Should you replace your heating system, and if so, with what?

Should you replace your heating system, and if so, with what?We’re fast approaching heating season. If you have an older heating system, chances are pretty good that it’s inefficient. Depending upon how old your heating system is, it may not be more than 30%-40% efficient. For these systems, that means 60% or 70% of the fuel input gets “lost ” on its way to heating your home.

Another way to put it is that for every $100 you spend on operating these systems, $60-$70 is wasted. That’s hard to accept, isn’t it? If this is your system, it means one of two things: either you could be a whole lot warmer during the winter, or you are burning a lot of cash to stay warm.

You wouldn’t pay $100 at the gas station for $30 worth of gas. It doesn’t make sense to spend $100 on heating for $30 worth of heat, either. High efficiency heating equipment can shift your efficiency rating from less than 40% to 80%, 90% or even 95%. That means that up to 95% of what you’re spending gets returned to your house in the form of heat. You’ll spend much less to stay warm this winter if you install a new, high-efficiency heating system.

If you’re planning to replace your old heating system, a high-efficiency system should be a must-have on your list. While the cost of a high-efficiency system may be greater than a less efficient model, it will also cost less to operate year after year. The small margin you pay up front can produce thousands of dollars in savings over the lifetime of the equipment.

You should also think carefully about the fuel that operates your heating system. Today, most homes in Massachusetts use either natural gas, fuel oil or electricity. About 6% of Massachusetts homes use propane, wood, solar or some other fuel type. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages.

Electricity is the least popular way to heat a home because traditional electric heat systems can be expensive. One excellent way to save money on electric heat is to consider adding an air-source heat pump. An air-source heat pump can provide standalone heat efficiently. You can also use an air-source heat pump to provide supplemental heat (and cooling) to your home without switching away from your primary heating system.

Today, nearly 30% of Massachusetts homes use heating oil as a primary fuel source. Heating oil can pose environmental challenges that other fuel systems don’t. Heating oil is a commodity, so consumers are subject to the “spot price” of heating oil at the time of purchase. Buying heating oil off season is one way to save money, but if you run out of heating oil mid-winter and need to refill, you can end up paying a significant premium for heat. Many people who use heating oil are considering converting from heating oil to natural gas. The price stability of natural gas is the primary reason. Efficiency and environmental concerns are other primary motivators for making the switch.

Just over half of the homes in Massachusetts use natural gas to heat their homes. Natural gas is delivered to the home “on-demand” from a utility company. The price of natural gas has been relatively stable over time, and burning natural gas for heat reduces the impact of heating on the environment.

However you choose to heat your home, switching to the most efficient equipment on the market today will help recover the cost of your investment, and reduce your energy consumption for years to come.

If you’d like more information about high efficiency options for heating your home, please gives us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911 to set up a consultation.

Photo Credit: Alex Gorzen, via Flickr