If you’re a new homeowner in the Iron Station, North Carolina area, you know you need to be prepared to keep your home cozy and warm during the cold season. That means choosing a heating system that suits your home, your needs, and your budget. Here are some things to consider when picking the best heating system for your new home.
Select Your Heating System Type
There are many types of heating systems on the market today, making it difficult to identify the one that will work best for you and your home. Choosing from a large array of heating systems can be intimidating for a new homeowner. When picking a type of system, you need to consider the size of your home, determine your ideal indoor winter temperature, and decide what type of fuel will power your heating system. But first, you should be familiar with the basic types of heating systems.
Modern furnaces are typically fueled by either natural gas or oil. Natural gas furnaces are linked to a local distribution system, while oil furnaces are typically fueled from a tank installed outside your house. Natural gas is a more efficient fuel than oil and depending where you live, one or both types of fuel may be available.
Furnaces that heat medium to large homes are typically floor models, which usually reside in the basement. Small homes, apartments, or condominiums may use a slim, wall-mounted furnace rather than a large floor model.
According to Citizens Energy Group, the most common type of furnace is a central forced-air furnace. This type works by heating air that is then circulated through your home via ductwork using a fan or blower. A central gravity furnace is similar in that it heats air, but rather that being circulated with a fan or blower the air rises up through your home.
Another type of heating system besides a furnace is a heat pump, which can be used to both heat and cool a room. Powered by electricity, a unit consists of two parts: an outdoor device and an indoor device that is usually mounted on the wall near the ceiling. Variable angled fins on the indoor device direct warm (or cool) air into the room. Heat pumps are very efficient; however, in temperatures below freezing, they don’t deliver as much heat as a furnace. Heat pumps can be fitted with a supplemental heating strip to keep a home comfortable during the coldest winter days (as is often the case in North Carolina).
Size Your Heating System for Your Home
A heating system is sized for the particular area it will be heating. A heating contractor can evaluate your home and perform a load calculation to determine the size of heating system needed. To do this, your contractor will examine several aspects of your home.
First, your home’s heat loss is estimated by taking into consideration the areas that come in contact with outside temperatures, such as the walls, windows, and roof. Then, using typical winter temperatures and your target winter indoor temperature, the contractor determines how much heat your system needs to produce during the coldest days to keep you comfortable.
A correctly sized heating system will slightly exceed your heating requirement, so you can be confident you’ll be warm even on the coldest days. A heating system that is too small won’t be able to keep you warm, while a system that is too big will operate inefficiently. If it’s the right size, your heating system will not exceed your heating requirements by more than 25 percent.
It’s not uncommon for a heating system in an older home to be incorrectly sized. If you’re considering replacing a heating system already installed in your home, it’s important to have a heating contractor complete a home assessment rather than simply replacing it with an identically sized unit.
An efficient heating system affects your bank account with electricity or fuel costs during the winter months, and also the resale value of your home down the road.
Energy-efficient models can cost more initially but pay you back with energy savings every winter. For some, reducing reliance on fossil fuels is enough to drive the decision to purchase an energy-efficient model. When considering your budget, calculate the payback period (how long it will take for energy savings to pay off) for an energy-efficient unit before making a final purchase decision.
Efficiency ratings for furnaces are measured in terms of Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. This rating is a measure of the amount of energy that it takes to power the furnace, measured against the amount of energy it produces as heat. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. A unit with an AFUE rating of 85 means only 15 percent of the heat produced goes to waste.
Older furnaces may have an AFUE as low as 56. New, high-efficiency furnaces start at an AFUE rating of 90, and those above 90 are usually Energy Star certified.
Heat pumps are powered by electricity rather than fuel, and AFUE doesn’t apply. Their efficiency is measured in other ways. First, the SEER number, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, rates the unit’s cooling power. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the cooling power of the unit. The second efficiency measure is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF, which measures the unit’s heating efficiency. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heating power of the unit.
Budget for the Life of Your Heating System
The total cost of your heating system doesn’t just refer to the purchase and installation, but to the operation of the unit over its life, including monthly heating expenses during the colder months.
If you’ve calculated your payback period and you’re not planning to stay in your home long enough to realize the energy savings from an efficient unit, you may be tempted to choose a more conventional model. However, don’t forget to take into account an energy-efficient unit can raise the value of your home and make it attractive to potential buyers.
Before you purchase a heating system for your new home, consider incentives offered by installation companies and the different types of savings that they offer. Some may have incentives such as purchase discounts or deals on extended warranties. Shop around to make sure that you’re getting the most value for your money.
Choose the Right Contractor
Just as important as your heating system, is your heating installation contractor. It’s important to choose a professional contractor with experience installing your selected heating system. Be sure your contractor is qualified and properly licensed.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask friends, family, or other homeowners for recommendations. Find out about personal experiences with a particular contractor, what they were like to work with, and if they met expectations. Read testimonials and online reviews from the contractor’s clients, and if you’re not sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Price shouldn’t be your only consideration when it comes to a heating installation contractor. Saving money up front could mean a shoddy installation, which can cost you more money to repair in years to come.
When you’ve chosen your heating installation contractor, make sure you get written estimates for all the necessary work, including both labor and materials. Read the paperwork and warranties that come with the equipment you’ve chosen, and become familiar with what your agreement covers and what it doesn’t.
Once your system is installed, a responsible contractor will explain how to use the system and give recommendations for safe use and maintenance.
The best heating system for your new home should keep you warm all winter long, without compromising efficiency. A qualified heating system contractor will be able to perform an assessment of your new home, and it will come complete with load calculations. Using those calculations, we’ll be able to recommend the correct size and type of heating system.
Get started on your heating assessment today, call Ross & Witmer at 704-392-6188, or visit our website to learn more about our heating systems and maintenance packages.