Alternative Heating Systems in Your Home

You will already have a heating system in your home (80% of homes in Britain have central heating or storage radiators). Most of these systems have been designed to cope with the higher heating load of a badly draught-proofed and insulated house. Many of them have the capacity to heat the house on the coldest day of the year to 21 °C and it is arguable that this is necessary. Many heating systems work most efficiently when they are working at maximum load, which means that if the system is designed for the coldest day it will be working less efficiently on all the other days. This problem is being solved with the latest designs of boilers and their controls.

Since we are looking at the ecological upgrading of an existing system we need to review the situation with the assumption that you have draught-proofed and insulated your home to as high a standard as you can afford. The most ecological sources of energy have already been identified. The best system for your particular home will depend on the characteristics of the building and your lifestyle. The alternative systems to choose from are as follows:

o Full central heating
o Partial central heating
o Individual space heaters where required
o Reliance entirely on incidental sources of heat

There are various reasons why you may not require a full central heating system. Here are some of them:

o If your house is small, compact and well insulated
o If your house receives sufficient passive solar energy
o If your house has an Aga or equivalent range
o If your house has a large ceramic masonry heater
o If you intend to concentrate your activities in only one or two rooms
We shall start by looking at full central heating, and work back from there.

Full central heating
The vast majority of central heating systems use water as the medium to transport the heat from the central boiler to where it is required. There are many other types of central heating such as hot air systems, underfloor heating and steam systems. However I shall deal mainly with ‘wet systems’ as it is the system you are most likely to have.

A wet central heating system consists in most cases of the following parts:
o The boiler that burns the fuel and transfers the heat to water
o The pipework that transports the hot water usually with the help of a pump
o The radiators that transfer the heat from the water to its surroundings
o The controls to ensure that the right amount of heat is delivered to where required at the right time

If central heating is already installed, the first question to ask is whether or not it is the right size system. If you have improved the insulation as indicated then it is likely that the system will be oversized and the boiler size can be reduced when you next replace it. You may also want to reduce the size or number of the radiators if this will enable the more efficient use of any of your rooms.

If you don’t have central heating, you may well be considering whether it is right for you. You need to make a realistic assessment of the costs of your existing system. For example, you may have individual heaters using existing chimney flues which could be resulting in considerable heat loss. If you have a relatively large house and you need to keep the majority of it warm most of the time, it is probably sensible to go for a high-efficiency gas central heating system and for the smallest boiler size compatible with the insulation.

A partial central heating system
If however you have a medium-sized two-story well insulated house, it is certainly not essential to install full central heating in order to ensure an adequate distribution of heat. Evidence suggests that if the ground floor is kept warm through central heating, sufficient heat finds its way upstairs by natural air movement upwards, encouraged by the stack effect and conduction through the ground floor ceilings to provide an acceptable temperature in upstairs bedrooms.

Even if you have central heating, it is probably a good idea to place a heater with some radiant output in the main living room to allow a quick warm-up of the principal room. It is useful in autumn and spring to be able to warm one room without having the whole system running.

Individual space heaters and alternatives to central heating
There are many different types of unit space heaters. Some of the most efficient now are the gas wall heaters with balanced flues. There is also the possibility of an efficiently designed wood-burning stove, if you are willing to spend the time tending it to ensure that it burns correctly. Many people have been persuaded into heating their homes with electric storage heaters because of cheap rate tariffs-which bear very little relationship to the amount of C02 produced-and the cheaper initial cost of installation. However, heating your house wholly by electricity is not ecologically sound and should certainly be avoided. Electric heaters can be justified only if they are used sparingly as a top-up heater to be taken on occasion to anywhere in the house and used in a very localised way for a limited period of time. The most effective heaters for this purpose are the small fan heaters with built-in thermostatic control. However, think first of wearing more clothes!

An Introduction To The Basics Of a Central Heating System

Installation of a central heating system in your home is a very important decision; therefore carefully choose the right system and the right person to install it. It is an efficient method used for heating your entire home because it heats the entire house instead of heating separate areas. You can control the temperature in a particular area if you have thermostats installed in individual areas. As this system heats your entire house, you can cut down energy costs by controlling the amount of heating in different areas.

Various types of central heating systems are available in the market but the commonly used components are the circulation system that distributes heat, a radiator which can maintain the heat temporarily and a boiler. These systems are available in two different designs that are powered either by heating oil or natural gas. Systems used many years ago have tanks containing water to be heated as well as a feeder system to the radiators. The tank would be placed at the higher elevations so that gravity would help in the distribution of the heat. This system was not effective because heat would be wasted in it.

The advanced closed system does not require any tank or piping and hot water remains in the system under pressure. Closed heating system has many advantages. It is easy to install and no space is needed for tank, therefore it can save a considerable amount of space. It does not have any problem of freezing or overflow of water. It can be filled easily because the air is discharged under pressure. The maintenance of these systems is very easy because they can be flushed with water from the main supply.

The central heating system should contain all the essential accessories and controls needed for efficient operation. Proper installation will help you to regulate the water and pressure flows; therefore it should be installed by an expert person. Bigger homes need multiple heating systems; therefore an expert will suggest you which brand is more efficient and he will also provide you some useful tips to keep your system in good operating conditions.

You can add a programmable thermostat to your central heating system which is an additional benefit of this system. You can save large amount of money on energy cost by using above special feature. You can set your temperature at specific time and in specific area. You can also set it to be off while you are not at home and you can also set it to be on at a specific temperature an hour before arriving to your home.

An open vent or gravity fed central heating system is the safest system because it does not involve the use of any pressurized chambers. Its design is very simple because it uses gravity for circulating water through the pipes. It has two tanks for the storage of water; the smaller tank is used for storing hot water and the bigger tank for storing cold water and gravity pushes the water from the bigger tank to the smaller tank. Boiler heats the water and this heated water is passed through the pipes which run throughout the house.

Choosing Efficient Central Heating Systems

The decision to install central heating systems is a major one as heating is one of the major home operating expenses. Care must be taken to ensure that you choose the right system for your home and also the right person to install it.

Central heating systems are by far, one of the most efficient methods for heating your home, as heat is efficiently distributed to the entire house, rather than to having to individually heat separate areas. Thermostats installed in individual areas will allow you to control the temperatures in specific regions. Although your entire home being heated with central heating systems, you can exercise control energy costs by controlling the amount of heating to individual areas.

There may be different types of central heating systems, but the basic components are a boiler, a radiator to temporarily maintain the heat, and the circulation systems that distributes the heat. There are two different designs for these systems that are usually powered by either natural gas or heating oil.

Earlier systems would normally contain a tank that contain the water to be heated, and a feeder system to the radiators. The tank would normally be placed at higher elevations, where gravity would help in the distribution. This system was ineffective as the heat would be wasted, as it rises even though the hot water flows downward.

The updated closed system needs no tanks or piping. Heated water is held in the system under pressure as it circulates through the radiators. There are several advantages with the closed heating system.
• Installation is much simpler, and no tank space is needed.
• There are no associated water problems of freezing or overflow or internal water damages.
• The systems can be easier to fill when necessary, as the air is discharged under pressure.
• They can save a considerable amount of space as no tank is needed.
• They are low maintenance, and can usually be flushed with water from the main supply.

The heating system would contain all the necessary controls and accessories required for efficient operation, and should be installed by an expert. When properly installed, controls will allow you to regulate the pressure and water flows. Experts may also be able to provide some useful tips to keep your system operating at close to the optimal. Larger homes may often need multiple heating systems, and the experts, can also tell you which brands are more efficient.

One of the great advantages of the system is the ability to add programmable thermostats. This feature allows you to save substantial amounts each year on energy costs. The simple installation allows you set your temperatures in specific areas, at specific times during the day. It can be set to be off while you are away, and to be on at a fixed temperature an hour before you arrive.

Central Heating can be more cost-effective than other forms of heating as they are lower maintenance and operate at much lower costs. They can also be operated automatically and are much simpler to install.