Whether your goal is to stop using space heaters or to upgrade to a more efficient unit to save money on your heating bills, a heater comparison can help you determine the unit that you need. Depending on your fuel source, your climate and the size of your home, there are different types of heaters and different features that may benefit you. Before you commit to buying a new heater, compare home heating systems from different companies to make sure you get the best deal.
Evaluate the different types of home heating systems. Electric heaters are the most common type of home heating system used, but they are expensive to operate. Natural gas heaters generally operate more efficiently than electric heaters. Solid fuel heaters use wood or coal to heat the house. Solar heaters are the most expensive type of heater, but they operate on solar power, which means there are no fuel costs. If you live in an area where it can become cloudy and very cold, you will need a backup source of heat.
Determine if incorporating a heat pump into your home heating system could save additional money on heating bills. A heat pump pulls heat from the cool air outside and uses it to heat your house instead of generating its own heat. Heat pumps operate when the temperature is -1.11 to 7.22 degrees C outside. When it's colder than that, the heat pump requires supplemental heat to adequately heat the home, which is why it's paired with a traditional home heating system. Consider a heat pump if you live in a moderate climate area.
Check the Energy Star rating when you conduct your heater comparison. Energy Star rates a heater's efficiency on a scale from one to six and displays it on the unit. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the heater. To help you find an efficient unit for your home, compare the listing of home heating systems at The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (see Resources).
Compare home systems with high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratings, also known as AFUE. Federal Appliance Energy Standards of 1993 require home heating systems to have an AFUE of at least 80 per cent, meaning only 20 per cent of heat generated is lost. When you compare heating systems, you'll find that there are home heaters with an AFUE up to 96 per cent, meaning there's only a 4 per cent inefficiency.
Add an electronically-commutated blower, or ECM blower, to your home heating system to save even more money. The cost to operate an ECM blower to push heated air through your ductwork is only 20 per cent of what it costs to operate a standard furnace fan.
Buy a home heating system that's the appropriate size for your home. Buying a unit that's too large or too small will cause you to waste energy. A licensed contractor can measure your home to find the heater size that your home requires. Expect him to measure the area of your house, the amount of insulation you have, the number of windows in your home and the placement of your house in relation to the sun. Using this information, the contractor will create a heat loss/heat gain calculation to determine the size of heating unit you need.
Ask about installation costs. Some systems will cost more than others to install. However, a system may be more expensive to install but in the long run be less expensive to operate. Get a contract in writing before you proceed to make sure everything that's part of the installation process is included.
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