Looking for the most efficient heating system? Depending on your region, wintertime can be a bit of hassle. Not only do you have to deal with scraping ice off of your car on frigid mornings to get to work, but you also have shorter days, snowy weather, dicey road conditions, and cabin fever to contend with. All of these aspects of winter means that having a nice, warm house to come home to is a must. Unfortunately, as you have likely already figured out, heating a house, especially an older, drafty home in the dead of winter can cost a pretty penny. If you want to save money on heating, there are better options than layering on your hats and gloves in your living room and cranking your thermostat below 50 degrees.
According to experts, home heating is one of the most costly systems, making up an average of 42% of your utility bill. This makes finding and installing an efficient system a priority. Though there might be some upfront cost involved, if you plan to keep your house for at least a few years, a new, efficient heating system will likely pay for itself. Here is the most efficient way to heat a house and other money and energy-saving tips for conserving warmth in your home this winter. This guide will show you the cheapest way to heat a home.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Among the cheapest ways to heat your home. The size and location of air source heat pumps will vary depending on need, but these high efficiency home heating systems will usually be square and attached against the side of your home.
Heat pumps pull in heat from outdoors, either the air or the ground depending on your system, and bring it into your home, using significantly less energy and electricity than other heating options and not contributing to air pollution since they do not burn fossil fuels or generate exhaust gasses. Heat pumps essentially just transfer heat from one location to another and will often operate at ¼ the cost of a traditional heat source while still providing the same comfortable temperature. These home heating systems can also be used in reverse in the summer to remove the heat from a room, making them a wonderful investment for the whole year.
While the most efficient heating option for you will vary depending on your location, your house, and your existing heat system, most heating experts suggest that heat pumps are the most energy-efficient and cost-effective option, especially for milder climates. If you live in a location that doesn’t usually experience temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat pump may be the solution to your winter heating dilemma. Heat pumps can be expensive to install so it is important to make sure that this efficient heating system is right for you before investing. Talk to a qualified professional to get a quote and go over your options for heating systems as this may not be the right choice for you.
Most Efficient Heating System: Geothermal Heat Pumps
Probably the cheapest way to heat your home, ground source heat pumps or geothermal heat pumps are less common than air source heat pumps, but provide among the most efficient heating system solution. Geothermal heat pumps may actually cost less to operate than air-source heat pumps, as the geothermal systems are less affected by cold outdoor ambient temperatures. Instead, they use soil or a nearby body of water as the heat source.
Typical cost of a geothermal heat pump ranges from $11,000 to $25,000, worthwhile investment given it is the most efficient heating system and cheapest way to heat a home in the long run.
Though furnaces can be effective home heating systems, older ones may be costing you more money than necessary. Have a professional inspect your furnace to determine its age and efficiency.
Gas furnaces, oil furnaces, and electric furnaces make up the majority of heating sources in residential homes and while old heating systems are incredibly antiquated and inefficient, newer models with more technology can really boost your heating efficiency. Keep in mind, if you have a dated furnace, you may want to invest in a more modern, efficient heating system as it could save you money in the long run. Combine a new furnace with some simple heat-saving tips and your bill will drop dramatically.
There are a lot of new furnaces with energy-saving technology that can cut down your heating budget and help you get more heat for your hard-earned dollar. However, it is not usually worth replacing an existing furnace with one that is already a few years old as they become obsolete fairly quickly.
Electric and oil furnaces generally tend to be less efficient. With oil furnaces, fuel oil is burned to create heat. With gas furnaces, natural gas or propane is burned to create heat. More than 50% of homes still heat with a gas furnace. A gas furnace can be one of the cheapest ways to heat your home.
Radiant floor or wall heating is an excellent way to utilize generated warmth and deliver it to you, without wasting it on traveling through ventilation or delivering allergens. This type of heat uses radiant heat transfer (infrared radiation) to deliver heat from the source, which can be hot water flowing through tubing or electric cables in the walls, floor or both.
Radiant heating is a clean, energy-efficient heating system that isn’t as drying as other sources of heat and is often considered more pleasant. This comfort doesn’t come without its downsides though, as radiant floor heating can be pricey to install, especially if you are looking to overhaul an existing heating system and incorporate it into an already-established home heating system.
Less-Effective Home Heating Systems
While a wood stove may be cozy and old fashioned, it isn’t an energy efficient or effective home heating system to heat your home, especially if you don’t have ductwork installed to deliver the heat throughout the house.
Though these options are often used for heat, they aren’t necessarily very effective and can cost more than you may think. However, they could be beneficial as supplemental heat-sources or may work well for you as main sources, depending on your home and your needs.
Wood or Pellet stoves
While wood-burning stoves may heat up your home nicely, they also let off a large number of pollutants and are extremely messy. Plus, there is the natural fire risk that comes along with having a roaring flame in your home, even if it is behind glass. Pellet stoves may burn a little cleaner but pellets can often be expensive and you will need a large stove to heat an average size room, meaning the cost of pellets can really add up.
PowerSmith Ash Vacuum
There is something incredibly cozy and soothing about a real fire though, and if you want that ambiance and decide to go with a wood or pellet stove a vacuum like the PowerSmith Ash Vacuum will help make cleaning the ash out of your stove a breeze. This powerful vacuum is easy-to-use, come with a variety of attatchments and is heat resistant, meaning it can be used to clean warm and cool ash out of wood stoves, pellet stoves, and even charcoal barbeque grills.
Passive solar heating
Utilizing heavy drapes and curtains will certainly ensure that you make the most of the sunlight entering your home and conserve whatever heat is produced. It is not a reliable way to heat your home, unfortunately, as sunlight is inconsistent and the winter is often cloudy. It may be useful in an extremely mild climate, so keep that in mind if you live down south.
Supplementing your existing heat system with the occasional use of a space heater is a good way to warm up rooms with poor ventilation while you are in them. However, leaving space heaters on overnight or relying on them as your main source of heat will simply hike up your electric bill and serve as nothing more than a safety hazard. There may be time when it could be beneficial as a supplemental heat source so it is always a good idea to have one around.
Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater
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If you do want to use a space heater to help warm up a cold room in your home, this Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater is marked as energy-efficient and has a built-in programmable thermostat that will turn it off automatically when the room reaches a certain temperature. It can warm up to 300 sq. ft., making it the perfect option for a bedroom or office. Plus, unlike other older heaters, it has a cool-touch exterior and other safety features, meaning that it is safe to be used around children.
Other ways to save on heating costs and operating costs
When it comes to heating your home, these home heating system tips will help you increase energy efficiency, cut your utility bill and conserve money and energy during the winter months. Whether you decide to install a new system or not, you can utilize these ideas for efficient heating systems to save on operating costs and heating costs without spending a fortune.
Use a programmable thermostat
Investing a few bucks in a programmable thermostat can really cut back on your unnecessary heating costs.
Millions of people waste money heating their home when they are at work because they forget to turn the thermostat down before they leave. While it doesn’t make sense to turn the heat off, as it will just take longer to warm up again, it is a good idea to set it about five degrees cooler than you would if you were home. Use a programmable thermostat in your home heating systems so that you don’t even have to think about it.
Nest Learning Thermostat
If you want to integrate your thermostat into your other smart appliances like a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, this WIFI connected, voice control-enabled, this Nest Learning Thermostat is the perfect way to catapult your heating system into the future. Regardless of the heating system you have, the Google Nest Thermostat will integrate seamlessly, working with over 95% of heating and cooling systems including gas, radiant, oil, hot water, solar, geothermal,
electric, forced air, and heat pump. It works hard to learn your activities and creates a schedule of heating and cooling that revolves around the weather and your desired temperature settings.
Fill cracks and holes
If you live in an older or poorly built home, you likely experience drafts from under the doors, attic or basement access, or spaces around your windows. Install heat-saving thresholds under the doors or use plastic window coverings on windows that are going unused to help eliminate drafts and keep your heat indoors. Grab a tube of caulk from the hardware store and cover any cracks or holes in your home. It is also a good idea to install insulation on your attic door to trap heat downstairs.
Turn the heat down
The simplest way to save on your heating bill is to simply turn your heating system down a few degrees. Wear sweaters and slippers in the house to stay warm and cuddle up under a blanket while watching TV. Even just lowering your daytime heat from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 68 degrees will make a huge difference in cost without a massive change in comfort.
Use your curtains
Opening curtains during the day to let in warm sunlight is known as passive solar heating. While this isn’t viable for most climates as a sole source of heat, it works well to supplement other systems.
Throw open the curtains or blinds on south-facing windows during the day to let in the warm sun and keep other curtains shut to hold in the heat. Keeping all of the curtains closed is also a great way to keep your house cool in the summertime.
Change your filter
Regardless of what type of heating system you use, it’s likely that the home heating system has some kind of filter. Failing to change these filters on time can cause your system to work harder which increases your heating bill and slashes efficiency. Plus, a dirty filter can release nasty allergens and dust particles in the air. Change your filter in the manufacturer-recommended time frame to avoid these issues.
Filtrete Furnace Air Filter
Certain filters, like the Filtrete Furnace Air Filter, are specially formulated to trap allergens and odor including pet stench and hair, smoke, and cooking or chemical smells. In fact, this Odor Defense Filter is 25 times more effective than other national retail filters at odor removal. Experts recommend changing your filter at least every 90 days to help your system function optimally. If you stick to this schedule and even purchase more effective filters such as the Filtrete Air Furnace Filter, you will only be spending around $60 per year. A small price to pay for the increase in efficiency, cleaner air, and less allergens.
Though these ideas may seem like common sense, it is easy to get lazy and forget to do simple things that improve energy efficiency and cut down on heating costs as the winter progresses. These small things can make a big difference and help you figure out the cheapest ways to heat your home!
Consider installing a heat pump if it is a viable option for you, update your furnace if you have the resources, or take a few easy steps to maximize your heat efficiency and save money. Hope this guide on the cheapest ways to heat your home was useful.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.