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Heating and Cooling

Traditional Heating and Cooling Methods

  • Gas Boilers

    New high efficiency gas boilers can save a lot of energy if you have an energy efficient home. However, your home must be heavily insulated and airtight to apply this technology successfully. Condensing boiling saves energy by circulating lower-temperature water than conventional boilers. To use your existing radiators effectively, you must usually wrap the home in two or more inches of foam and have very efficient windows.

  • Furnaces

    Before replacing an under performing furnace, there are many things you can check out to get it back on track. For example, when was the last time the furnace filter was changed. Here are some guidelines to helping you understand how your gas powered furnace works and how you can make it provide heat more efficiently.

    If you are due for a furnace replacement, you can reduce the size of the furnace by adding extra insulation to your walls and attic. You can increase the R-value of your home to the point where only a small space heater is needed throughout the winter months.

  • Electric Furnace

    Although electric heaters are the most efficient they are also the most expensive to operate. They should only be used where there is absolutely no other choice or in climates where they are rarely required. An electric heater operates like an electric stove. You turn the burner on and the circular metal burner glows red. The burner is basically a low resistance piece of metal that allows high current of electricity to pass through and it dissipates the heat.

    The most popular form factor for electric heaters are space heaters.These types of heaters are designed to heat one room, rather than the whole house. They come in several different styles. Some have large radiant dishes with an electric coiled burner in the middle. Some use oil filled column radiators. And, still others use fans in a box.

    An electric furnace is designed to heat the whole house centrally, just like its gas or oil fueled counterpart. However, you wouldn't see one of these used in a temperate climate, but the best application would be in a climate where the winters are warm most nights, so the furnace would only be used in a rare instant.

  • Space and Floor Heaters

    You see these a lot in California and other warm climates. They typically use natural gas and are locally attached to a wall (in the case of space heaters) or where a wall and floor meet in an open area in the house (in the case of a floor heater. They typically radiate heat by convection rather than a blower. So the closer you get to the heater, the warmer it is. This can be smoothed by adding more insulation to the home. In most cases they are more efficient than central heaters because there are no ducts to loose heat.

    Gas Space Heater Mounted on Wall
    Gas Space Heater Mounted to be on Wall

  • Air Conditioners

    Traditional air conditioners are some of the most high electricity use appliances in the home because of the way they need to exhaust heat by changing substances from liquid to gas and reverse. We've devoted an entire section to them as well as alternative cooling methods.
  • Fans

    Fans are a very localised cooling device. They are much lower energy users than air conditioners and are a great supplement to home cooling. However, you must remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room. Motion sensors or timers can be used for this.

Inefficiencies and environmental Costs of Traditional Heating and Cooling

  • Uses Fossil Fuels

    All of our heating and cooling devices for use in homes for the past century are powered by some form of fossil fuels. Air conditioners use electricity which is mostly generated by either coal or natural gas. Although some portions of the electrical source may come from water flowing over dams. These fossil fuel sources are usually drilled and transported over long distances, which also uses fossil fuels. The point is that we are a very energy incentive society that uses the atmosphere as the dumping ground for our productive activity. The more we produce, expand, and grow, the more carbon is placed into the atmosphere.

Alternative Environmentally Friendly Methods of Heating and Cooling

  • Geo Thermal Heating and Cooling

    Geothermal technology basically uses the ground around your house as a radiator for cooling and heating. The ground beneath the surface of the earth stays at a constant temperature of about 55 degrees F. (13 C) year around. Using some kind of liquid, you can pull heat out of the ground through poly tubing and heat your house as well as your water during the winter. In the summer, you pump heat from your house into the ground to cool the house down. These are very cost effective since since the only parts requiring power are an electric pump and the computerised system controls.
  • Ductless Heating and Cooling

    These systems, also called mini-split-system heat pumps, work by having an indoor unit coupled with an outdoor unit. The outdoor unit does the compressing of refrigerant.

    The indoor unit collects moist warm air from indoors and sends it outside. The outdoor unti is the workhorse and makes the most noise. The indoor unit is very quiet. In terms of efficiency, these types of coolers can save as much as 30% over central air conditioning systems by not using ducts.

  • Passive Heating and Cooling

    This type of temperature control is a home design technique where the home takes advantage of it's environment. By building or selecting a home with the broad side and largest windows oriented towards the equator, you maximize solar gain throughout the house during the winter.

    During the summer, an overhang on the equator side, prevents direct sun light into the house. If you are in a hot climate, you can bury a large diameter tube two meters into the ground around your house to pipe in cool air from the earth into your living space. You can open vents in your ceiling and use the hot raising air to draw the cool air out of the conduit.

  • Solar Air Conditioner Cooling and Heating

    This method is a very energy efficient temperature control that uses the sun's rays and water. Water is circulated through a solar collector. The heated water then drives endothermic conversion cycles that generate chilled water. The chilled water is then circulated to cool the building in warm weather. Likewise, hot water from the conversion can be used to heat the house in cold weather.
  • Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

    Hydronic radiant floor heating systems use a boiler to heat up hot water and a pump to circulate the hot water in plastic pipes installed in a concrete slab. The pipes, embedded in the floor, carry heated water that conduct warmth to the surface of the floor where it broadcasts energy to your the room.

    hydronic radiant floor heating
    Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

    Separated radiant heat zones are controlled by one thermostat and served by a manifold which distributes the flow of warm water to the individual circuits of tubing within each zone.

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