Energy Efficient Heating Solutions for Your Living Space
Trying to stay warm is perpetually on the minds of New Englanders during the winter months (or at least those native to more southern states). However, climate change considerations and heating bills keep many of us from cranking up the thermostat. While the occasional jumping jacks in your apartment can help stave off the shivers, there are other options to maximize energy efficiency while keeping your home or apartment cozy when temperatures drop below freezing.
As a baseline, insulation is key. If you’re on the market for a new home, making initial investments in great insulation will save you money in the long term and protect you from volatile energy prices. Passive Houses (PHs) in Germany have been able to reduce energy usage to about one twentieth of similarly sized houses. See our previous guest blog post about PHs to learn more about the certification.
For the short-term apartment tenant, turn down the heat in your entire apartment and consider focusing that energy on the living spaces you actually use with a space heater. By choosing energy efficient space heaters you can lower your heating bills and feel warm and guilt-free without having to wear everything you own. Also, by only using the space heater for a couple of hours a day, you reduce the amount of time of active heating energy usage. Here are some energy efficient space heater options.
As for those who are homeowners, a more permanent and wise investment that has recently gained lots of traction in the HVAC community are ductless mini split systems!
What are they?
Ductless mini split systems consist of an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor air-handling unit. These two are connected by cables, which can pass through a small hole in your wall. The installation of this great retrofit add-on for your home is much less expensive and invasive than ductwork.
Ductless systems allow you to zone your home or apartment. Zoning means you can decide which rooms in the house you want to heat, while keeping sections of the home which are not in use at cooler temperatures. In addition, many systems are capable of heating and cooling, making them energy savers during the summer months as well. Depending on the size of your home, you can reduce your energy usage by 20-55%!
What are the pros and cons?
The look of the indoor unit might be undesirable for many homeowners since the unit needs to be in a centralized location in whichever room you are trying to heat. Also, the initial installation costs of some ductless mini splits can be high, yet your energy savings over time will pay back the difference. Many states have rebates or other financial incentives for ductless retrofits. You can search for your state’s incentives in the online database DSIRE.
Be sure to thoroughly research your installer and the company you purchase your ductless system from! An incorrectly installed system has the potential to waste energy and improperly control temperature and humidity. You can search for Energy Star certified ductless systems online at www.ceedirectory.org.
Not convinced yet? Watch this video from goingductless.com.