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Energy Efficient Choices - The Best Methods for Heating and Cooling

Energy Efficient Choices

The Best Methods for Heating and Cooling

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Copyright 2008-2009 Alternative Power Choices - The Best Methods for Heating and Cooling

Opting For Sources of Free Heat

An excerpt from ‘The Rewards of Making Energy-Efficient Choices’ by David Nelmes :

Our heating and cooling needs far exceed what we may require for basic lighting and appliance use, so even a small improvement with heating and cooling efficiencies can add up to substantial savings.

Some factors that cannot be resolved by selecting the best heating or cooling system have to do with how efficiently and effectively your home is built to retain the conditioned air.

Geothermal and Air Source Heat Pumps

The first response I get when talking about utilizing ‘Free Heat’ is that there is no such thing as free heat, but this has more to do with a misunderstanding of heat than it is does with the intelligence of whoever provides that response.

There is an underground heat source within our planet that will be available for another billion years or so—not 20 years, like the natural gas reserves and not 100 years, like the coal reserves, but billions of years...and it's free.

When you buy oil, coal, propane gas or natural gas, you are paying for the cost to find it, the cost to build the mining facilities to extract it, the cost to process it into a useable fuel, the cost to deliver it and the cost associated with providing major profits to the owners and stockholders of the companies involved. But that's not all. To ensure the customer is rarely treated fairly, the price you pay will increase as your need for it increases and will drop as your need for it drops.

Now, let's take a look at a geothermal heat pump system. There is no cost to find this heat since it is simply straight down in almost every application. There is a one-time major expense to purchase and install the heat pump system. There is a minimal electrical expense involved with extracting and processing the heat to make it suitable for the home. You are the only one who profits by experiencing low heating bills. As a final perk, you are always treated fairly since the minimal price for heating and cooling remains constant during the winter when you need it the most as it does during the spring when you hardly need it at all.

Air source heat pumps work in the same fashion. The trade-off is that they cost less to install, but they cost more to run as you live in increasing colder regions of the world because they generally require supplemental electric resistance heat to kick in when temperatures fall below freezing.

One issue with air source heat pumps is that colder climates generally require two to three times the heating potential as compared to what they need for cooling. When installing an air source heat pump, you can generally only oversize it by 25% of what the cooling load is for the home, so if the house has a cooling load of 24,000 BTU and has a heating requirement of 78,000 BTU, the largest heat pump system you could install is 24,000 x 1.25 = 30,000 BTU, which is less than half the required heating load. This imbalance almost always necessitates the addition of a secondary heating source such as electric resistance heat, gas or coal.

Since a geothermal heat pump system can be rather expensive and/or require sufficient land to dig the necessary wells, an alternative was needed to keep the air source heat pump in the running and the answer is the cold climate heat pump. A cold climate heat pump is specially designed to run at extremely low temperatures, and to get around the issue where the system can only be oversized by 25% of the cooling load, the cold climate heat pump includes a second compressor that only runs when the temperature drops below freezing, giving you the extra heating capacity necessary to either eliminate or greatly reduce any need of supplemental heat.


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Solar Heating

Just as with geothermal energy, solar energy is freely available and will be for billions of years. The only primary downside with solar heat is that it is only truly helpful during daylight hours when the need for heat is reduced.

To overcome issues with solar heating, it will work well to find increased methods by which more of the heat could be stored so that the solar heating system has the capacity to heat a room throughout an entire night without any need of supplemental heat.

Unlike geothermal heat, solar heat can only be optimized on the south and southwest sides of the home, provided there are no trees or other structures to further diminish its full effect.


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