Comparing the Costs of Using a Space Heater, Furnace and Central HeatingMarch 5th, 2010 by Staff Writer
Probably the best way to save money when it comes to using central heating is to make sure that you’re using energy wisely. This can be achieved in a number of ways. While central heating, such as a geo thermal heat pump, is less costly to operate than a forced-air furnace, it is more expensive than using, say, space heaters only in the rooms where you need heat. By learning how each system operates then, we can better understand how to supply heat to our homes more efficiently and at a reduced cost.
Gas and Oil Furnaces – Expensive to Operate
Forced air furnaces, fueled by oil or gas, are expensive to operate. Although they’re not as cost-efficient as central heating systems such as geo thermal heat pumps or central air heat pumps, newer models are designed to comply with efficiency standards based on the furnace’s annual fuel utilization efficiency or AFUE. The AFUE is a measurement that determines a furnace’s ability to use energy effectively. Condensing model furnaces are strongly recommended as their AFUE is typically 90% or higher, which means they can recapture some of the wasted heat lost in forced-air systems. Furnaces with fans that operate at variable speeds are also more electrically efficient than standardized motors and can save the consumer hundreds of dollars.
The Electric Furnace – Costly but Safe
Although an electric furnace is the most costly way to heat your home, it is also the safest. Where gas or oil furnaces can emit fumes, such as carbon monoxide, as well as present fire hazards, electric furnaces provide more safety in this regard. However, you can’t get around the fact they’re the most cost-prohibitive too.
Central Heating – The Advantages of Using a Geo Thermal System
Because underground temperatures are typically consistent, or warmer than the outside air temperature in the winter months, a ground source heat pump or geo thermal model is an efficient way to heat your home. This type of heat pump works by capturing the heat in the ground and distributing it throughout the home. Where a central air heat pump is better used in warmer climates, a geo thermal system can be used in cold as well as warmer climes. A central air heat pump works much like central air conditioning except it reverses the process in order to heat the home.
Space Heaters – Using Radiant Heat Wisely
While central heating is more efficient than a space heater when heating the same amount of space, space heaters work more effectively if they’re set up only in the rooms in your home that you regularly use. The radiant heat from a space heater makes you feel warmer in colder temperatures than other energy sources and therefore conveys heat better for a more satisfactory level of comfort.
Other Cost-effective Measures
Typically, for overall heating, central heating, such as a geo thermal heat pump, is the most affordable. The costs for any heating system though can be reduced by taking certain energy saving measures, such as installing weather-stripping around windows, setting the thermostat lower, sealing ducts and cleaning and replacing filters on a regular basis.
Just remember to stay focused on saving energy and you’ll save on your heating bills too.