Homes With Heart – Heather Coombs-Perez

For the past few weeks there’s been an undeniable chill in the air, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using my heater to prevent Jack Frost from nipping at my nose. The bad part about this scenario, is that the resultant increase in my gas and electrical bills will make me act like Scrooge!

Which got me thinking…we can send a man to the moon, communicate in a “cloud”, and cure all kinds of diseases. Isn’t there a more efficient way of heating our homes? The answer is yes.

Although the upfront cost of installing these solutions may be a bit high, they’ll help you stay warm and toasty, make the world greener, and keep more of your pennies in your pocket in the long run.

• Electric radiant flooring – Typically consisting of electric cables built into the floor, this type of heating can also feature mats of electrically conducive plastic mounted onto the sub-floor below a covering such as tile. Considered less than optimal for large areas, this type of solution is ideal for smaller spaces such as bathrooms. Generally on a timer, the radiant floor can be heated during the intervals it is needed, such as in the morning while preparing for the day. If you want to use radiant floors in a larger area, due to the high cost of electricity, the only efficient installation is within a slab of concrete with a suffi cient thermal mass to collect and store the heat. That way, you can heat the concrete in off-peak hours (usually 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and it will be released over the course of the day to the rest of the house.

• Hydronic radiant floors – The most popular and cost-effective radiant heating system, hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water through tubing laid in a pattern below the floor. Individual room temperatures can be controlled by installing a series of zoning valves and thermostats. The tubes can be laid as a “wet” installation—meaning they are embedded either in a thick concrete slab, or in a thin layer of concrete installed on top of a sub-floor. A “dry” installation is a more recent innovation, whereby the tubing can be run in an air space beneath the floor. A dry floor is generally faster and less expensive to build, but often needs a higher temperature to get the desired heating effect.

• Geothermal heating – Simply put, geothermal systems harness the energy of the earth’s molten core to pump hot water and steam up from below the surface. Using a “ground source heat pump”, a series of tubes are laid a few feet below the surface of the earth where the temperature tends to stay constant. The tubes are filled with air or antifreeze, and as the material moves through the ground it picks up heat carrying it into the home. In the summer, the flow of the conducting material can be reversed, cooling the home. The California Energy Commission estimates a system, including the drilling to lay the pipes, to cost about $17,500 to install. However, using this system will save as much as 70 percent over traditional heating costs.

For more information about reputable contractors and how changing your heating system can impact your home’s value, contact me at [email protected].

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