Alternative Heating Systems in Your Home

You will already have a heating system in your home (80% of homes in Britain have central heating or storage radiators). Most of these systems have been designed to cope with the higher heating load of a badly draught-proofed and insulated house. Many of them have the capacity to heat the house on the coldest day of the year to 21 °C and it is arguable that this is necessary. Many heating systems work most efficiently when they are working at maximum load, which means that if the system is designed for the coldest day it will be working less efficiently on all the other days. This problem is being solved with the latest designs of boilers and their controls.

Since we are looking at the ecological upgrading of an existing system we need to review the situation with the assumption that you have draught-proofed and insulated your home to as high a standard as you can afford. The most ecological sources of energy have already been identified. The best system for your particular home will depend on the characteristics of the building and your lifestyle. The alternative systems to choose from are as follows:

o Full central heating
o Partial central heating
o Individual space heaters where required
o Reliance entirely on incidental sources of heat

There are various reasons why you may not require a full central heating system. Here are some of them:

o If your house is small, compact and well insulated
o If your house receives sufficient passive solar energy
o If your house has an Aga or equivalent range
o If your house has a large ceramic masonry heater
o If you intend to concentrate your activities in only one or two rooms
We shall start by looking at full central heating, and work back from there.

Full central heating
The vast majority of central heating systems use water as the medium to transport the heat from the central boiler to where it is required. There are many other types of central heating such as hot air systems, underfloor heating and steam systems. However I shall deal mainly with ‘wet systems’ as it is the system you are most likely to have.

A wet central heating system consists in most cases of the following parts:
o The boiler that burns the fuel and transfers the heat to water
o The pipework that transports the hot water usually with the help of a pump
o The radiators that transfer the heat from the water to its surroundings
o The controls to ensure that the right amount of heat is delivered to where required at the right time

If central heating is already installed, the first question to ask is whether or not it is the right size system. If you have improved the insulation as indicated then it is likely that the system will be oversized and the boiler size can be reduced when you next replace it. You may also want to reduce the size or number of the radiators if this will enable the more efficient use of any of your rooms.

If you don’t have central heating, you may well be considering whether it is right for you. You need to make a realistic assessment of the costs of your existing system. For example, you may have individual heaters using existing chimney flues which could be resulting in considerable heat loss. If you have a relatively large house and you need to keep the majority of it warm most of the time, it is probably sensible to go for a high-efficiency gas central heating system and for the smallest boiler size compatible with the insulation.

A partial central heating system
If however you have a medium-sized two-story well insulated house, it is certainly not essential to install full central heating in order to ensure an adequate distribution of heat. Evidence suggests that if the ground floor is kept warm through central heating, sufficient heat finds its way upstairs by natural air movement upwards, encouraged by the stack effect and conduction through the ground floor ceilings to provide an acceptable temperature in upstairs bedrooms.

Even if you have central heating, it is probably a good idea to place a heater with some radiant output in the main living room to allow a quick warm-up of the principal room. It is useful in autumn and spring to be able to warm one room without having the whole system running.

Individual space heaters and alternatives to central heating
There are many different types of unit space heaters. Some of the most efficient now are the gas wall heaters with balanced flues. There is also the possibility of an efficiently designed wood-burning stove, if you are willing to spend the time tending it to ensure that it burns correctly. Many people have been persuaded into heating their homes with electric storage heaters because of cheap rate tariffs-which bear very little relationship to the amount of C02 produced-and the cheaper initial cost of installation. However, heating your house wholly by electricity is not ecologically sound and should certainly be avoided. Electric heaters can be justified only if they are used sparingly as a top-up heater to be taken on occasion to anywhere in the house and used in a very localised way for a limited period of time. The most effective heaters for this purpose are the small fan heaters with built-in thermostatic control. However, think first of wearing more clothes!

Geothermal Heating Systems Cost

Throughout winter time, using heating units is crucial. It can certainly become extremely frigid during this season and your house needs its share of heat. Putting in windows with insulating material can help keep the warmth inside a household but still, more warmth is required. During this season, your home may have an increase in power expenses as a result of the power necessary to operate heating units. Thankfully, researchers have discovered a method to generate warmth naturally without the usage of power.

This natural heat source is actually referred to as geothermal heating systems. This heating system is powerful and can supply heat for an entire home or perhaps an entire building. Where does the heat originate from? It comes from the Earth. Most people are well-aware that underneath the Earth’s surface is captured heat. This heat is tested to be close to 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmth is preserved and renewable; therefore you don’t have to worry about acquiring a lot of heat from the Earth. As you can see, this is a very natural heat source; you do not have to use electricity, boilers or heating units.

Just how do geothermal heating systems work? There are 3 parts of the system including the ground loop system, heat pump as well as the furnace unit. 1st, the ground loop system or sometimes referred to as “closed loops” are set up beneath the building. It is a system of tubes that are filled with liquids like anti-freeze, water or refrigerant. This fluid travels down to the Earth’s source of heat and absorbs the warmth.

The 2nd portion of the geothermal heating systems is the heat pump. Experts use a heat pump to pump out the heat from the Earth; the pump is responsible for pulling up heat from the Earth’s heat source and letting the fluid in the pipes absorb the heat. This is actually the primary mechanism that enables the system to pump out heat.

The last element is the distribution system. Once the heat is soaked up and the liquid goes up the pipes, it’ll go directly to the furnace unit where the distribution system is. When the heat gets to the distribution system, the building or household can now get the heat it requires during the winter season.

The cycle proceeds like this-when the liquid element has released the heat, it goes back down to absorb heat again. This continuous cycle or process of geothermal heating systems provides a continuous heat flow in the building or household during cold seasons.

Apart from providing heat, the system can actually cool as well. The cycle will happen in reverse with the valves soaking up the heat from the home or building and pumping it out. The same liquid in the ground loop system will absorb the heat from the property or home and cycle it out. This system is beneficial during the summer months when people encounter extreme heat. Energy bills tend to increase due to the usage of electric fans and air-conditioning systems and cycling the heat away might mean financial savings on your part. In addition, you don’t really need to use power for the hot water heaters since you can tap into the kept heat in the tube’s liquid.

The main reason why geothermal heating systems are popular throughout the cold season is because they are cost-effective. You will be saving lots of money on electricity bills because your heat source is natural. It is said that making use of geothermal heating systems can save you up to 70% on your electricity bills. Moreover, this system also generates more heat without using energy compared to boilers and electric heaters.

Setting up a geothermal heating system doesn’t mean you won’t spend some money. This is an expense that will make you spend a big amount. You will have to install the ground loop system and heat pump and this cost about $2500. For a standard home, it will cost around $4000 for the entire system. The total amount looks pricey but geothermal heating systems lasts roughly 20-30 years. They are quite low in maintenance too. If you think about it, spending this much on something you will use for 20-30 years with 50-70% savings on electricity bills is a very reasonable trade-off.

Besides the energy bill savings you will get, the best thing about this system is that it is natural and renewable. You’re not releasing any harmful chemicals into the Earth’s atmosphere and you are not expending any energy at all. It is clean, safe and there’s a constant flow of it. Making use of geothermal heating systems is helpful for anyone living on Earth. Furthermore, this system has been proven to work and efficient in providing heat even in the harshest climates around the globe.