Home Heating Systems

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Household Heating Systems: Although several different types of fuels are available to heat our homes, nearly half of us use natural gas. | Source: Buildings Energy Data Book 2011

Heating your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home -- typically making up about 42% of your utility bill.

No matter what kind of heating system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can save about 30% on your energy bill while reducing environmental emissions.

Heating Tips

  • Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and lower the setpoint when you're sleeping or away from home.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. See the efficiency standards for information on minimum ratings, and look for the ENERGY STAR when purchasing new products.

Heating Systems

Active Solar Heating
Live in a cold climate, but get lots of sun? Active solar heating may be the most efficient option for heating your home.
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Electric Resistance Heating
Electric resistance heating can be expensive to operate, but may be appropriate if you heat a room infrequently or if it would be expensive to exte...
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Furnaces and Boilers
Most Americans heat their homes with a furnace or boiler, and high-efficiency models of all types of furnaces and boilers are available. Is it time...
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Wood and Pellet Heating
Looking for an efficient, renewable way to heat your home? Wood or pellets are renewable fuel sources, and modern wood and pellet stoves are effici...
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Heat Distribution Systems
Does your home have an efficient system for distributing heat? Learn about different distribution systems.
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Radiant Heating
Say goodbye to cold floors in winter. Radiant heating can be a comfortable and efficient heating choice.
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Portable Heaters
Looking for an inexpensive way to heat a room? Portable heaters are useful for supplemental or occasional heating, but must be installed and operat...
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