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Winter 2016

Alternative Heating Systems for Your Home

Heating systems all have the same basic duties – keeping your home cozy and comfortable no matter what the weather might be doing outside. But there are a number of different ways to do that and what works well for one home might not be so effective for another.

Most of us are used to traditional forced-air furnaces, which generate heat through gas burners or electrical coils, then blow hot air through a series of ducts in your home. They are safe, effective and versatile forms of heating, which is why so many homes use them. But prudent homeowners may be able to do better for themselves with an alternative form of heating.  What kinds of alternatives are available? Here’s a quick list to give you a sense of what to look for.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps use the same principles as air conditioning, but with a little twist to provide heating as well. Refrigerant circulates through a series of valves and coils to first release hot air outside your home, then pull heat from the air inside the system. The cool air can then be blown into your house with a fan.

Heat pumps simply provide a reversal system so that the pump cools the air outside the home and release hot air inside when temperatures are cold. Because the refrigerant isn’t consumed, it can warm the home for much less monthly cost than other systems can. In some cases, the heat pump alone can’t cover your needs on cold days, which is why a smaller secondary furnace is sometimes added. Either way, you benefit from reduced costs during the colder months.

Geothermal Heating Systems

Geothermal systems tap into the ambient temperature of the earth itself to heat your home. Once you dig down below the frost-line of the earth, the temperature of the ground undergoes only slight variations. Geothermal systems take advantage of that by installing tubing beneath the surface.

The liquid in this tubing facilitates a heat exchange with the ground, releasing heat from your home when it needs cooling, and absorbing heat from the earth when your home needs warmth. The system can then transfer that heat to the air and blow it through your home via your ductwork. Because geothermal energy is a renewable resource, it costs far less to run than traditional heaters.

Ductless Heating Systems

Ductless heating systems are often heat pumps, though not always. They adopt a decentralized approach to heating. Instead of one single unit, they place multiple units throughout your home, each one handling heating duties for a particular room or section. That allows you to turn off the heat in parts of the home you aren’t using, saving you money on bills.

Radiant Heating Systems

Radiant heating systems use hot water or electricity to create warmth in your home. They are often installed beneath the floorboards of your home, although some models can be installed behind the walls. They send heat into the room directly instead of heating the air itself. You stay toasty and warm, and you’re spared cold spots, breezeways, and similar issues associated with forced-air furnaces.

What Constitutes a Plumbing Emergency

What You Should Look for in a Generator

Generators make a great way to keep power going in your home when the electrical grid is knocked out during a storm or similar emergency. Not only does that ensure that your home is properly heated and that things like refrigerators and medical equipment are kept running without a hitch, but they can help keep you connected to the outside world, which can be a huge benefit in an emergency.

But once you’ve made the decision to purchase a generator, what then? How can you tell which generator is right for your home, and which one just won’t work? A trained technician can help guide you to the right unit for your specific circumstances, but in general, there are a few factors which you should think about.

How Much Power You Need

Every generator has a power load capacity which determines how much power it can supply to your home. The capacity has to be large enough to support every electrical appliance – from the lights to the fridge – hooked up to it, as well as accounting for unexpected power spikes. Ideally, your generator should be powerful enough to support every major appliance in your home.

In the event that you need a less powerful generator, you should select which appliances are important (medical equipment for example) and which can be left unplugged during an emergency (your entertainment system). A trained technician can perform a power audit on your home, allowing you to determine your exact power needs.

Placement

Placement for your generator is going to depend on a number of factors, including how it’s hooked up to your power grid and where in your home there’s sufficient space. But you need to think in terms of an emergency, and what you’ll need to do in situations where the weather or other factors can interfere with your ability to reach it. The generator needs to have adequate ventilation and lighting, and you need to be able to reach it without a problem, in the event you need to check or refuel it.

Fuel Consumption

Generators eat fuel and the last thing you want to do is have to go out in the middle of a crisis to get more. Pay close attention to the fuel consumption rate of your generator, and make sure you purchase enough fuel to last for at least three or four days before you require more. You should also mark the times when you’ll need to refuel, and set an alarm or similar reminder to do so in a timely fashion.

Maintenance

Generators can sit for months or even years before they need to be used, but when trouble comes, you might not have a lot of time to replace worn parts. That’s why it’s a good idea to get your generator serviced once or twice a year by a trained professional. That way, you can make any needed repairs in a timely fashion and when trouble comes, you’ll know that your generator will be ready!

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