Heating your Ohio Home

~ How to efficiently heat your renovated Home ~ 

Five Ideas

1. Geothermal

by The Greenest Dollar

Energy Star reports that a geothermal heating system is the most efficient and environmentally-friendly way to heat your home.

Geothermal literally means “earth heat”. And, to put it bluntly, they’re awesome systems.

 Traditional forced-air systems (like most of us have) use the outside air as a base to heat the house. So, if it’s 10 degrees out the furnace has to heat that 10 degree air up to 70 degrees to make it comfortable inside. This, as you can imagine, takes a lot of energy to do.

A geothermal system, on the other hand, uses the constant, stable temperature of the earth as a base to heat your home. The earth’s temperature stays at a constant temperature, usually 45 degrees to 75 degrees, depending on your latitude. Because the temperature of the earth is much higher than the outside air, it takes a lot less energy to get it to 70 degrees.

The unit works with large coils that are buried in the earth. A liquid, usually a mixture of water and anti-freeze, runs through the tubes. That water (which is the same temperature of the earth) is then run through your home. A compressor extracts the heat from the water, and then raises the temperature to what your thermostat is set at.

The system also works in reverse: in the summer, your geothermal unit can easily cool your home using the earth’s temperature at a fraction of the cost of your air conditioner.

Now, the costs for installing a geothermal heating system are pretty steep. You can bank on spending $7,000 to $15,000 for a complete system.

But, here’s the good news. Depending on your part of the country, the system will pay for itself in 5-8 years and add significant resale value to your home.

Plus, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that geothermal heating systems run at 300%- 600% efficiency on the coldest nights, versus 175%- 250% of air-source heat pumps on cool days.

Many experts claim that a geothermal system in a 1,500 square foot home will heat and cool your home for $1 per day. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty awesome.

And the best part is that you’re not using any fossil fuels to heat and cool your home.

~

2. Fire Place Heat Exchanger

by Green $ense

A fireplace heat exchanger upgrade or and EPA certified insert which I looked up on E How to try to understand a bit better. The idea is that you can insert a new energy-efficient unit into your existing hearth and allow the heat generated by the fire to help generate heat into your home through a blower door.

Inserts for wood-burning fireplaces improve the safety and efficiency of the unit. An insert is a metal firebox, often with a glass door for visible flames, which fits within the fireplace opening, allowing the smoke to be vented through the existing fireplace chimney.-E How

3. Furnaces

by Lennox

I reviewed gas and electric furnaces, and have based the following on efficiency ratings. ‘A natural gas furnace that operates at 80 percent efficiency–80 percent of the energy used to run the furnace goes into warming the air–will perform better than a gas furnace rated at 70 percent. An electric furnace rated at 90 percent will be closer in cost to a gas furnace rated at 80 percent than one at 90 percent.’ –E How states.

So, the first furnace I looked into, a Lennox SLP98V, is a 98% efficient  gas furnace. SLP98V Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace

Consumer Reports breaks down a review on the most common brands on their website too here.

Consider also a programmable thermostat that allows you to have heat when you need it most. Not when you aren’t at home, and not when you are under the covers. Places where you have a lot of southern light will be warmer, and tend to need different air conditions than do the shady Northern facing rooms.

4. Heat Pump

I’ve recently been introduced to the Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump by a friend who uses the system to create a warm room in his super-insulated home. It is a ductless system that runs coils through your walls to a wall or ceiling mounted unit that heats or cools your air for comfort. Though, some people may not like the wall mounted aesthetic.

Fujitsu General

Inside Above.   Outside Below.

 

fujit

5. Insulate!

As always, I think it’s best to keep in that warm air with great insulation and to caulk around openings, penetrations and drywall connections.

A few insulation products that I have researched are:  Weka – Wool insulation through Artemis, Ultra Touch Cotton,  Bonded Logic, EcoBatt,  Greensulate by Ecovative Design, Cell Pak Blow in Insulation, Green Fiber Loose Fill Insulation, Icynene Spray Foam formaldehyde-free, and recycled newspaper is used in cellulose blow-in applications such as NuWool, and USA Premium Insulation. Insulation board can provide up to a 7 R value per inch as well!

There you have it.. now develop a  plan to keep warm this winter!

Utilities Use – Electricity

How to help the fact that we need light!? Solution: arrange what functions you do in houses and buildings to take advantage of natural light. A window facing south will give you light 2.5 (x) the height of the window  into the length into the room. Clerestory windows are best at the ceiling height because they bounce the light right off of your ceiling, illuminating your room. Or, install a solatube, which can tunnel light to where you need it if the only thing between you and the sun is your roof.

and at night…

Plug load of light bulbs reduce by 75% when switching to LED and CFL bulbs. CFL rebates are available as are recovery centers for all bulbs.

Installing occupancy light sensors may be the best option in commercial settings, when no one person in in charge of turning off, say, the conference room lights when not in use. Wattstopper has a power strip that senses people and turns plugs on just like light sensors do. See the strip here and others from Smart Home USA. Light Occupancy Sensor Resources are listed in the book: Evecto GreenGate Levitron Lutron Sensor Switch , or take a look at WattStopper’s Energy Saving Calculator.

Sometimes the easiest way to understanding consumption of energy is to determine what you use. Like eating less when you count calories, a Kill a Watt may be plugged in an outlet like a power strip, and will display the power usage that anything you plug into it may be pulling.

“You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even an entire year. Also check the quality of your power by monitoring Voltage, Line Frequency, and Power Factor. Now you´ll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money.” From P3 International.

Begin by analyzing your home room by room. Look at your dryer and think of how often you use it. Most of us spend 10% of our energy bills on the dryer. It could be a good time to visit the Urban Clothesline site.

Look at the setting in your refrigerator, or just keep all of your cold items in a tupperware bin outside through the winter. (I’ve really wanted to do this!) You should set your temperature between 35-38 degrees, and keep the freezer at 0. Green $ense referred to: Absocold   ConServ Equator MicroFridge    Summit Compact Refrgerators, Sun Frost as models to reference.

Dishwashers:  Ariston   Asko   Bosch   Danby   Miele

Oh, and lets not forget hot to get rid of old appliances… Energy Star Refrigerator Recycling program Recycle.. it’s the perfect ending.

I’ve recently gotten cash for my electronics through BoneYard.

Do you know that in Rhode Island several communities have adopted a Pay-As-You-Throw program to manage the excessive waste of trash? You have to pay for the bright orange trash bags for trash disposal. The program aims to reduce waste and increase recycling. It allows residents to gauge what comes in because of the price attached to what goes out.

Energy consumption in heating and cooling the places where we live and work is astronomical! Later, when a good building envelope is discussed, we can learn how to keep our inside air in places where it should be. But, as far as how to make a comfortable environment in the first place is another story.

During the summer, when most places are hot, our home attics are extremely warm.  If your house isn’t a passive house which would direct that hot air through natural ventilation, you may consider a few natural ways to let the hot air out by letting it rise. The book discusses solar powered attic fans by Sunrise Solar and I’ve seen them by SolaStar as well. A whole house fan is another option, and Green $ense offered one by Jet Fan USA.

A programmable thermostat is a great idea to consider. In Ohio right now Columbia gas is offering in home Audits for $50. With that a programmable thermostat is offered in the package. This allows you to have heat when you need it most. Not when you aren’t at home, and not when you are under the covers. If you are thinking about building a new home, imagine your house broken into temperature zones. Places where you have a lot of southern light will be warmer, and tend to need different air conditions than do the shady Northern facing rooms. A good architect 😉 can make sure your temperature zones are ducted to properly. See more at the future House Warming post.

The book discussed a fireplace heat exchanger upgrade or and EPA certified insert which I looked up on E How to try to understand a bit better. The idea is that you can insert a new energy-efficient unit into your existing hearth and allow the heat generated by the fire to help generate heat into your home through a blower door.

Inserts for wood-burning fireplaces improve the safety and efficiency of the unit. An insert is a metal firebox, often with a glass door for visible flames, which fits within the fireplace opening, allowing the smoke to be vented through the existing fireplace chimney.-E How

The next idea after lowering consumption is to consider creating your own power using the sun, a local stream, or passing wind.

The hubbub about Solar Panels: Think of them as an appliance you can move with you. the DSIRE is a great website source that offers the most up to date incentives for renewable energies.

Micro-hydropower uses a water to be a generator of energy.

Micro-hydro power systems use an intake box to divert water from the stream and prevent debris from flowing into the system. The water moves through a pipe that is connected to a turbine. The pressure of the water rushing through the turbine causes it to move, which generates electricity. Excess energy is then stored in batteries or diverted to a dump load. –Acreage Anywhere

You must contact several authorities before doing this, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (here), the Army Corps of Engineers, the local county engineers office,   and the system may cost between $5,000-20,000. But, before dismissing this all together, think about cost holistically. The cost of what you are paying your electric or gas company, the cost of what they are possibly doing to the air where they make your power, what is lost in translation, etc. Gauging all factors makes things a different story.

I’ve recently been introduced to the Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump by a friend who uses the system to create a warm room in his super-insulated home. It is a ductless system that runs coils through your walls to a wall or ceiling mounted unit that heats or cools your air for comfort.

How cool! or… warm?!

Come back Monday for the next series post!