Every home has two types of fundamental heating needs, hot water and central heating. There are a variety of appliances used to meet these needs including boilers, furnaces, hydronic systems, heat pumps and even wood burning stoves. Modern technology has provided for some amazing advances that have resulted in particularly efficient home heating systems.
Central Heating Systems
High efficiency heating systems with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) are common. It is simple common sense for a homeowner to investigate these heating systems when their current system is outdated or not functioning properly. For example, traditional, conventional furnaces built ten years ago have AFUEs of 55-65%. A modern, condensing heater using natural gas as the fuel, can easily reach 97% efficiency. Dramatic improvements like this example can pay for a new system in a few short years.
Hot water heaters come in two basic types, storage tank ones and tankless. “Tanked” systems store upwards of 80 gallons in a vessel that provides hot water when the tap is turned. They are powered by electricity, fossil fuels, geothermal and solar power sources. In general, they are dependable, affordable and relatively efficient. A major drawback to their efficiency is the loss of heat in the standing water in the tank which must be reheated when though the water is not being used.
Tankless heating systems avoid this drawback and are significantly more efficient as they do not have pilot lights or storage tanks. Hot water is created “on demand” and only the water being used is heated. Efficiencies on hot water systems range from 20% on traditional storage tank types to over 90% on some solar powered models.
In every case, the proper installation, maintenance and repair must be performed on these pieces of equipment. There is no faster way to reduce their efficiency and longevity than by allowing them to fall into disrepair and allow substandard maintenance to be performed. Check your system yourself or hire a professional HVAC contractor and get the most out of your heating appliances.