How Do I Choose Between the Most Economical Gas Heaters?
These days, it seems everyone is pondering the question of energy efficiency. With energy costs rising and the need for green technology becoming more of a priority than ever before, people are being forced to consider the origin (and price) of every watt of power that enters their homes.
Nothing is immune to this consideration: whether it’s an item as small as the charger cable for your smartphone or as large as the vehicle you drive, you’re always opting for the most energy-efficient model.
Nowhere, perhaps, is this decision more important than in your choice of heater. After all, not only is the heater one of the most important elements in your home—your family’s health and safety depend on it during the cold winter months—it’s also the one that’s the most variable in terms of overall cost. There are many different methods of heating the home, and each brings its own particular benefits and drawbacks. Some will dazzle you with the latest technology and boast a price tag to match. Others will humbly do their jobs at a much lower cost. If you’re looking to keep costs as low as possible, consider investing in a gas system and choosing one of the most economical gas heaters.
How Does a Gas Heater Heat Your Home?
As its name suggests, a gas heater utilizes gas as a fuel source. This is either propane or natural gas. This fuel source is pumped into your furnace, where it’s burned to produce heat. The heated air is then circulated through the ducts in your home using a blower. It doesn’t take long at all to reach nice, warm temperatures. Gas heaters are even effective in the subzero temperatures that occur in many parts of the country.
Why Gas, Anyway?
Gas heating has been popular for decades now and remains so because it’s reliable, inexpensive, and yes, energy-efficient. Natural gas burns more efficiently than other fuel sources, such as wood or oil. It’s significantly cheaper to use than electricity, as well as better for the environment overall. Because of its increased efficiency, it will put less carbon into the atmosphere than other options.
Using a gas heater requires access to a source of natural gas or propane. In many cases, this is the largest upfront cost. If your home doesn’t already have a gas pipeline installed, you’ll have to incur the expense of having one put in. This can be expensive, but if you consider it an investment, it may prove to be well worth it, as you’ll save a great deal in energy costs over the years.
But if you’ve chosen to use a gas heater to keep your home toasty when the temperature outside starts to drop, that’s only the first step. You’ll next need to decide exactly which heater to buy. There are plenty of good options, so how do you choose between the most economical gas heaters?
Look at the Average Costs in Your Area
The amount of money you can expect to pay for a gas heater can vary quite a bit, depending on all sorts of factors: the size and age of your home, your existing duct system, your access to gas pipelines, and your location. While no two homes are exactly alike, and therefore no two homeowners can expect to pay the exact same amount, you can still benefit from studying the average costs in your area. While you don’t want to overpay, you shouldn’t opt for the cheapest model on the market either. A cheap gas heater might save you money in the very short-term, but it’s sure to cost you a lot in the long run, due to the significantly reduced energy efficiency.
You won’t be able to choose the most economical gas heaters without taking the size of your home into account. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. A heater that’s too small for the home that it’s in will have to work extra hard to warm every room, thus using a lot of extra gas, while one that’s too big will burn unnecessary amounts of fuel to heat a smaller area.
In both cases, the heater will be inefficient. Not only will this cost you more money in gas, it will cause the heater to repeatedly have to turn on and off, prematurely wearing out the equipment and driving up repair costs. Of course, your home won’t be especially comfortable under these conditions, either.
The size of your heater is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. This is a measure of exactly how much heat your furnace can put out in one hour. The smallest heaters produce as little as 36,000 BTUs, while the largest ones can produce as much as 144,000.
Discovering which furnace is the right size isn’t always easy. If you’re replacing a heater that has served you well in the past, it might be as simple as getting another one of the same size. On the other hand, if your old heater wasn’t especially efficient, or if you’re installing a furnace in a home that didn’t have one before, you’ll probably have to have an HVAC professional calculate the size heater you need. Contact a company like Entek HVAC and ask for an engineer to visit your home and figure out what will work best based on the square footage of your house.
Research the Different Brands
Once you know what size furnace you need, you can do a little research on the different brands. Which brand you settle on will depend upon your budget. As with other products, there are budget models, as well as higher-end models that will cost more but may last for a lot longer. Take your time with this phase of your heater selection project. Read online reviews, and if possible, speak with other homeowners about the heaters they have used, especially if their homes are similar in size to yours.
Look for a heater with a warranty; the longer, the better. This way, if you encounter any problems that require repair, you’ll be covered. Don’t look at it in terms of pure economics either. You’ll want to choose a heater that has an excellent safety rating. Once you’re satisfied with the choices you have made, contact your HVAC professional and the installation process can begin!