Space heating is a significant energy user in most households. Although it varies by region, heating accounts for more than 30% in a typical U.S. home, according to the Department of Energy. Every autumn, homeowners across the country wonder whether it is time to replace their old heating unit. After all, a new heating system offers increased efficiency and performance; saving money on winter heating costs and improving home comfort.
A new heating system is a substantial investment however, and requires careful consideration. Certain telltale signs indicate that it may be time to replace your current unit, including the following:
Once you have made the decision to invest in a new heating system, there are number of things to consider, including finding the right contractor, choosing the right system (for example, a furnace or heat pump), and properly sizing your system for maximum performance and efficiency.
Commonly used whole-house heating systems include furnaces and heat pumps, as well as radiant heating and electric baseboard heating.
Which type of heating system is most effective for your home? The answer could depend on a number of factors, such as the local climate, and the size and age of your home. The Heating System Comparison Calculator can help you estimate the cost of operating different heating systems in your area.
When selecting a heating system, look for the EnergyGuide label. This label is required on all furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps by the Federal Trade Commission and provides estimates of annual energy use and cost. When you purchase a new heating system, make sure it is ENERGY STAR qualified. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that tests and certifies energy-efficient equipment.
While efficiency is important, correctly sizing and installing your new system is critical to optimal performance. Ask friends or neighbors for contractor referrals and make sure that contractors are appropriately licensed and insured. Ask for customer references and call those individuals. Work with your contractor to make sure that you find the right system to meet your needs.