How to choose the heating system best suited to your needs
There are a variety of heating systems available on the market, powered by either electricity, gas, oil, wood and even by the free energy stored in the ground. As expenses related to heating are among the most important of Canadian households, it is important to carefully consider the various options available when the time comes to install or replace an existing unit. Sometimes it's worth investing in a few renovations to make way for a new, more energy efficient system.
If consumers are mostly looking for ways to reduce their heating expenses, the trend is to shift to less energy-consuming products, thus more environmentally friendly. Reducing energy consumption during heating, can also significantly reduce our environmental footprint.
The main elements to be taken into consideration in your buying process are the following: the initial cost for the purchase and installation of the heating system as well as the energy costs or operating costs. Other factors, such as maintenance, cleanliness and noise, should also be considered.
To guide you in choosing a high efficiency heating unit, refer to the EnerGuide label to compare the energy consumption of the systems on the market and opt for an ENERGY STAR qualified appliance which meets the highest energy efficiency standards.
Among the many heating products available on the market, the following systems are known for their benefits in terms of comfort, performance and energy savings:
A high efficiency gas furnace is a sensible choice if the area where you live is serviced by a natural gas distributor. Gas furnaces have experienced significant technological improvements over the last decade and the performance of some units now reaches up to 98% in energy efficiency, that is to say that nearly all of the fuel is converted into heat.
Radiant floor heating
Quiet, safe and healthy, radiant floor heating provides an enveloping comfort. It can be installed on most types of surfaces, however it is not recommended for hardwood floors or carpeting. The radiant floor can be electric (electric cable network) or hydronic (warm fluid, usually water, flowing through a piping network). Radiant heating allows you to achieve energy savings since you can lower the room temperature a few degrees without any discomfort for the occupants.
Among all types of heating systems, heat pumps are considered the most energy efficient. They provide more comfort year round because they are also used for cooling homes during the summer.
To learn more on the energy efficiency of a heat pump over the entire heating season, refer to the equipment’s datasheet, you will find the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor coefficient (HSPF). Needless to say that it is wise to choose an ENERGY STAR qualified heat pump to maximize your energy savings.
Wall mounted heat pumps gain in popularity, and for good reason: they are easy to install since they do not require ducting, they are less expensive and more flexible than a central system and provide an unequaled level of performance. Some wall mounted heat pumps can even operate in extremely cold conditions, up to -24 ◦ C.
Other measures that could help increase your comfort level and lower your heating bills
To maximize the performance of your heating system, opt for a programmable electronic thermostat. They automatically adjust the temperature according to your lifestyle and can contribute to a substantial reduction in heating costs. Install ENERGY STAR qualified thermostats, and your savings will be even greater.
Insulation and caulking
Any heating system, as efficient as it may be, will never provide maximum comfort if your home is poorly insulated. It is therefore important to make certain improvements to ensure you fully benefit from your new heating system.
Maintenance of your heating system
Seasonal maintenance is highly recommended to keep your equipment as efficient as possible. Regular maintenance of your heating system will result not only in energy savings: you will also significantly extend its lifespan. It is however strongly recommended to use a certified dealer for the annual checkup of your equipment.