Understanding your green heating options
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and convert it to power than can be used to heat the home.
Many homeowners turn to green heating methods to cut down on their utility bills and minimize their carbon footprints. If you're looking to go green in the near future, the following options can help you achieve a more green home.
Some older wood stoves are known to negatively affect the air quality in the home, but newer wood stoves are made to reduce the smoke and ash caused by burning wood. They also can be used for cooking, which reduces the need for a gas or electric stove. As the name suggests, wood stoves burn seasoned wood. Although gathering and cutting wood is far more labor intensive than other heating options, the cost is often minimal. You also can look into wood pellets that are made from recycled sawdust and wood scraps.
While using wood stoves is cost effective, it also comes with a degree of danger. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Fire Administration, 36 percent of home fires in rural areas were caused by wood stoves and fireplaces.
Another green heating option is solar power. There are actually two options for solar power: passive solar power and active solar power. Active solar power heats the home through the use of solar panels installed on the roof. The panels collect sunlight and send it to an inverter, which then converts it to power the home's electrical system can use.
Passive heating doesn't involve any electrical or mechanical devices. Instead, it combines the use of windows, walls and the natural environment to collect and store solar energy. For example, if you install large windows facing the south and have deciduous trees growing around your home, the trees will shade the house in the summer, keeping it cool. In the winter, when all the leaves are gone, the windows will allow ample sunlight into the home, bringing additional heat.
Another option is geothermal heating. Geothermal heat uses the natural heat found underground to heat the house. In most homes, a geothermal heat pump is buried underground and extracts heat from the ground and sends it to the home The initial costs of installing a geothermal unit are high, but once installed it requires almost no more work and can last for well over 25 years.
For more information, visit the Angie's List Guide to Green Living.