Whether you have a boiler, a furnace, a pellet stove, or a wood-burning fireplace, chances are good that you have at least one method of home heating, and probably even multiple options. But most of the standard means of keeping your home warm during the cold winter season are probably not very eco-friendly. Many rely on the use of natural resources to heat your interior, and most produce pollution in the process. If you’re on the lookout for methods of keeping your home warm and cozy without exponentially increasing your carbon debt, though, there are a few options that are sure to be better for the environment, and potentially save you some money on your utility bills, as well.
One option you might want to consider is installing radiant floor heating throughout your home. While it is true that you’ll either have to do this with electric or plumbing components, meaning that you’ll still be using energy or gas for home heating, most likely, you might be surprised to learn that you can actually practice conservation and save some money by using radiant heating instead of forced air. The reason is that air cools quickly, which means your furnace is going to kick on frequently in order to heat the air. And while radiators stay warm longer thanks to metal components that continue to radiate heat (hence the name), many are located near windows, where they are sure to cool more quickly, requiring further hot water.
With radiant floor heating, on the other hand, the heat is distributed evenly throughout the room, the flooring, often stone, holds the heat, and the heat rises, keeping every room warmer longer. Plus, the heat can often be adjusted on a room-by-room basis so that you’re not paying to heat rooms that no one is using. If you don’t want to tear up the floors, though, you could get some of the same benefits by using ductless heating units. You’ll have to figure out how many units you need and assess the correct sizing for ductless systems before you can determine whether or not they’ll work for you, but they can heat on a room-by-room basis, potentially reducing your demand and your heating costs by a significant margin.
There are options that are even more eco-friendly. For example, you might consider heating your home via alternative energy. If you live in an area that enjoys abundant sunlight, water, or wind you can find ways to use it to your advantage during the winter. Of course, sunlight may be out if your area is beset by cloud cover and storms for most of the winter, but the good news is that winter storms bring plenty of water and wind. Installing these options is not necessarily going to be cheap, though, and you will have to rely on the whim of the weather for your power, meaning you could still end up drawing energy from the grid or using gas or other means for heating.
Another option that may be more appealing is geothermal heating or a geo-exchange. Although very similar, these two options differ slightly in that the former draws water from an underground source and the later simply draws up air from underground. The end result is the same, however, in that the temperature underground is relatively constant, ranging from about 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you live. When you consider heating from an underground temperature of 45 degrees as opposed to the above-ground temperature of, say, 5 degrees, you can see that you’ll use a lot less energy heating the underground air or water to your desired setting during the winter, helping you to do your part for the environment.