What is the Most Cost-Effective Heating Option?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Barry in Tennessee on the line who is looking for some unbiased opinions on heating and cooling systems. Tell us what’s going on.
BARRY: Well, my wife and I are in the beginning planning stages of building our home and we are trying to figure out what might be the best option.
BARRY: I mean you’ve got everything from a wood stove to a heat pump; there’s all kinds of choices out there. What might be a good one?
TOM: And we know why you need a new home, because you’ve got some kids in the background to stuff into that new place, huh?
BARRY: I have a two-year-old, sorry.
TOM: That’s OK. That’s OK.
So, let’s talk about fuels first. Do you have natural gas in this location?
BARRY: We have natural gas. We have, of course, heating oil or something of that nature and we have electric.
TOM: Alright. So you have all the choice in the world. So I would suggest that natural gas would be the best way to go, the most cost-effective way to go.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
TOM: In terms of the type of heating system, you have – forced air or hot water would be the two most common types. Forced air is less expensive to install because you have one set of ducts that does both heating and cooling. However, hot water is a more comfortable heat because the heat is moister …
LESLIE: It’s got a moisture to it.
TOM: And it’s also quieter, too. But if you put in a hot-water heat, then you’re also going to have to run a duct system for the air conditioning. So you’re kind of putting in sort of a system-and-a-half.
If you do run hot water, you may want to consider using radiant floors in some of those rooms. There’s a type of plumbing pipe called PEX – P-E-X; it stands for cross-linked polyethylene. And you can run that up under floors so that the entire floor gets warm, which is really pleasant. You know, when you come home – come down in the morning to a cold floor, no more. It’ll all be nice and warm all the time. So that’s a real nice way to heat your house.
And that’s some of the options. But I think you have the opportunity to build a well-insulated house. Use a gas system. I prefer to have hot water if it wasn’t too prohibitively expensive and then take advantage of some of the things that you can do with the PEX piping, which really allows you the flexibility to put heat exactly where you want it.
BARRY: OK, great. One more question that’s associated with that, if I may. The PEX piping, I know that that’s under concrete or some other type of solid floor. What if I’ve got a second floor? Is that still a good option?
TOM: Yeah, because up in the second floor, you could do the same thing with the flooring or you could use radiators. Some folks opt to put radiant floor in a bathroom so that’s nice and warm when you go in there with your bare feet but maybe use a hot-water baseboard elsewhere.
BARRY: OK. Alright. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Barry. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.