The Canadian winter usually compels people to make important and at times really expensive decisions for their home’s comfort and safety. The sad truth is heating systems and the processes it involves can cost a small fortune. That being said, it is imperative that you take your time to understand the heating process, your home’s heating needs, the costs and expenses, and the advantages and disadvantages of the different heating options that are available for your home.
London homes usually spend 80% of their entire energy consumption on home and water heating alone. Given that huge percentage, it’s only reasonable that homeowners be presented with different options to choose from and be made aware of the pros and cons each option gives them. To help you make the final decision on the best heating option for your home, read on to find out more about the 5 different heating systems.
Choose the Right Sized Heating System
Finding the best heating option for your home doesn’t only mean choosing the right unit that works for you. It also entails choosing the right size based on your heating requirements. This is not an easy task that can be done by just about anyone who can do some math. You will need a reputable HVAC contractor who is equipped with the latest technology and updated knowledge to do some tests and calculations needed to assess the amount of heat your home requires and the how much heat your home loses.
Here are 5 heating options available for your home today.
Forced Air Heating Systems
Almost 90% of homes utilize forced air system for their heating needs. The main parts of a central forced air heating system are:
- Furnace to heat the air and a fan or blower to circulate air
- Supply ducts that deliver warm air into all the rooms
- Return ducts that suck the cold air and draw them back to the furnace for processing
- Thermostats that are used to control the heater’s operation
- Forced air heating systems are generally affordable
- Heats and/or cools room fast
- Heating and cooling system can run through the same ductwork
- Humidifies and dehumidifies the home
- Filters the indoor air
- Requires a huge amount of space for the ductwork
- If left unattended or uncleaned, the circulated air may contain allergens
- Noises coming from the unit may be distracting
If your current heating system is on its 10th to 15th year in service, it is said that the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is at about 60%. This means you are squandering up to 40 cents for every dollar that you spend on fuel. This also means that even if your system is running well, the fact that it can be a huge energy drain should be enough to get you to consider replacing your current system for a high-efficiency unit that ranges from 90 to 98 percent AFUE.
Note that the federal government has also issued a minimum performance standard for gas furnaces and that all manufacturers should strictly adhere to this standard since its implementation on December 31, 2009.
Electric heating is the next popular option for heating in Canada. Despite its popularity, only a few homes utilize this because of the high electricity bills that it brings about.
- Because it uses a convection process, it eliminates the inefficiencies of combustion which makes the unit 100% efficient
- Low initial cost.
- This system consumes a lot of power or electricity
- It can be a fire hazard if not properly used
Hydronic Heating System
Hydronic heating systems make use of water heated in a boiler that is run by gas, electricity, oil, or fuel. When the water mixed with glycol is heated, it goes through infinite laps through the coils of plastic piping that are installed beneath the floor. The most popular version of this hydronic heating system is found in in-floor radiant heating that takes advantage of the same effect when you feel the warm heat of the sun.
- Heat radiates from the floor and creates a consistent warm effect throughout the home
- The system continuously produces heat even when it is not on
- Takes up lesser space compared to forced air systems
- Hydronic system can also function to heat water used throughout the home
- Does not produce loud annoying noises
- There is no risk of having dust or allergens in your indoor air
- Requires less or no maintenance
- Does not have an integrated heating and cooling unit in one which makes an air conditioning unit an additional expense for the homeowner
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Another heating option to choose from is the ground source heat pump (GSHP). This type of heating system makes use of a refrigerant that is sent through an underground piping that is installed about 200 feet below the ground. The refrigerant pulls the heat from the earth and is coursed through the entire home through the pipes. This system is run by electricity can be used in the summer with the cycle reversed.
- GSHP will work with other heating options such as forced-air heating or hydronic systems
- Highly efficient
- Heat produced by the system is more stable
- No harmful emissions
- This system is more expensive to install
- The long underground piping that this system requires makes installation difficult and even impossible on smaller lots
- As is with the other systems and appliances that use electricity, they have very limited potential for decreasing greenhouse emissions
You can find out more about ground source heat pumps by visiting Natural Resources Canada’s website.
Lastly, wood stoves are another heating option you can have for your home. Whether you are trying to heat a small, well-insulated home or a large open area, wood stoves can do a great heating job. In fact, the newer models of wood stoves today can have an efficiency rating of 70%. If you are looking for a cheaper option for your home’s primary or supplemental heating, wood stoves can be the wise choice.
- Wood is cheaper to purchase as compared to having to use electricity which can be very expensive
- Any homeowner who can get wood from their own property can make a huge deal of savings
- Wood is a renewable resource
Wood stoves are great supplemental heating options if nothing else works.
Incorrectly sized units could cause some problems. If a stove is too big for the space it is trying to heat, it produces excessive heat and leaves black residue in the flue and the stovepipe. On the other hand, one that’s too small could potentially be a fire hazard as it exerts great effort to heat the space.
When choosing wood stoves, it is important to always opt for the units that are approved by the Canadian Standards and those that are highly efficient with low pollutants. The installation of wood stoves also must comply with the fire safety regulations and all building codes.