Consider these eco-efficient heating alternatives
You can probably already feel that chill in the air that reminds you of what is coming for most of us in the contiguous United States. November will give way to December, and autumn will give way to winter. That means it is time to break out the heavy coats and sweaters and to start budgeting in a little extra every month for heating costs. Depending on the ferocity of winter, those heating costs can reach unseemly heights, which is why it is important to consider alternative methods that will not only save you money in the long run, but that will ultimately be better for the environment.
Increase insulation and use recycled materials
If you have ever noticed a dramatic difference in temperature between one room and another in your home, you may need an extra layer of insulation in the walls. The process is not a particularly easy one, but the end result will see your energy usage decreasing by simply getting more out of what you use. When considering material for insulation, give special consideration to recycled denim; most brands contain as much as 80 percent post-consumer recycled material, meaning that you are helping reduce waste while reducing your energy bills.
Install a pellet stove
Pellet stoves are a great way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and save money on heating in the long run. The pellets used for these stoves are made of sawdust, switchgrass or wood chips, meaning that you’re using a renewable resource instead of oil. While pellet stoves can be somewhat expensive and pellets cost slightly more than natural wood for wood-burning stoves, they emit very little in the way of CO2 and are a significantly lesser fire risk.
Invest in solar energy
The cost of solar energy has been steadily decreasing, meaning that there has never been a better time to invest in a solar energy system for your home. While the up-front cost of installing solar panels can be in the low-to-mid five-figure range, it takes as little as 10 years to see a return on the investment, and it will also ultimately increase the resale value of your home. Active solar heating can provide for the vast majority of your home’s heating needs, and it’s a completely green method of doing so.
Consider geothermal heating
Geothermal heating obtains energy from the earth’s consistently warm temperature, requiring considerably less energy than an air-sourced HVAC system that has to reheat the cold air. This system also requires a hardy investment that is recouped within a decade of installation and adds to the resale value of your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, geothermal heat pumps run to a maximum efficiency level of 600 percent on cold winter nights, which compares favorably to the 250 percent max efficiency of air-source heat pumps. The life of these systems is estimated at about 25 years for the components inside your home and 50 years for ground loop components that gather heat from the earth.
Be smart with what you have
If it is too soon to consider replacing your HVAC system or re-insulating your home, make the most out of what you have. Install a programmable thermostat to adjust heat for the times where you are not home, which helps reduce the energy that would be consumed by simply turning off the heat and reheating the air at a later time. Roll up old bath towels and stuff them in front of your doors to close up drafts and lock in heat. If you have a small home, space heaters are simple and efficient ways to stay warm without being overly reliant on the thermostat, and bundling up in blankets and wearing warmer clothes around the house helps keep usage low.
There are a number of ways to save money and energy this winter, and the most effective methods largely depend on your needs. Assess your home heating situation before the season changes and make necessary adjustments for a warmer winter season.
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