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What heat source is right for you?

Is it time for you to consider a new heating source for your house?

In our last blog, we discussed how you might know if it is time for a new heating system and what general things you should consider if you intend to update or replace yours.

Today, we are going to tackle the pros and cons of several different heating systems.

Q. What are the pros and cons of electrical baseboard heaters?

A. In the Pacific Northwest, where electricity tends to be cheaper, electrical baseboard heaters have been around for a long time.

Among the pros of these heaters is that they are inexpensive to buy, quiet, and require little maintenance.

As for the cons, we would note that they are not child-proof, a little one could can be burned by touching a unit. Also, the units may require additional wiring or service panel upgrades to the house. These are considered the least efficient type of electrical heating units and, of course, do not work if the power goes out.

Q. What are the pros and cons of Cadet wall heaters?

A. Price is at the top of the list for the pros of Cadet wall heaters. In addition, they produce instant fan-forced heat and are more efficient than baseboard heating.

However, in the cons category, they are noisy, may require service upgrades or additional wiring, can be an “attractive” and dangerous nuisance to toddlers, reduce options for furniture and door layout in a home and are not a very comfortable heat source. Also, they don’t work if the power goes out.

Q. What are the pros and cons of gas heating?

A. Natural Gas heat is a nice, comfortable type of heat. It is basically clean burning and can be used with a variety of heating appliance types. Propane is another gas source when natural gas is not available.

However, while basically clean burning, it still does produce carbon monoxide and maintenance is required to avoid carbon monoxide concerns. It typically requires ductwork in the home and is not available in all areas. That is, if you live way out in the county, there may not be a gas line to your home, so you’d have to use liquefied petroleum (LP) gas in a storage tank that you may have to lease. Sometimes complicated piping, cutting and venting may be required. Also, depending on your set up, it may not work if the power goes out.

Q. What are the pros and cons of a wood stove?

A. A wood stove provides wonderful heat, has great ambience and can be inexpensive if you have a free source of wood. In addition, it always works when the power goes out.

However, some cons for the wood stove include safety concerns, especially with young children, around the hot stove, the time needed to split wood, bring in wood, clean out ash, clean the chimney liner annually as well as the bugs, dirt and bark that can infest and dirty your home. In addition, one needs to dedicate a large storage area for wood and be aware of environmental concerns of burning wood.

Q. What are the pros and cons of a pellet stove?

A. A pellet stove also provides a nice, bone-warming dry heat. Fueling is easier than a wood stove and doesn’t include introducing bugs into your home.

However, pellets are expensive, the fuel storage takes up room, and a pellet stove can be a safety hazard with toddlers and others. Also, because a pellet stove requires electricity to work, it doesn’t work when the power goes out!

Q. What are the pros and cons of a heat pump with ductwork?

A. A traditional heat pump is non-polluting and is available in all areas. A geo-thermal type unit, which captures the heat of the earth, is particularly efficient. A heat pump is considered the best electrical heating/cooling source for this area.

However, the initial expense to install a heat pump can be high and it may require an electrical service upgrade to your home. The location of the exterior unit may be a practical and aesthetic issue – no one wants to look at a big machine. In addition, it requires an air handler-type furnace and ductwork and doesn’t work if the power goes out.

Q. What are the pros and cons of a ductless heat pump?

A. We’ll just say it right out: This is our favorite of the option. The pros of a ductless heat pump include that it is non-polluting, does not require expensive ductwork, is super-efficient and is available in all areas. In addition, it provides the cooling feature, which makes homes more comfortable in the summer months. Also, the cost of installing a ductless heat pump is relatively low after rebates. We just think it’s the best electrical heating and cooling source for this area!

Of course, there are a few “cons” to this choice as well. The placing of the interior and exterior units may pose a practical and aesthetic issue for the inside and outside of your home. (Although the interior units have gotten more attractive and the exterior ones can sometimes be hidden by a fence or placed in a area that doesn’t affect your home’s curb appeal.) A ductless heat pump mainly heats what it can “see,” so that may mean more than one is needed. And, alas, without a generator, it doesn’t work when the power goes out.

Ductless heat program

In our next blog we will tell you more about our area’s ductless heat program. If you want more information in the meantime, contact the Grays Harbor County PUD.


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