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What is the most energy-efficient way to heat your home?

Asked by Trulia Seattle, Seattle, WA Mon Apr 8, 2013

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Personally, I think the best energy-efficient way to heat your home is through Green / Eco-friendly sources. Here are a few ways that I help myself warm my home while I try to preserve our Planet.

Adjust your thermostat - The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by adjusting your thermostat back 10 or 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save 10% a year on heating and cooling bills!

Installing double-paned windows - Homes with old windows can be add up to an extra 25% of your heating bill. The Department of Energy has a list of models and brands of double-paned windows that have been given its Energy Star brand of approval.

Weatherize your home - Apply weatherstripping or caulk to drafty areas and cracks to keep the heat inside and the money in your pockets.

Use a space heater - If you’re only looking to heat one room, a space heater, which runs on electricity, can deliver warmth at a fraction of the cost of oil or gas.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 12, 2013
The best way to heat your home is to use as little fuel / energy as possible. So, you'd want to start with an efficiently designed home, emphasizing insulation and energy-saving features. Among the most common heat sources are oil, gas, and electricity. Oil is the most expensive. Gas costs less, but is subject to supply & demand fluctuations similar to oil. An electric-powered heat pump may be the most efficient source of heat, especially in Seattle where we enjoy some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. There is also passive solar and residential wind-generators to consider. For now, both solar and wind power are costly, and the payback takes many years. For most people, the simple answer is to compare gas heat and electric heat pumps for most residential applications.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
In Seattle I'd suggest a heat pump or mini-split system. Look for the highest SEER rating you can afford. This is a rating for measuring efficiency. Make sure the property is well insulated when it comes to insulation you either spend the money once or spend it forever in heating and cooling bills. Unless it's new construction there's limits to what a homeowner can do, but roofs are the most effective area to add additional insulation and even older homes can have additional insulation added in this area. Getting your duct work sealed is another way to increase efficiency as is using a programmable thermostat.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 3, 2014
Mini split is best in the Pacific NW, because electricity costs are low, and electricity comes from hydropower. Natural gas or propane fireplaces with b-vents are the best backup heating, and are pretty for use in the few hours in the winter evenings when you want to enjoy looking at the fire. Propane is a more expensive but better backup in case of a serious earthquake that breaks natural gas pipelines and takes down power poles.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 3, 2014
Again, this is such an opened non-specific question that could be answered so many ways. You really should quit wasting our time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 9, 2013
The most energy efficient means is a heat pump. They actually claim to be 200% or more efficient. Are they the least expensive, not necessarily. A heat pump exchanges "heat" from outside to inside. If there is no heat to exchange, at temperatures below 38 degrees, they then turn on a back up source which could be gas or electric.
If the back up system is electric, you would have 100% efficiency because all of the energy used to create heat would come into the house, but the cost of back up electric heat is 2-3 times that of a 90+ efficient gas furnace.
Gas as an energy source is less expensive, but some heat goes up the chimney. Gas furnaces are less expensive to purchase, probably by half or more of a comparable heat pump too, but a heat pump provides summer cooling.
So did you want the most efficient or least expensive?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
Much of this depends on your home and where it is located. I am currently ditching my old oil burning furnace and going through the Community Powerworks Program. I get rebates and low cost loans to not only put in an electric mini split heat pump, but they will give me a break on insulating my old home as well. I look at the whole picture not just the heat source, but keeping the heat in once it's there.

A short answer to your question would be smart design including placement on the lot, passive solar, attention to the building envelope and much more. As a retrofit I believe an electric heat pump in the way to go. That way you will be ahead of the game when renewable energy is more common. They have been in Asia and Europe for a long time. If you want to get more ideas I suggest you check out the NW Green Home Tour on April 27th in the Seattle Area. It's a free tour where you will get to see these concepts in person. Just look it up online.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
This question is under the green category. If you care about environmental issues the "greenest" solution is electric at this point. Better for indoor air quality (no ductwork or combustion) and no fracking involved. Hydro electric isn't a perfect solution yet either, but it appears decentralized electric power production is going to be more common in the near future.
Flag Mon Apr 8, 2013
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