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What Method of Heating Is Truly the Most Efficient?

If you need a new heater, you will be faced with a lot of important decisions. How big should your new heater be? What features do you want? How much are you willing to spend? However, above all of these things, your new heater’s energy efficiency rating might be the single most important choice of all. A more efficient heater will save you more money on energy costs, but a heater that is too efficient may drive up the price too much to make it worthwhile for you.

Likewise, the type of heating system you have will also greatly influence energy efficiency and overall unit cost. Therefore, knowing what type of heating system is the most efficient can help you make a better choice as to what is best for your home. Here are the three most common types of heating systems, ranked according to their general energy consumption.

3. Gas & Electric Furnaces

Gas and electric furnaces generally use more energy than the other two entries on this list, but that does not mean they’re the “worst” of the bunch. As you’ll see by reading further, a lot of factors other than fuel go into determining a system’s overall efficiency and operating cost.

Pros: Furnaces are perhaps the oldest technology on this list, with similar types of units being used to heat homes and businesses around the world for decades. Therefore, this type of technology has been iterated on and improved many, many times over. Furnaces are generally extremely reliable, and further advancements have made them considerably more efficient than their predecessors. They’re generally the most affordable type of heating system to install, they don’t freeze over during extremely cold weather, and they’re generally the easiest to install in most homes.

Cons: Furnaces heat air with air, and that is generally far less efficient than other methods of heating. Your furnace will burn through more fuel to keep you warm, and that means operating costs will generally be higher. Because they also use air to heat air, they do make a bit more noise than other styles of heater and they do also generally impact air quality to a much higher degree.

2. Gas & Electric Boilers

Gas and electric boilers are somewhat unique on this list. Generally, if your home is set up to use a boiler, that will be the only type of heating system you will use for the life of your property. Boilers require a lot of additional infrastructure in the form of water lines running throughout your home. While this makes them ideal for homes with limited space that makes a duct system impossible, installing a boiler is generally best done during initial construction.

Pros: Boilers use water to heat air, and that makes them tremendously efficient at transporting heat throughout your home. They are generally highly energy efficient, make almost no noise when operating, and require less maintenance to run smoothly. They also tend to last longer than your average furnace or heat pump as well.

Cons: We discussed arguably the biggest con with boilers already: if you don’t have one installed when your home is constructed, you probably aren’t going to want to install one after the fact. They’re much more difficult and expensive to install than a traditional furnace or heat pump. This makes them largely cost-prohibitive, even with their increased efficiency. Second, boilers also have another pretty big risk: leaks. If a water line springs a leak, the boiling water could damage your home and pose a serious safety risk.

1. Electric Heat Pumps

When it comes to a pure head-to-head efficiency showdown, electric heat pumps take the prize. These heaters are by far the best when it comes to keeping your home warm while using as little energy as possible to do so. But, as with the other types on this list, efficiency is only part of the story.

Pros: A heat pump doesn’t actually burn any fuel to produce heat. Instead, these systems capture heat where you don’t want it, compress it, and then carry it inside where you do. This process is remarkably efficient and produces no carbon emissions. That also makes this type of heating system the most eco-friendly option on this list. Heat pumps generally have the lowest operating cost as well, and they are great for a wide variety of climates.

Cons: Heat pumps do have their limitations. For example, if your home does not already have refrigerant lines installed for an air conditioning system, installing a heat pump can be a tremendous undertaking. Heat pumps do generally have higher maintenance requirements than other types of heating systems due to their increased number of critical moving parts. Finally, heat pumps also require the temperature outside to be within a certain range. While most heat pumps can operate with spectacular efficiency in temperatures down into the teens, they can only do so much when there just isn’t enough thermal energy to collect. Likewise, heat pumps do have “warm up” cycles where they stop producing hot air in order to defrost the heat collection system. That can lead to some temperature fluctuations inside.

To learn more about your options for installing a new heating system, turn to the experts at Bay Heating & Air Conditioning! Call us at (440) 294-4954 today.