Home Heating Alternatives
Save money on home heating with environmentally friendly alternatives
By Kathryn Keep
Fossil fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil and the coal burned to generate electricity are not environmentally friendly, and they're relatively expensive. Look for ways to cut your heating costs with alternative home heating methods. Tax incentives, where available, may make some heating alternatives more affordable. Upfront costs for home heating alternatives can be high, but the savings in energy costs can add up quickly.
Geothermal Heat Pump
Geothermal heat pumps work by circulating an antifreeze-like substance deep underground where temperatures remain constant throughout the seasons. Heat is transfered to your home by passing air over the warmed coils, providing a steady home temperature through cold winters and hot summers. A geothermal heat pump can also provide hot water for home use. As of 2009, the general installed cost for a geothermal heat pump system was from $5,000 to $10,000. Geothermal systems are best installed with new construction.
Pellet stoves burn pellets made from wood chips, sawdust, corn kernels, nut shells or other biomass that would normally be considered waste. They burn much more cleanly than wood stoves, and many models are directly vented and don't require a chimney. As of 2009, pellet stoves cost between $1,700 and $3,000, and the fuel pellets cost an average of $120 to $200 per ton. Pellet stoves use electricity and because of their fans, make a constant noise.
Biodiesel, also known as biofuel and bioheat, is made from corn and soybean oil byproducts blended with standard heating oil. Blends of up to 20 percent biodiesel can be used just like standard heating oil, with no difference to the furnace or heating system. Technically it is possible to use up to 100 percent biodiesel, but pure biodiesel can degrade rubber seals and void the warranty on your heating system.
Radiant heating involves wet or dry heating elements underneath the floor that supply heat directly to objects in the room rather than through forced air. This allows you to be more comfortable at significantly lower temperatures, which saves energy. Radiant heat is only practical to install when you are building a home or pouring a new foundation because the system resides under the floor. For existing construction, consider wall or ceiling radiant-heat panels. Ceramic tile is generally the best type of floor for radiant heating because it holds heat very well.
About the Author
Kathryn Keep is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She is an eco-consultant, with expertise in environmental issues, home decorating, green building, and general sustainable living.
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