Posted on: 29 September 2022
Replacing an old and failing heating system before the coldest weather arrives is often the best way to keep your family comfortable through the winter. However, choosing a new system to heat your home is a big decision and one you'll likely live with for many years into the future. It's easy to get caught up looking at the specs for heating systems, but specifications alone don't tell the whole story.
In many cases, the best heating system for your home will depend on numerous factors unique to your location, climate, and home. If you're upgrading or replacing your old system, consider these three critical local factors that can influence your new heater's efficiency, performance, and long-term costs.
1. Cold Season Length
Winter may technically be three calendar months long, but the actual cold season can vary substantially throughout the country. Some areas may only experience relatively brief periods of cold weather, while others get chilly early in fall and stay that way well into the winter. The average length of your cold season can help you determine the importance of heater efficiency, especially for gas furnaces.
If you have a relatively short cold season, spending more on a very high-efficiency unit may not make sense. Since you only use your heater a few months per year, you're unlikely to recover those cost savings. On the other hand, high-efficiency systems can save a substantial amount of money for areas with long winters where heating dominates yearly HVAC costs.
2. Average Low Temperatures
Another consideration is how cold it gets in your area. Oil and gas-fired systems are typically much more cost-effective than resistive electric heating in areas with frigid winters. While electric heaters are theoretically very efficient, electricity costs are typically higher than natural gas or heating oil prices. As a result, traditional electric furnaces are often more expensive to operate in cold areas.
However, heat pumps may be an alternative worth considering if you live in an area where a traditional electric furnace would be too expensive. Heat pumps provide greater than 100% efficiency, making them a potentially cheaper option than either gas or heating oil. On the other hand, heat pumps can't operate in extreme cold, so they may not be suitable for every climate.
3. Energy Availability
Finally, it's important to consider energy availability and costs in your area. Do you already have natural gas in your home? Is electricity particularly cheap or expensive in your area? These questions can help you determine the type of heater that will be most efficient as well as the most cost-effective fuel source.
For example, a high-efficiency gas furnace may pay off more quickly if your area's natural gas prices are relatively high. On the other hand, a standard efficiency model might make more sense if fuel prices are less of an ongoing concern.
Reach out to an HVAC contractor for more information.Share