Sep 172014

CastilePelletThere are a number of ways to heat your home or business this winter without relying on expensive, unpredictable oil or gas to keep yourself toasty.

Some options, like pellet stoves and wood furnaces, are relatively inexpensive to set up, while others, like geothermal heating systems, have high upfront costs but also long term efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Pellet Stoves and Wood Stoves

Pellet stoves and wood stoves are very similar options for home heating. The difference is that while wood stoves burn wood, pellet stoves burn small pellets of sawdust or switchgrass.


Clocking in at between $1500 and $3000, pellet stoves use renewable resources like switchgrass and waste products like sawdust, and lately newer models can also accommodate corn, wood chips, and nutshells, among other fuel options. These “pellets” are easier to store than wood, and they also emit less CO2 when burned, making pellet stoves more ecologically-friendly than wood stoves. In addition, pellet stoves are more energy efficient, using less fuel to heat the same square footage as wood stoves.

Wood Furnaces

wood stoveA wood furnace is essentially a wood stove that you attach to your existing forced-air ductwork to more efficiently heat the whole house.

Costing roughly the same as a pellet stove, a wood furnace may be a cost-effective option for efficient heating.

Geothermal Systems

geothermal-heating-systems-2The most environmentally-friendly and economically-efficient heating system is a geothermal system. Unlike a traditional forced-air system, which heats up outdoor air to warm a house, geothermal systems are buried below the ground in your yard and use the warmth of the ground as a starting temperature.

A water and anti-freeze mixture circulates through buried coils and into your home, where a compressor extracts the heat to the level at which your thermometer is set. Though a geothermal system requires a big upfront investment, between $8,000 and $15,000, the system pays for itself in five to ten years, and the efficiency is exceptional.


Solar Heating

Solar heating has gotten lots of attention as an alternative heating method. Like geothermal, solar heating is expensive up front, costing $15,000 to $20,000 for a 2000 square-foot home, but cost-effective thereafter.

4818281321_3263269619There are two kinds of solar heating systems, including one that uses solar heat to warm water, and one that uses solar heat to warm air. The one you choose will depend on whether you have a forced-air system or a boiler or radiant heating system. Most systems will also provide some kind of storage system so that you can have heat even when the sun is not shining. Solar heating is highly environmentally-friendly and a renewable source of energy.


Jake Alexander is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @JakeAlexander17.

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