Energy Efficiency Home Heating Systems

water heater

A leading contributor to energy consumption is our dependency on heating and cooling systems. Obviously these systems are necessary for our survival so they cannot be eliminated, but we can do our best to replace wasteful systems with energy efficient ones instead!

Thanks to ENERGY STAR, making environmentally conscious choices regarding efficient heating systems is much easier! Heating systems today are becoming much more effective, reducing energy loss and in doing so conserving our natural resources while reducing toxic emissions. Properly installed ENERGY STAR heating equipment can help you save approximately 15% on your heating bills!

Now you can include efficient home heating systems in your green design!

ENERGY STAR and Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)

When choosing to make your home heating system more efficient be sure to choose a system that has been approved by ENERGY STAR and/or the AFUE.

ENERGY STAR is an internationally recognized symbol for products that meet the required environmental guidelines ensuring the most energy efficient products in this field.

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is a system designed to analyze the extent of heat loss, and measure the efficiency of a furnace once it has reached a steady and peak operating temperature. This is an important consideration as it determines the actual effectiveness of the furnace all year round. The AFUE factors in both heat loss and efficiency to determine their rating.

Types of Home Heating Systems

When choosing the right heating system for your home be sure to do your research and hire a professional to guide you in picking the most efficient system for the size and build of your home. When it comes to home heating systems there are a variety of choices. However some heating systems are much more efficient than others!

Gas/Propane-fired Forced-air Furnaces

These are the most efficient systems available today. New technology in forced-air furnaces have helped to increase their energy efficiency by 38% as in the past they were major contributors to heat loss! Older forced-air heating systems are known to be up to 60% inefficient! Newer forced-air systems can be implemented over your existing furnace and can also use the same ducting.

When choosing to replace your system for a Gas/Propane forced-air Furnace look for a product with a (AFUE) rating of 90% - 97%!

Residential Boilers

In order for residential boilers to qualify for an ENERGY STAR product they must have an AFUE rating of 85% or more. Boilers are typically more inefficient due to their heat loss and the use of continuous pilots. Newer versions of residential boilers have eliminated the need for a continuous pilot, increased their insulation to protect against heat loss and have also been designed for better draft protection.

Combination Heating Systems

This type of heating system is more common in rural settings. They can be a combination of wood and electricity, oil and electricity, electric hydronic and space and water heating systems.

In general these systems are not very efficient although there are ways to improve them. Visit Natural Resources Canada for more information on Combination Heating Systems

If you live in the U.S. and would like to know more about the standards set for residential furnaces and boilers please visit the U.S. Department of Energy

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have been used around the world for a very long time and are most commonly found in our air conditioners and refrigerators.

Heat pumps are actually a very efficient way to heat your home. They work by using an electrical device to extract air out of one space and transfer it to another space.

There are two types of heat pumps; Split and Single package. They are measured differently by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).

For a split heat pump to qualify they must have a SEER rating of less than 14.5 and an EER rating of less than 12.0. For a single package to qualify they must have a SEER rating less than 14.0 and an EER rating less than 11.0

Electric Room Heaters

As to be expected, electric heaters are the worst offenders when it comes to energy efficiency. They are a very cost effective solution for most home owners and are therefore still used today in many homes around the world. They are particularly bad because they are often installed under windows, an ideal place to promote heat loss.

Electric heaters do not force hot air into the room and rely on the air within the home to do its work for it, therefore warm air is not distributed evenly around the home.

If you still use electric heating for your home it would be wise to do an evaluation of your operating costs each year and truly find out how much electric heating is costing you family and the environment!

Domestic Water Heating

Water heaters are the second biggest offender in energy efficiency. If water heating is your choice for home heating, be sure to do what you can to help reduce your energy and water waste. Choose the most efficient water heating system, install water saving devices and reduce your water usage where ever possible.

There are two types of water heaters, gas and oil water heaters and electric water heaters. When investigating your water heaters there are a few ways to help reduce your energy consumption.

When buying a gas or oil water heater look for the highest energy factor (EF) number you can. The higher the number the more efficient the system is.

When buying an electric water heater look for a low standby loss number. This represents the amount of heat lost in the production. A lower number the better the product.

Energy Efficient Gas Fireplaces

Installing a good quality energy efficient gas fireplace to supplement conventional heating is another option for a green home. They can help to reduce energy costs as long as you purchase the right product.

Gas fireplaces are unfortunately rated by three different systems in Canada which can mislead you into making a poor decision. Where gas fireplaces are concerned the most effective rating system to look for when purchasing a gas fireplace in Canada is the fireplace efficiency (FE) standard. The higher the percentage of FE the better the product. Aim for something around 70%.

There are many types of gas fireplaces and all have different advantages and disadvantages. For more information about these fireplaces in Canada visit Natural Resources Canada.

In the United States, more information on fireplaces can be found at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A very helpful tool in deciding which product is more efficient please visit the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association and use their fuel efficiency calculator!

Radiant Floor Heating

One of the more popular flooring design options today is to include radiant floor heating. The jury is out on radiant floor heating as the majority feel that it is an excellent energy efficient source where others disagree.

Radiant floor heating essentially turns your floor into a radiator. Warm water, air or electricity flows through plastic tubing that is attached to the underside of your sub floor. A layer of concrete is poured onto the sub floor to collect and radiate the heat up into your living space above.

The problem with radiant floor heating is that the home needs to be well insulated including the floor as much heat can be lost through the bottom of the floor if it does not have the necessary insulation. Installing such a floor is also very expensive and is not suitable for most budgets.

In its defense, many believe that radiant floor heating is very beneficial for those who suffer from allergies. Some feel that forced-air furnaces blow allergens around all day where as radiant heating does not.

Electric under floor heating - Find detailed information on floor central heating at, a leading UK supplier of under floor heating. For more details about the benefits and challenges of radiant floor heating please visit Oregon Department of Energy to view an excellent report on the subject.

Geothermal Heating

Another incredibly green heating option for the home is geothermal heating. This heating system uses the consistent underground temperatures to displace warm or cold air into or out of the home depending on the seasonal temperatures.

By installing a geothermal system underground, the warmer air in the winter is pumped via a heat pump into the home to warm the internal air, where as in the summer the cool air beneath the ground is pumped into the home to cool the internal air of the home.

For more information visit our page on Geothermal Energy

Thesexygreenhome Opinion

Clearly when it comes to heating systems there are many to choose from. We think that it is most important to get a proper eco-evaluation done of your home first before deciding and purchasing any type of heating system. There is no point in investing your money on a system that will not work efficiently because of other areas in your home that are also not up to efficient standards. Fix the small problems first and then decide on the most efficient heating system for your home.

"Energy savings at home pleases both the environment and the pocket book. With these energy saving tips and ideas, homeowners and renters alike can meet their conservation and savings goals without sacrificing their comfort"

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