How To Heat Your Building If You Can’t Use Natural Gas

The U.S. Energy Information Agency has reported that 43 percent of home energy usage goes to heating, and another eight percent to air conditioning. The least expensive energy source for heating is natural gas, which is plentiful in the United States.

However, some people in the ‘green’ movement believe we shouldn’t use natural gas as an energy source, because it’s carbon-based. (About 85 percent of the energy used in the world is carbon-based.)

If you’re forced by new ‘green’ regulations to abandon your natural gas heating systems, what are your alternatives?

Electric-resistive heat is most commonly known as baseboard heating. It is one of the least expensive heating systems to install, but it’s the most expensive to operate, because it’s not efficient. It produces only a 1:1 ratio between energy in and energy out. One advantage of electric baseboard heating is that each room can have its own thermostat, but that advantage is also true of “split” HVAC systems, which are more energy efficient.

Heat pumps
Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling. The most common heat pumps referred to as “split systems,” because the compressor and condensing unit is located outside of the building, and the fan and coil are located inside. The advantage of heat pumps is they are energy efficient. The disadvantage of heat pumps is that they’re expensive to install. Another disadvantage is that they become less efficient as the outside temperature gets hotter in summer and colder in winter.

Geothermal heat pumps
Geothermal heat pumps are my favorite. (Can you tell I like to build?) These units have the high efficiency of a heat pump, but because they use the ground as a “heat sink,” their efficiency persists regardless of outside temperature. Instead of transferring the heat to outside air, the heat is transferred into the ground via pipes installed in deep ground wells. The downside of geothermal heat pump systems? High cost of the pump system and of installing ground wells.

If you want more information on geothermal heat pump systems, please contact us.