In our part of the country, we tend to think about our AC bills more than our heating bills—at least for much of the year. So you may be surprised to find that your bills are so high in the winter as well.
Chances are that you’re paying more than you have to on heating, especially if your heating system is over 10-15 years old. If you’re in the market for a new system, or even a new accessory to make heating more efficient and save money over time, we have some suggestions.
High-Efficiency Gas vs. Electric Furnaces
Sometimes, an electric furnace is the best, most cost-effective heating option for a home. However, the cost of using electricity can be quite high in our area, so we often recommend against it for people with access to natural gas.
An electric furnace uses a lot of energy to generate heat via electric resistance. This is an energy intensive process, so even if an electric furnace has a 100% efficiency rating, it could still cost quite a bit to run! A high-efficiency gas furnace has an AFUE rating of about 89% or higher, so we may recommend this route instead—or the options listed in the next section.
Heat Pumps and Ductless Systems
If electric heating is still the best option for your home, we recommend a heat pump. A heat pump looks (and acts) just like an air conditioner, but it uses refrigeration to heat a home as well! Typically, refrigerant (a chemical blend in the system) only transfers heat out of a home, but in heating mode, a heat pump moves it back in! This is highly efficient, as heat transfer requires less energy than heat generation.
You can have a heat pump even without any air ducts! A ductless system, or ductless mini-split, provides heating and cooling that’s as efficient as central heat pumps. Wall units are mounted around the home and connected to a single outdoor unit, without the need for major renovations.
What if you had a thermostat in each important room of your home? You could shut off the air to some areas and keep it going in others, and save quite a bit! That’s what you get with a zoning system. It’s a large undertaking, and it will involve some renovations, but in the end you get advanced control that allows for energy savings and precision heating and cooling.
Geothermal is the future of heating and cooling. Most air conditioners and heat pumps rely on the unpredictable and ever-changing temperature of the outdoor air for heat exchange, but a geothermal system is different.
The temperature several feet underground stays nearly stable all year-round! With a geothermal system, heat is absorbed from or released into the earth, which is a more reliable way for the heat exchange process in your heat pump to take place. Energy savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for a household are common!