By Yuka Kato
As you begin to prepare for the upcoming winter this year, make sure you give some attention to your home’s heating system. An outdated furnace or heat source could be wasting money each month, while still leaving your home chillier than you might prefer. Keep your house warm this season. The following projects will help you maximize efficiency and comfort this winter, no matter how low the temperatures drop.
Imagine stepping onto a warm tile floor in the mornings this winter when you step out of the shower. With radiant heating, you can. Installing electric radiant heat in a small room like the bathroom costs around $700, and heats the space more effectively than a radiator, which can produce cold spots.
This upgrade is typically viewed well by prospective home buyers because it is considered a “luxury update” and may make your home easier to sell, as well as more comfortable right now. If adding a radiant heat floor seems too invasive, consider using a radiant panel instead. Mounted on your existing walls, these panels put out considerable heat for little energy, and cost about $300.
Radiant Heat Throughout the Home
If your current heating system isn’t getting the job done, consider switching to radiant heat throughout your home. Compared to baseboard heaters, radiant heat is more energy efficient and comfortable, saving you money each month on energy bills, and letting you set the thermostat lower than you would with other systems. As noted on Money Crashers, simply lowering your thermostat one degree for 8 hours will save you 1% on your energy bills; radiant heating allows you to set it four to five degrees lower, which can save you even more.
Cost wise, prices start around $6,000 - the same as a new baseboard heating system, so if your heat system needs an upgrade, consider switching to radiant heat to get the most benefits.
Upgrade Your Furnace
If your furnace isn’t working well, it could be using more energy than it should to heat your home. Furnace repairs, such as replacing the heat exchange, cost around $1,000 to $1,700 and can help maximize your furnace’s efficiency.
If the furnace is more than 10 years old, however, consider replacing it with a new one. Furnaces older than 10 years will cost you a lot more money each month than you would pay if you upgraded to a new, energy efficient furnace. Older furnaces are only 50 - 70% efficient at converting energy to heat, while newer furnaces convert up to 98.5%, saving you hundreds of dollars a year.
Install a Gas Fireplace
For the last several years, fireplaces have been trending upward as desirable features of homes for new home buyers. The key to maximizing your investment is to choose a fireplace that will be both comfortable and efficient, as well as beautiful.
A gas fireplace can help heat the room it’s installed in, lowering your energy bills, while providing you with comfort and beauty. Readymade fireplaces cost around $4,500 to $8,500.
If you have a current wood-burning fireplace in your home, consider investing in an insert for around $500 to get the energy efficiency benefits, while maintaining the original mantel and hearth.
Invest in Warmth
Part of your home’s value comes from the way that it functions and operates, and this includes how well it protects you from the cold in the winter months. Don’t keep spending money each month on high energy bills, while you shiver from the cold. Instead, invest in quality heating products for your home, which will save you each month in energy bills, and long-term over the life of the appliance. Remember, as mentioned by Amy Livingston, personal finance writer, “You’ll be better off if you pay more in the first place for a product that’s built to last.” So, invest in your home now, to pay off over the winters to come.