Does your electric bill skyrocket every winter? Are you looking for a way to decrease your household's dependence on electricity? If you experience long, harsh winters, finding a way to cut your electric heating bill could make a real difference in your budget. Not to mention the fact that an alternative form of heat can help keep you and your family warm and safe if the power goes out during a storm. Take a look at some alternative heating options that can provide supplemental heat for your home and reduce those out of control electric bills.
Solar Heating System
Of all of the possible home heating alternatives, solar is probably the one that will save you the most money in the long run. That's because once you make the initial investment, you're done paying for it. The only "fuel" you need to power a solar heating system is the sun, which doesn't cost you a dime.
Solar heating systems work by heating either liquid or air and then storing it or transferring it into the home for immediate use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, active solar heating systems usually provide between 40% and 80% of the home's heating needs. Can you imagine the difference in your electric bill if 40% to 80% of your heat was coming from some other source?
The drawback to solar is that the initial investment can be expensive, so a solar heating system may be out of reach if you're strapped for cash. Also, in rare cases, your home simply may not be equipped for a solar heating system. For example, if your roof is already unusually heavy, your home may not be able to handle the added load of a rooftop solar system. In that case, you'll need to look for another supplemental heat alternative.
A fireplace is another fairly simple way of supplementing your home's existing heat. A wood-burning fireplace is a good choice for a wide variety of homeowners, because most people have local access to an inexpensive source for wood. And if you live in a rural area, you may even be able to cut your own wood for free.
You may need more than one fireplace to heat a large house. However, this gives you the opportunity to use a zoned heating system, meaning that you only heat the areas of the home you're actually using. You won't burn fuel to heat the bedroom when you're downstairs in the living room or kitchen all day, right? This zoned approach is a more efficient and sustainable way of heating your home than a central heating system. Fireplaces also add to the ambiance of your home, creating a cozy, homey, or romantic atmosphere. That's a benefit that you definitely won't get from your central heater.
The downside is that, while a fireplace can be added to almost any home, it may take some major modifications to your home to fit the fireplace in. You need experienced HVAC technicians to do the installation, and you'll need to add a chimney to your home if you don't already have one. If you prefer something that can be moved into your home with minimal changes to your home, there's one other option that you should consider.
Pellet stoves are similar to wood-burning stoves, but they're more efficient. Pellet stoves run on waste wood, sawdust shavings, and other material that are compressed into compact, clean-burning pellets. Unlike the fireplace, a pellet stove doesn't require a large chimney, just a fresh-air vent and an exhaust vent.
Pellet stoves are heavy, but small enough to easily fit into any home. You'll just need to install a fire-resistant hearth for the stove to sit on. These stoves come with a powerful blower, and can easily provide a lot of heat for your home. They're also easy to clean, and when the pellets burn, they produce little ash.
Before you purchase a pellet stove, you first need to check out local sources for pellets. You will go through two or three tons of pellets in a heating season, and whether or not a pellet stove will save you money depends on whether you have an affordable local source for them, or whether you have to have them shipped in, which will add to your costs.
A heating contractor can help answer your questions about alternative heat sources, and give you suggestions based on your home's specific heating needs. If you're looking for a supplementary heat source this winter, click here to schedule an appointment with a local heating contractor for an evaluation.