Building a new home is one of the most wonderful experiences known to man. Although stressful at times most people beam with pride as they show their friends and acquaintances around the new place making sure to point out the changes they made to make the home better.
One of the best parts about new home building is getting to choose many of the inclusions such as windows, doors, interior d cor and other forms of customizing. However another way in which homeowners can benefit from building a new home is to provide a heating system that will save them money for many years to come.
Energy-Efficiency is the New Code
With energy costs on the rise again many prospective homebuilders are looking toward making the home as energy-efficient as possible. New building methods such as insulated concrete forms, structural insulated panels and thick foam insulation has made the newer homes almost impervious to changes in the temperature outside. However extremes in temperature will require that even the best-insulated homes will need to have a either a heating or air conditioning system, or both.
1. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps have been growing in popularity for the past thirty years. In essence they are operate like a refrigerator taking energy out of the air to provide either heat or cold, depending what is required. In most parts of the country heat pumps can be switched over depending on the season. For example, in the summer a heat pump can be used as an efficient air conditioning system, one that also can take the moisture from the air if required. In the winter the system becomes an efficient heater capable of providing heat down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Below that mark most models rely on a back-up system like gas or electric power.
Geothermal heat pumps are not constricted by changes in the weather because instead of taking heat and cold from the sir which is constantly changing in temperature the consistency of the below-ground temperature or water well is used. Both water and the ground can provide as much heat or cool air as is needed 365 days of the year.
Both types of heat pumps can drive either a forced-air system or a hydronic system.
2. Condensing Gas Furnaces
Natural gas used to be relative cheap, so much so that the old, inefficient furnaces were built the same way for decades. Today's gas furnaces are engineering marvels, heart sources that draw as much heat from a the fuel that is physically possible. In fact many models are up to 97% efficient.
The key to the success of the new gas furnaces is that there is a second heat exchanger above the first. As the burned gas cools it releases more heat into the second heat exchanger by condensing into liquid form, which is drained off. In this way more heat ends up in the plenum for distribution to the home and not up the chimney. Other innovations such as precision valves and electronic motors to run the blower fan reduce the overall energy consumption. Condensing gas furnaces can also be used as efficient boilers for in-floor heating systems.
3. Solar Hot Water and Air Heating
In colder areas of the "Lower 48" the sun is still very strong for a few hours a day. In fact two hours of direct sunlight can provide enough energy to heat a home through hot water and even hot air. Vacuum tubes in an array on the roof magnify the sun's energy and transfers it to glycol. This heated coolant is then pumped into a storage tank for dispersal throughout the home. Sometimes it is used to pre-heat hot water tanks.
Hot air systems are becoming more prevalent as well. In fact, southward facing solar rooms capture the heat in ceramic tiles and a fan disperses the heat throughout the home. Heat can be stored in the ceramic for hours.
4. Off-Peak Electric Thermal Storage
In most states the power companies offer programs to sell surplus power to its customers at drastically-reduced prices. However, the excess power is usually available during the hours of 11pm and 7am and weekends. This works well for washing clothes or setting the timer for the dishwasher for 1:00am. But how does this help home heat? The hot water tank can be set to shut off during prime time and the occupants can still shower with hot water.
ETS (Electric Thermal Storage) units are cabinets loaded with ceramic bricks. Also included are heating coils that surround the bricks. A microprocessor switches on the electricity during the times when power is cheap then shuts the unit off during peak times. During the time of high prices for electricity a small fan circulates the stored heat from the ceramic bricks throughout the home. ETS heating can also be utilized in a central heating capacity just like a standard electric furnace.
For more information on replacing or upgrading your present gas furnace into a condensing gas furnace consult our Contractor Directory for a heating contractor or simply post your project online.Posted by: kim