Green Heating for Your Home
Society is becoming more and more aware of the environment nowadays. Words like “energy efficient, green construction” and “biodegradable” are becoming commonplace, and many of us are buying products with these types of labels in an attempt to do our part to save the environment. Chevrolet recently jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon as well, touting certain vehicles as “gas-friendly" to "gas-free.” Essentially, this translates to cars with a gas mileage of 30 MPG that can run on "mostly renewable" E85 ethanol. What “mostly renewable” means is open to interpretation. However, taking into account that engineers in France are developing a van that is powered by compressed air, and the European community is considering implementing a 60 MPG minimum on new cars, Chevy’s “gas friendly” cars suddenly don't look so friendly.
One way to be more “green conscious” is to incorporate green construction into an existing home and invest in products that run on renewable energy – such as electricity – rather than fossil fuels. Although much of the world’s electricity is produced using coal, nuclear, and natural gas, electricity is also produced by means of totally renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind. As fossil fuels become more scarce, these renewable energy sources will be in the forefront of energy production.
So where can you start? Most homes in America are heated using gas, and most of us can’t ignore the rising costs. Lowering the thermostat to barely tolerable temperatures may be your solution, but if you have children who are blissfully ignorant about the cost of heating, they have probably been tempted once or twice to warm things up when you weren’t looking. An alternative heating to gas that is hugely popular in Europe, and one that your children are guaranteed to love, is radiant heat.
Oddly enough, radiant heat is actually the oldest form of heating homes, originating all the way back to the Romans. Yeah, they were pretty smart. When most of us think of radiant heat, we think of hydronic technology. For those of you who are still in the dark, a hydronic system heats the floor of a home through a heated water loop that is pumped through a series of underfloor piping. Drawbacks to these types of systems are a significant rise in the height of the floor and relatively difficult - and costly - installation.
An more efficient form of radiant floor heating runs on electricity. There is no magic behind it, just a wire or cable that is installed easily beneath the floor surface, including hardwood, tile, cement and even carpet. ComfortTile electric underfloor heating cables and mats raise the floor less than half an inch and can be installed by any ambitious do-it-yourselfer. (However, the system must be wired by a qualified electrician.) But the best part is that these floor warming systems are energy efficient, consuming only 12 watts per square foot (many systems are even less), are programmable, and allow you to heat your home comfortably at lower temperatures because the electric radiant heat warms from the floor upwards.
Radiant underfloor heat systems also provide other benefits. Allergy sufferers will be pleased to know that because electric radiant heating does not use forced air to heat, dust, pollens, and other allergens won’t be stir up in the air. Forced air heating systems also dry out your skin significantly, not to mention they take a fair amount of time to warm up your home. With radiant heat, your home heats up almost instantly, evenly and much more comfortably.
Investing in energy efficient products that run on electricity, like electric radiant heat, can have a dramatic affect on the environment. Something not easily digested is that America consumes 43 percent of the world’s motor gasoline, 25 percent of its crude petroleum, 25 percent of its natural gas, and 23 percent of its hard coal; however, altering our consuming habits and utilizing radiant heat just might cut down these numbers and make your home a green home. Not only will you feel a little better, but you'll make your home warmer, and your wallet just might be a little thicker.