When considering whether you should buy a home, heating issues are something you should take a close look at. This is particularly true with rising energy costs.
As you inspect potential homes, heating issues should be foremost in your mind. While obvious issues will be apparent, there are less obvious things that need to be considered.
1. Layout – The layout of a home can have a major impact on both heating issues and energy bills. While high ceilings are beautiful architectural aspects, they can be a huge heating issue. Heat rises, which means you are going to need more of it to warm a home with high ceilings. Always remember that high ceilings equate to high energy bills.
2. Control Areas – One way to reduce the heating requirements for high ceiling and tri-level homes is a controllable heating system. Many modern heating systems allow you to isolate particular sections of the home you wish to heat. These can be a godsend for larger homes where certain rooms are not used often.
3. Vents – A more mundane, but important issue, are vent locations. In some homes, the vent layout appears to have been undertaken by a drunken sailor. If you find vents located under windows, you can expect the heating bills to be outrageous. Also look for very large rooms with one or no vents as these rooms will take a long time to heat up.
With new homes, one can expect to find heating issues addressed competently. With older homes, you may need to consider how the heating issue is going to sap your cash flow during the winter months.
Types of Staple-Up Radiant Heating Systems
Under-floor radiant heat is ideal for homeowners that want to take advantage of the clean, even heat of a radiant heat system, but without the additional cost and labor of replacing your entire floors.
Under-floor radiant heat systems are installed underneath the current sub floor between the floor joists. This kind of installation is not as responsive as the aluminum base method but is more responsive than the thermal mass method.
There are a few common under-floor installation methods: staple-up with heat transfer plates, staple-up without heat transfer plates, and hanging tubing in the joist space. This is how they differ.
Staple-Up With Heat Transfer Plates
These systems use thin aluminum heat transfer plates that are stapled up with radiant heat tubing under your subfloor. The plates are highly conductive and provide a large surface area that will absorb heat more quickly and keep it warm much longer. Using heat transfer plates will disburse heat more evenly throughout the floor than the other under-floor methods.
You will want to get the best plate coverage possible. If using narrow plates, you should run two rows between each floor joist. By separating the tubing runs by around 8″ you will obtain a much more even heating pattern in the floor above.
By placing the staples on the outside edges of the plates you allow the tubing to be away from the sub floor and will help prevent any noises caused by expansion and contraction of the tubing.
Typical Heating Systems to Consider for your Home
Most people don’t even think about it. After all, they have a handy dandy thermostat to control their home’s climate for optimal comfort. Thanks to rising fuel costs though, homeowners are becoming more aware of their heating and cooling system and wondering how they can save money on their energy bill. If this scenario applies to you, it is possible to lower your energy bills.
Besides inspecting your home for obvious leaks in energy (weatherproofing and sealing cracks, etc.), you can invest in an energy efficient heating system. If your current system is old, it is not running at maximum efficiency, particularly since heating technology has come a long way in the past few years. The most energy efficient heating systems can be found in radiant heat, solar heat, furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, forced air heating and even hydronic heating. Basically you want to choose a system that you can not only operate easily but also saves you money on your heating bill. Here is a rundown of the different types of common heating systems:
1. Heat pumps – This is a traditional system that is energy efficient and can also serve double duty as an air conditioner. Heat pumps use electricity but expend less energy than other electric appliances.
2. Forced air heating – Sometimes known as central heating, has a main chamber called the furnace which uses gas, electric, coal or oil to heat a metal compartment. Air is pushed through the compartment to heat it and then pushed by an electric fan through an air duct system and delivered to various rooms via vents in the ceiling.
3. Radiant heating systems – Perhaps the most efficient of all heating systems, radiant heating comes from the floor, releasing warmth that rises to create a comfortable climate. A bit pricy for installation, tubing circulating warm water or electric cables emitting heat is located beneath the floor. It is a clean way to heat your home and can reduce your energy bill by up to 40%.
Managing Your Winter Heating Costs
With today’s growing costs for fuel, people are looking more and more toward alternative heating methods. People who live in climates where it gets cold have to have a means to heat their homes. Natural gas is used most often today in the United States. This type of energy is found in most homes that have a central heating system. Fossil fuel prices, though, are rising at an alarmingly rapid rate. Because of this, many homeowners are looking for less expensive alternative to …
Choosing alternative heating methods can be tricky and there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. The first thing a consumer should do when looking at alternative heating methods is to compare all the various types available in the particular area in which you reside. Then, check what the costs are for those energy sources. Some areas have higher cost than others. Electricity is sometimes cheaper than natural gas in some areas. However, the reverse can also be true. Propane and oil are other types of energy sources that can be considered as alternative heating methods. Solar power is another of the alternative heating methods that are increasing in popularity and may be ideal in many areas of the country.
Alternative heating methods should also be compared to the type of construction that is being done. If you are building a completely new structure, you have a variety of options. However, if you are remodeling or adding on to an existing structure, these should be taken separately. If you are remodeling an existing space, there may be some extensive refurbishing that will need to be done before alternative heating methods can be utilized. You will need to examine the cost savings across several years and compare that with the initial investment. If you plan to live in the home for several years, the cost may be well worth the initial investment since the savings, over time, may be significant even if there is a larger initial investment. However, if you plan on staying in the home a shorter period of time, you may want to wait until you are in a place that you plan on staying longer because the cost savings will be seen over a period of years in order to get a valuable return on your investment.
A heat loss calculation is a valuable too to use when considering alternative heating methods. This is important in determining the size and capacity of the alternative heating methods that need to be used in the home. A professional will use this calculation to provide the maximum potential for savings. If a unit is too small for the home, it will work overtime trying to heat the place and will cost more money. If you have a unit that is sized perfectly to your home it will be energy efficient and will allow you to get the maximum benefit for your investment. The reverse is also true. If you get a unit that is too large for your home, you will end up wasting money on a unit that is working and using up too much energy in your home.
The flooring and sub floor of the building should also be considered when choosing alternative heating methods. If you have concrete floors, tile, hardwood or carpeting, certain alternative heating methods are better in each application. There are some alternative heating methods that will work wonderfully in all situations and some that are designed to work more efficiently with a specific material. Also consider if you plan on changing the type of flooring in your home to determine if you want to have alternative heating methods that are versatile enough to give you the flexibility to change in the future. If you have an existing structure this may be different than if you are pouring a completely new slab for your building or addition.