~ How to efficiently heat your renovated Home ~
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
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.
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.
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!