Does your house need a new heating system?

This predicted colder and wetter-than-usual winter is, well, colder and wetter!

That means you are likely either really appreciating your heating source or perhaps wondering if you should consider a change.


In this blog and in our blogs for the next few weeks, we will be talking about various heating systems that work well in our area.


So, does your heating system meet the needs of your family, your home and your budget? If either the cost of operating your heating system, its efficiency or safety has you thinking about your options, this is the Q and A for you!


Q. How do I know if I need a new heating system?


A. Is your current system breaking down all the time or maybe just underperforming? Maybe you’ve added onto the house and your existing system is under-sized. Perhaps you plan to upgrade a component like the outside heat pump unit, but it isn’t going to be compatible with your current central air handler heating system. Or, maybe your heating bill is too high! Those could all be reasons to consider a new heating system.


Other reasons include that you are simply tired of the restrictive nature of your current system. For instance, if you have those darn baseboard heaters or the stinky strip-heat furnace from the 1960s, you may be sick and tired of always being cold and tired and even sick from mold and mildew – not to mention the restrictions with placing furniture.


Q. What are other reasons to consider a new heating system?


A. A life change, or simply advancing years, is a good time to consider whether making a change in your heating system could positively impact your life. For instance, many houses here have wood heat as a primary or secondary heat source. While there’s nothing like a crackling fire, what it takes to get it can be time-consuming, expensive, dirty and even treacherous.

Is dealing with buying seasoned wood or locating a source, cutting, splitting, transporting, stacking and loading the fire box all day and night an issue now? Maybe a slip on the stairs with your arms full of firewood, didn’t use to be a concern but now it is. There’s also the time and effort of cleaning out the ashes, cleaning the chimney flue pipe and replacing the firebrick. People can keep the wood burning stove as a backup heating source or perhaps an occasional gathering point, but transition to relying on a different kind of heat.


Q. A new heating system seems expensive, how can I afford one?


A. Depending on your situation, a new heating system, while costing more initially, may quickly end up saving you money. When considering your options, we suggest not only looking at the cost of the mechanical system and its installation, but also at maintenance requirements, warranties and what the expected monthly heating bills will be for as long as you own it.


Q. Do you have suggestions on how to proceed with looking at the options?


A. Before you settle on one system or even one company to purchase and install, you might want to get the benefit of the knowledge from more than one company. Invite several companies to inspect your house and give you some options, including the expected heating results, any challenges to expect, the estimate for the annual cost to operate and maintain, the location of equipment for optimal performance, and the size of the unit needed to both heat and cool your house and also get the longest life from the equipment.


Getting the best information is the beginning of a great plan to get what you want at a price you can afford. Friends and family are an additional source of user information about comfort, maintenance and expenses in a real home. A salesperson can tell you a lot, but there’s nothing like asking opinions from people you trust and who have nothing to gain or lose.


Q. What can I do to make any heating system work better?


A. With any heating system, the efficiency and fuel cost will depend on how well insulated your home is along with its total glass surface and how air-tight your house is.

Another consideration is the cost of fuel and availability for various heating types. This may make a difference depending on where your house is located. For example, natural gas may not be available, or the source of pellets for a pellet stove may be 30 miles away. This is good information to know before proceeding.


Next week

In next week’s blog, we will discuss pros and cons of various heating systems. Make sure to take a look.


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