Choices for Replacing Oil or Gas Heat

With cold weather approaching fast, homeowners are once again thinking about whether it might finally be time to think about replacing oil or gas heat with something more environmentally friendly and economical. Whether you are replacing oil heat or replacing gas heat, you have lots of great green choices for a new home heating system that is both sustainable and affordable.

The following home heating systems are among the most popular choices for replacing oil or gas heat. Many more are available, but these are some of the best:

Geothermal Systems: Geothermal home heating systems are one of the most ecologically sound choices for replacing oil heat or replacing gas heat. A geothermal system taps the heat of the earth itself by burying lines underground (below the frost line). In winter, the heat of the earth itself is circulated and in summer the reverse process provides air conditioning. This is possible by means of a heat exchanger: a device similar to the one in a standard air conditioner. A heat exchanger takes heat out of the earth in summer and takes cold out in winter. geothermal heat is fairly expensive to install (between $8,000 and $15,000 for existing construction), but once installed is almost free. If you can tap solar for the electricity to run the heat exchanger, you basically have free heating and cooling for life.

Pellet and Multi-fuel Stoves

Pellet stoves are high-efficiency wood stoves that burn pellets made of pressed sawdust or saw grass. Multi-fuel stoves burn wood pellets, saw grass pellets, dried corn, or fruit pits. Unlike conventional wood stoves, pellet and multi-fuel stoves produce very little ash and almost no toxic byproducts. They both can be vented directly outside (much like a conventional clothes dryer) and need no special chimney, making installation easy and safe. A single pellet stove can easily heat an entire home if well placed. Pellet stoves cost between $1100 and $2000 depending on size and features, so they are very affordable.

High-Efficiency Wood Stoves

Conventional wood stoves burn wood in an air tight chamber, which creates lots of ash and toxic fumes. By designing a wood stove to burn wood in an open chamber, companies like Jotl have been able to create home heating stoves that look much like fireplaces but are so efficient they are comparable to pellet stoves in ash production. You can also burn larger pieces of wood in these stoves, so less splitting is necessary. Jotl stoves are a bit pricier than conventional wood stoves, but they last a lifetime and are incredible energy-efficient and safe.

Waste Boilers and Furnace Add-ons

If replacing oil heat or replacing gas heat is too daunting and you just want to do something that will cut your heating bill without having to rip out your existing system, you can add on any number of furnaces that will use your oil or gas system to circulate heat obtained from renewable energy sources such as waste wood and weeds, waste oil, wood, or even wood pellets. Do-it-yourself instructions for all these add-on furnaces are widely available online, but it’s a good idea to have your arrangement checked out by a professional to make sure it conforms to local building codes and is safe to operate.

Any of these choices for replacing oil or gas heat will save you money and protect the environment. When combined with other alternative solutions such as solar electricity and solar water heating, it is possible to reduce home heating and utility bills to almost nothing at all. It takes time and commitment to get there, but the peace of mind is more than worth it not to mention the lower bills!

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