What’s the Most Eco-Friendly Way to Heat Your Home?

radiant heat system

No matter how much you strive to reduce your energy consumption to zero, you’ll probably end up needing to use some energy to heat your home. Energy usage usually comes with some environmental damage in one form or another. Nevertheless, you can greatly minimize these effects by being aware of the methods you use (and optimizing them for eco-friendliness).

So what is the most environmentally friendly way to heat your home?

Sources of Energy

First, you need to think about the source of the energy you’re using. These are some of the most common choices:

1. Electricity:

solar panel

Electricity is a broad category, and it can be used to produce heat in many different ways. A conventional home, for example, might get its energy from a power plant and use the electricity in combination with a forced air system to distribute heat throughout the house. Another home may use its own solar panels to generate electricity, using it to power a radiant heat system. The level of environmental friendliness of an electric-powered heating system depends on a multitude of factors, so it’s hard to categorize it in simple terms of environmentally “friendly” or “unfriendly.”

For example, some power plants rely heavily on the use of fossil fuels and non-sustainable methods of energy generation, which are harmful to the environment. Others lean more heavily on wind, hydroelectric, or even solar power. You also need to consider how much electricity your heating system is consuming, and how much heat you’re generating from it. 

2. Natural gas:

Other heating systems rely on natural gas, combusting the fuel as a means of generating heat. As the name suggests, natural gas is a fossil fuel, though there are renewable alternatives that can be used in its place. In general, natural gas can heat homes much faster and more efficiently than their electrical counterparts; accordingly, even though it’s a fossil fuel, it’s used in such small quantities that in many cases it has a smaller environmental impact than a comparable electric system. This also has the added bonus of producing smaller heating bills for homeowners. 

3. Wood burning stoves:

Wood burning stove

If you’re interested in an old-fashioned method of heating your home, or if you’re going for more ambiance, you could consider purchasing a wood burning stove or heater. The idea here is to burn wood as a way to distribute heat throughout your home. It’s not necessarily the most efficient heating method, but if you source your wood locally, the environmental impact is negligible; trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and release it upon burning, so they’re technically carbon neutral, so long as they haven’t been shipped long distances. 

Other Considering Factors

In addition to the source of fuel you’re using, you’ll need to consider many other peripheral factors. Most of these influences how much energy is required to heat your home:

1. Heating mechanism:

radiant heating systemsFirst, consider how the heat is being distributed throughout your home. Some systems require more energy than others to get the heat from one place to another, and some result in more heat loss. For example, radiant heating systems that allow heat to rise from the floors tend to be more efficient than comparable forced air systems, allowing you to use much less electricity for the same temperature increase.

2. Heating system age and condition:

Newer heating systems tend to be built with energy efficiency in mind; the older your system is, the less efficient it’s probably going to be. You can also improve your energy efficiency, and therefore your environmental friendliness, by keeping your system well-maintained. For example, you can switch out the filter on a regular basis and clean the ductwork occasionally in a forced air system to ensure your system can heat your home as efficiently as possible.

3. Temperature:

Beautiful woman wearing warm sweaterThe amount of fuel you use is directly linked to the temperature at which you keep your home. The warmer your home is, the more energy you’ll need to sustain that warmth. Accordingly, if you want your home to be eco-friendly, it’s a good idea to keep the temperature a few degrees colder than you ordinarily would, and make up the difference with blankets and sweaters.

4. Insulation and retention:

How much heat is your home retaining? The less efficient your home is, the more energy you’re going to use. Pay attention to the seals around your windows and doors, and replace old windows and doors that aren’t designed to maintain your temperature. The insulation in your walls also plays an important role here.

There are many simple steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your home, even if you don’t change the primary source of fuel you use. Think carefully about your choices next winter, and strive for an environmentally friendly setup.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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