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Home Heating Options | Pros and Cons

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Wondering what your home heating options are? The Canadian winter usually compels people to make essential and, at times, costly decisions for their home’s comfort and safety. The sad truth is heating systems, and the processes it involves can cost a small fortune. Thus, it is imperative that you take your time to understand the healing process, which includes:
  • home’s heating needs
  • costs and expenses
  • advantages and disadvantages of the heating options
Canadian homes usually spend 80% of their total energy consumption on home and water heating alone. Given these considerable costs, it’s only reasonable that homeowners review with different options to choose from and be made aware of the pros and cons each option gives them. Before replacing your furnace or heating system, read on to learn more about the different home heating systems.

Home Heating Options | Choose the Right Sized Heating System

Finding the best home heating option for your home doesn’t only mean choosing the suitable unit that works for you. It also entails selecting the proper size based on your heating requirements. Choosing the right-sized heating unit is not a DIY job. It requires a reputable HVAC contractor equipped with the latest technology and updated knowledge. The contractor conducts tests and calculations to assess the amount of heat your home needs and how much heat your home loses. Here are five home heating options available for your home today.

Home Heating Option #1: Forced Air Heating Systems

Almost 90% of homes utilize forced air systems 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 control the heater’s operation
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Requires a considerable 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 10+ years old, the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is 60%. The 60% AFUE means you are squandering up to 40 cents for every dollar you spend on fuel. Your energy bills should motivate you to consider 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. All manufacturers should strictly adhere to this standard since its implementation on December 31, 2009.

Heating Option #2: Electric Heating

Electric heating is the next popular home heating option in Canada. Despite its popularity, only a few homes utilize this because of the high electricity bills that it brings about. Advantages
  • The convection process 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

Home Heating Option #3: Hydronic Heating System

Hydronic heating systems use water heated in a boiler. Fuel options for boilers include gas, electricity, oil, or fuel. When the water mixed with glycol is heated, it goes through endless laps through the coils of plastic piping installed beneath the floor. The most popular hydronic heating system is in-floor radiant heating that takes advantage of the same effect when you feel the warm heat of the sun. Advantages
  • 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
  • It takes up lesser space compared to forced air systems
  • A hydronic system can also function to heat water used throughout the home
  • It does not produce loud annoying noises
  • There is no risk of having dust or allergens in your indoor air
  • Requires less or no maintenance
  • It does not have an integrated heating and cooling unit, which makes an air conditioning unit an additional expense for the homeowner

Heating Option #4: Ground Source Heat Pumps

Another heating option is the ground source heat pump (GSHP). This type of heating system uses a refrigerant sent through underground piping installed about 200 feet below the ground. The refrigerant pulls the heat from the earth and distributes the heat throughout the home via pipes. Powered by electricity, it can be used in the summer with the cycle reversed. Advantages
  • GSHP will work with other heating options such as forced-air heating or hydronic systems
  • Highly efficient
  • Works in most climates.
  • 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 minimal potential for decreasing greenhouse emissions
You can find out more about ground source heat pumps by visiting Natural Resources Canada’s website.

Home Heating Option #5: Wood Stoves

Lastly, wood stoves are another heating option you can have for your home. Whether trying to heat a small, well-insulated home or a large open area, wood stoves can do an excellent heating job. 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 a wise choice. Advantages
  • 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 property can make a massive deal of savings
  • Wood is a renewable resource
Wood stoves are great supplemental heating options if nothing else works. Disadvantages 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 excellent effort to heat the space. When choosing wood stoves, it is important to always opt for the units 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.

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