LESLIE: Martha in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARTHA: I am calling because we moved into the house my dad built and we have no furnace. We have two fireplaces …
TOM: Martha, were you very cold growing up?
MARTHA: (chuckling) Yes. (Tom laughs) Yes, I used to scrape the ice off the bathroom window every morning. So, yes, it was very nice. But we currently heat with wood stoves…
MARTHA: … and I’m a little too old to chop wood anymore and I’m thinking about adding some sort of heating. But my question is, you know, is forced air – we have just a small basement. We have – some of the house is on crawlspace; some of it’s on cement slab.
MARTHA: We have the perfect Heinz 57 house and wondering how to heat it efficiently. You know, is electricity better because we could do solar panels or wind turbines in the future or …
TOM: What fuel choices do you have? Is it possible to get natural gas to the house?
MARTHA: No, I haven’t looked into that. That’s …
MARTHA: … another thing I’ve just been hearing about.
LESLIE: You know, Martha, you should find out – I know you mentioned solar and you mentioned wind turbines. You should find out who the local heating and cooling provider is for your community where you live and see if they do offer solar or wind power and find out if you added your own solar panels, could you potentially operate off the grid, which would mean you would generate enough solar power that it sort of feeds back to the main system.
Because some of the service providers, you know, they offer wind or solar power but in a very limited scale because the demand is sort of just growing now and they’re not at a point where they can meet it yet. So it might be something that you want to ask them to find out what the potential is for your neck of the woods but it might not be something that’s viable right now.
TOM: And regardless of how you actually get that energy, you still have to answer the core question which is what kind of heating system do I want to put in? So your first choice would be natural gas; perhaps propane or oil would be the second and third choices. If none of those are available then I would think about putting in a heat pump system but I would put in a ground source heat pump, which is going to be the least expensive for you to operate.