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San Diego Home Heating Guide

December 9, 2013

Home Heating Guide

All homes feature different heating systems—some of them are more efficient than others. As time passes more advancements are made in home heating, allowing us to heat a space efficiently while making as small an impact on natural resources as possible. Regardless of what heating system your home uses, there are ways to maximize efficiency. And if you’re in the market for a home heating system upgrade, the following information will help you choose what direction to take.

Here is a quick sampling of heating methods, old and new, available in today’s homes.

1. Fireplace

The oldest method of heating devised by humans, the hearth fire is mesmerizing and warms both the heart and the body. However, its disadvantages can be considerable. It uses trees as fuel and contributes to air pollution. It is also fairly inefficient at heating large spaces and can be hazardous if regular cleaning is put off for an extended period of time.

2. Pellet or wood burning stove

As an improvement on the fireplace, stoves can burn pelletized wood scraps or smaller pieces of wood and generate more heat. Pellet stoves produce an insignificant amount of air pollution, and the fuel is made from wood waste created by the lumber industry. A stove can heat a large room, but it’s still relatively ineffective at heating an entire house worth of space.

3. Central heating

Central heating generally involves either gas-burning or electric furnace. Colder air is pulled in thru a return vent to be heated by the furnace, filtered and then distributed thru a ducting system thru the entire home. Central heating keeps all rooms evenly warm, but related utility bills can be high depending on usage and fuel type. The furnace and ducts must be checked and maintained regularly. Newer central heating furnaces can have efficiencies of up to 98% and are far quieter than older 80% models.

4. Space heaters

Space heaters are small, portable heaters designed to heat a small area such as a bedroom, bathroom, or office. They can be electric, propane, or kerosene-fueled. They are an excellent option for occasional use in a space that can’t be efficiently heated any other way, but they can be costly to operate; especially if they are of the electric variety.

5. Solar heating

Solar power generators use energy from the sun to either create electricity, which is then used to power traditional central heating, or heat water, which may be used to operate a radiant heating system. Although sometimes expensive to install and not practical in all areas, solar power has the potential to drastically cut a household’s utility costs if managed well.

6. Radiant heating

Radiant heating, often used in conjunction with other methods, circulates hot water in pipes built into the flooring of a home. It is an excellent choice for bathrooms and bedrooms, providing gentle warmth rather than the high temperatures of space heaters or central heating. Radiant heating can be expensive to install and may not be a practical addition to older buildings, but it can lower the monthly heating bill in some building configurations.

7. Heat pumps

Heat pumps are a popular method in milder climates like San Diego’s. These come in several varieties: air-source pumps use electricity to transfer heat between the house and the outdoor air; geothermal pumps pull heat from underground sources and can work well even in very cold climates; and absorption heat pumps can be powered by several heat sources, including natural gas, wood, and coal. Because this is a relatively new technology that requires installation of pipes underground or into walls, the initial cost can be high, but the day-to-day operating costs are very low—even when the primary energy source is electricity. Some heat pumps use a variable-speed compressor to reduce wear on the unit and save energy. Many homeowners use ductless mini-split heat pumps to create zones of different temperatures in their house, further increasing energy efficiency.

The best heating method for any home will depend on several factors, including climate, subsoil, how the house was built, and how the home is used. If you’re not sure what heating system is best for your home or would like an assessment of your home’s current system, give Bob Jenson Air Conditioning & Heating a call. We’ll be happy to help!

About The Author

Bob Jenson

For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.

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