load calculation using Manual J software.