Even in mild metro Vancouver, furnaces, fireplaces and other heating systems represent over 60% of residential energy use. With so much at stake, it’s important to carefully consider your options before settling on a heating method for your home. Here’s an overview of the most common ways to warm up your interior and what to look for to make the right choice.
What to Consider
To be able to accurately compare the different heating options available for your home, make sure you understand how each method performs in terms of:
- Cost-effectiveness. Make sure to factor in the cost of installation and fuel as well as how it will affect your energy bills.
- Heating efficiency. Will it provide enough heat for your entire home? How quickly can it heat up a space?
- Maintenance. Is there any special upkeep to be performed? Do you need a service contract with a specialized contractor?
There’s nothing cozier than curling up near the flickering glow of a fireplace on a blustery day. If you’re in the market for a space heating solution that doubles as a design feature, this is likely your best bet. All that’s left is to pick a fuel for the flames:
· Wood-burning fireplaces are inarguably charming and great for heating smaller spaces and open floor plans, but they have some definite drawbacks. For instance, they tend to create drafts and make indoor air uncomfortably dry. Additionally, certain local jurisdictions prohibit or limit the use of the less efficient models. Make sure you spec a unit that conforms to local codes.
· Gas fireplaces rely on natural gas or propane to produce heat. Many models have a blower to push warm air into the room and thermostatic remote start capabilities, making them more efficient than their wood-burning counterparts, and far easier to use.
· Electrical fireplaces are efficient and eco-friendly and can be installed almost anywhere. They require little to no maintenance, save perhaps the occasional vent dusting. In general though, they do not produce the same amount of heat and gas or wood burning ones.
The furnace is the most common heating solution, with an estimated two-thirds of Canadian households relying on one type of furnace or another as a primary heat source. Furnaces can be powered by natural gas, fuel and electricity, with natural gas being the most widely used. They heat the home by forcing warm air through a system of ducts. This is the most energy efficient option, but installing a furnace in an existing home may necessitate modifications to the venting system in place.
While furnaces use warm air to heat your home, boilers use hot water. This creates a much less drafty environment and has the added benefit of the ability to ‘zone’ heat rather than heating an entire home. In addition to heating, boilers may also provide a supply of hot water to the home.