Is central heating more economical?
Choosing a heating system can be complicated when considering a new one for your home. Central heating is recognized as the most economical and is recommended by many professionals. But what are the different systems available and do they really save money in the long run? In this article we will review the situation.
What is a central heating system?
A central heating system is a set of devices that allows many rooms in a house to be heated by a single heat-producing unit. Basically, heat is produced from this unit which is called a heat generator. It is usually a boiler that will heat water to a specific temperature. The hot water is then distributed throughout the house via a piping system to the appliances installed in each room. The heat from the water is then diffused throughout the house.
Central heating is different from supplementary heating, which consists of a single heating unit serving a single room in the house. This is the case, in particular, for portable electric heaters.
The different central heating systems
There are many central heating systems that differ from each other depending on the energy source used.
– Condensing heating
This is a heating system that uses oil or gas to produce heat. This system is very efficient and offers an interesting return. In fact, it is one of the most common heaters found in Canadian homes. Nevertheless, since the price of gas and fuel oil has risen in recent years, households are gradually looking for more economical alternatives.
– Biomass heating
Biomass heating uses organic fuels such as pellets, forestry chips or logs. Pellets are usually stored in silos, while chips and logs need to be stored in a relatively large dedicated space, especially if you plan to store them in very large quantities. Their main advantage is that they are cheaper than oil, gas and electricity.
– Electric heating
Electric heating is not just for supplemental heating. Indeed, if you wish to use this energy source for your central heating, you have the option of inertia or storage electric radiators. This type of device generates and stores heat during the night and distributes it during the day. This solution is particularly suitable for those who use an off-peak rate for their electricity package.
– The heat pump (PAC)
The heat pump is a heating system that draws heat from its immediate environment. There are two main types of heat pumps, namely the aerothermal heat pump drawing heat from the air and the geothermal heat pump drawing heat from the ground.
– Solar heating
Finally, solar heating is a type of heating that uses solar radiation to produce heat. The most common system is the solar water heater, using solar panels to heat water and distribute it to the home’s bathrooms. Solar heating has an undeniable advantage, which is to use a free and unlimited source of energy. However, in winter, the lack of solar radiation makes this system inefficient.
The different heating devices
As mentioned above, the central heating system uses heat distribution units in the rooms. There are different types:
- The radiators circulate water at a temperature of 40 to 50°C and provide adequate heating for the rooms in which they are installed;
- Convectors draw in cold air, heat it and distribute it throughout the room. The heated air will rise to the ceiling and then fall back down, heating the room more evenly;
- Underfloor heating systems operate at low temperatures. They are discreet and provide a pleasant warmth;
- A wall heater is therefore installed in the wall, which makes it very discreet and saves you space. It works in the same way as underfloor heating;
- A forced-air heater will draw air into a room through return vents. This air will be heated in the heating system before being diffused in the room by a fan.
Is central heating really economical?
First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that a central heating system is much more expensive to purchase and install than any other system, such as a portable electric heater, for example. Indeed, its purchase involves many devices, including the central heat production unit and the devices that will distribute this heat to all rooms in the house. Moreover, its installation is particularly complex, requiring the intervention of a professional, for a relatively high price.
However, in the long run, it is quite possible to save money by opting for a central heating system. But how much you save depends largely on the type of heating you use.
Heating with oil, gas and electricity is less profitable, due to the cost of the fuels used. They are only interesting for heating a small area. Biomass heating is a more economical option, as the price of pellets is far more affordable than the energy sources mentioned above.
Solar heating is even more economical, as the energy source is completely free and renewable. The only small drawback with this type of energy is that it is necessary to consider another auxiliary heating system in winter, since it does not work optimally during this period due to the lack of sunlight.
The heat pump remains the most interesting option, although its purchase and installation costs are among the highest. In the long run, you can make very interesting savings.