Efficient Home Heating Options

Learn about some efficient home heating options, such as warm-air heating, radiant heat, hot water heating systems, and more.

| January/February 1971

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    Your climate can have a major effect on the type of home heating that is most efficient.
    Illustration By Ken Kern
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    Hot-water heating systems can involve your floor, baseboards or ceiling.
    Illustration By Ken Kern
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    Types of warm-air heating systems include gravity baseboard, perimeter loop and radiant ceiling heat.
    Illustration By Ken Kern

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"How are you going to heat it?" This is the question most often asked at the first stages of owner-builder planning. Pertinently so, as the type of heating has a major effect on room location and window placement, as well as general house design and orientation layout. To answer this question, most people have no more information than the half-truths offered by heating appliance salesmen, heating contractors and fuel distributors.

The heating problem is not simple. Consider operation with just one type of fuel-consuming appliance, the oil burner. When a "high pressure" oil burning unit is used (such as that produced by the Carlin Company), about one gallon of oil per hour is consumed. But the Williams' Oil-O-Matic model, a "low pressure" type, requires just half this amount per hour. And now the Iron Fireman Company comes up with a "Vertical Rotary" burner which requires even less, or about one-third gallon per hour.

Electric power companies advertise the advantages of the "all-electric house" — the freedom from handling fuel and ashes, and the extreme simplicity and flexibility of operation. But with electrical rates at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour, heating costs will be about six times as much as with fuel oil at 16 cents a gallon. Where natural gas is available the cost differential is even greater. I do not mean to rule out the use of electricity for domestic heating. In regions where electrical rates are low, or where there are very mild winters, or in cases where an intermittent, quick-return type of heat is desired, electricity may offer inducements in cost and performance.

Comparative Cost in Dollars of Domestic Fuels

The following information is from Consumers Bulletin. Listed by fuel type, average price, and average cost per million BTU:

Anthracite coal; $28.50 per ton; $1.40
Bituminous coal; $16.25 per ton; $0.80
No. 2 fuel oil; $0.16 per gallon; $1.40
Manufactured gas; $1.40 per gallon; $3.35
Natural gas; $0.75 per gallon; $0.90
Bottled gas (propane); $0.14 per gallon; $1.90
Electricity; $0.03 per KWH; $8.80

As there is a wide price variation from city to city, actual local prices should be substituted for reliable comparison.

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