Home Heating Systems
In cold regions, warming the interior of a building is a matter of concern. They are absolutely necessary as they keep people warm and cozy; but attention has to be paid to their efficiency, keeping in mind the energy costs they can generate especially in large buildings. With a wide range of these systems available, it can be quite confusing to choose the right one based on your needs.
These systems basically consist of a central room where the heat is generated and from there it is distributed throughout the building. The medium of heat distribution may be air via ducts and either water or steam via pipes. They may be based on a variety of fuels.
Furnace based central heating
These are the ideal system for heating small buildings. The source of fuel may be natural gas, oil or electricity though electricity is expensive and thus is used less. The fuel is ignited to heat an exchanger made of metal which transfers the heat to the air. A fan blows the air from the heat exchanger to rooms via ducts throughout the building. Combustion byproducts are vented out via a chimney. A thermostat is used to control the ambient temperature.
Boilers make use of water for heat distribution. The water is boiled in the boiler by use of oil or natural gas as a source of fuel. A pump is then employed to circulate warm water to radiators via pipes or plastic tubing in the floor. It transfers the heat to the radiators throughout the building, and the cooler water is reheated after it returns to the boiler. If a boiler uses steam instead of water, the system will include a radiator to condense the steam back into the water. This system can provide thermostat controls for individual rooms. They may be employed for the medium scale to large scale business or buildings.
The working of a heat pump is like an air conditioner but in reverse. They absorb heat from cold outdoors and transfer it indoors via warm-air. They use electricity to transfer the heat rather than moving it and hence are highly efficient. Ground source heat pumps also exist that scavenge heat from the ground. Ground source heat pumps are more efficient but also much more expensive than their Air source counterparts.
Renewable Heating Sources
Various renewable sources of water heating are also available. These make use of natural heat, such as that from the sun and leave no carbon footprint while being extremely cheap in the long run.
Solar water heating
Solar water heating makes use of sunlight to heat the water. While photovoltaic panels generate electricity, this system heats the water directly. It is a compact system that makes use of heating panels to warm the water. The water is then circulated using pump via pipes throughout the building and transfers heat via radiators. These are ideal for areas that receive adequate sunlight in the winters. This is the best form of heating for large hospitals and commercial and business buildings. It is much cheaper to sustain and leave least carbon footprint.
The conditions for implementation of geothermal heating are extremely rare. These are common in volcanic areas. These areas have geysers, a phenomenon where the surface water goes into the depths of the earth and makes contact with the rocks heated by magma. This hot water or steam erupts to the surface of the earth. This steams energy may be used to meet the heating needs of a building.
Direct home heating systems are employed when there is a requirement to heat an individual room or there is no feasibility for air ducts or pipes in the building.
Gas-Fired Space Heaters
These are ductless and have a small heat output. They may use some form of fossil fuel and are suitable for cabins and single room heating.
Electric Space Heaters
They make use of electricity to generate heat. These are not very efficient when compared to the gas or oil based counterparts. They are inexpensive to install but have very high running costs. These are rarely used.
These make use of wood and are employed in rural areas. They have lower running costs than other fuel based options.
Fireplaces are mostly used for aesthetic reasons and are not an efficient method of heating.
No matter what the requirement of a building is, there are plenty of options available for heating. The right choice will come down to the size of the building, the heating requirement and the fuel source that is readily available and will result in cheaper bills.