The energy-efficient house: heating and cooling Appliances

Heating and cooling your home can be an expensive business. These tips will help you choose systems that will be better for the environment and your pocket book.

The energy-efficient house: heating and cooling Appliances

1. Historically speaking...

In the 20th century, relatively cheap power derived from fossil fuels, mainly electricity generated from coal and oil, made it possible for buildings of any design to be effectively heated and cooled. Extravagant energy consumption continued for decades in industrialized countries until the embargo by oil-producing nations in 1973 made people realize that they could not take for granted the continued supply of cheap fuel.

Energy conservation received a further boost in the 1980s with the recognition that emissions from burning fossil fuels are not only polluting air, water and land, but also contributing to a process of global atmospheric warming known as the greenhouse effect, which could lead to climate changes throughout the world.

2. Types of appliances

In choosing a home heating appliance or system, the cost and availability of fuel will be an important consideration.

  1. Even in regions where wood is plentiful, an open fire is a particularly inefficient method of heating because about three-quarters of the heat produced goes straight up the chimney.
  2. Airtight slow-combustion stoves are much more efficient in converting wood into useful heat.
  3. An electric storage space heater is even more efficient in delivering useful heat. In areas where cheaper off-peak rates are offered, such an appliance will provide heat at a unit cost that is lower than most other methods.
  4. Contrary to popular opinion, electric radiators are also efficient, but are more costly to run, while natural gas heaters are less efficient than electrical heaters, but offer a competitive fuel cost.
  5. Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling at a reasonable level of efficiency and at comparatively low running cost because they are efficient at moving heat into or out of a space.
  6. Tests during summer conditions have shown that some of these air conditioners can have an energy efficiency of 250 percent, that is, they produce two-and-a-half times the amount of heat energy that they consume.The size of the space to be heated and cooled is an important consideration; space heaters and heat pumps are appropriate for large living areas, and electric radiators suit smaller spaces such as bedrooms.

Remember that a house designed for passive energy efficiency will require less active — and perhaps less costly — heating and cooling no matter what method is used.

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