Controlling the Cost of Home Heating - Helpful Tips
The purpose of this article is to take the mystery out of heating system terminology and provide the information necessary to choose the most appropriate heating system for an individual home.
In general terms, heating systems convert a fuel or energy into heat. The conversion takes place in one or more locations within the house and the heat produced is distributed throughout. In the heating industry most manufacturers and installers measure heat output/requirements in one of the following ways:
BTU is short for British Thermal Unit and refers to the heating power of an appliance, measured by the amount of energy it produces in an hour.
A Watt is the Metric system for measuring heat and all boiler outputs are measured in Kilowatts(Kw)
I W = 3.412 Btu's/hr
1 Kw = 3,412 Btu's/hr
1 BTU/hr = 0.293 W
In short, if a boiler is advertised as having heat output of 14KW, then by multiplying it by 3.412 you get 47,000 BTU's which is sufficient on average to heat 8-10 standard radiators in your home. However, this does not take into account the size of rooms, insulation levels or efficiency of heating system.
Calculate heat loss requirements of your own home
A simple 'rule of thumb' to calculate the heating requirements for your home is as follows:
Take each room separately and work out in feet the length x breadth x height
Example 1: Living room is 20 Feet Long x 15 Feet Wide x 8 Foot high Ceilings so the cubic capacity for the room is 24003
In order to get the BTU/hr or heat requirements of each room, multiply them by a factor of 5 for living room areas and 4 for bedroom areas. (This is an accepted method of calculation in the Building Industry).
Example 2: Living Room = 2400 x 5 = 12,000 BTU/hr or 3- 4KW output
Now determine the home's heating requirements.
Living Room - 12,000
Kitchen - 12,000
Bedroom 1 - 6,200
Bedroom 2 - 5,500
Bedroom 3 - 3,400
Hot Water - 10,000*
Total = 49,100 BTU/hr
1. Generally allow 10,000 BTU/hr for hot water. This will depend on the size of house, number of showers, baths, hot water taps etc.
2. Provisions should be made for independent control in zones requiring different temperatures such as in sleeping and living areas.
1. Level of insulation in the house
2. Efficiency of the heating system.
3. Temperature levels maintained
4. Weather Conditions
While the cubic capacity of each room has huge implications for the size of heat-generating product needed, the most suitable fuel sources must be considered in terms of cost and availability.
Fuel Calorific Content and Cost
The Calorific Value (CV) of fuel is the amount of potential heat available from the fuel when burnt. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland produces quarterly tables that compare heating costs. Check out their website at http://www.seai.ie/Power_of_One/Fuel_Cost_Comparisons/ for the latest 'Comparison of Useful Energy Costs for Space Heating'.
Heating accounts for anything up to 70% of energy bills but without adequate insulation, much of that energy is being wasted. Insulation of attics or roofs, foundations or floors, windows and walls all prove cost effective.
Efficiency of Heating System
Not all the energy available in fuel is usable heat in the home. Energy is lost in both the conversion and distribution processes. There are a number of efficiency measures to allow useful comparisons to be made between heating systems.
The three main types of heating efficiency are combustion, which measures a system's efficiency when operational; steady-state, which measures efficiency after the heating system has been operating for a period of time and the efficiency when the heating system is in steady-state operation; and seasonal which is a more accurate estimation of fuel use as it measures the Annual Fuel Utilisation (AFU) and accounts for start-up, cool-down and other operating losses that occur under normal operating conditions.
When building a new home, or replacing an existing heating system, all available options should be considered as each heating system has its own advantages and limitations. For optimum savings, a heating system should have a high efficiency rating and a home should be adequately insulated with zoning and independent thermostat controls in each room.
Costs will be saved if an older heating system is replaced with a higher efficiency heating system. Once the energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money saved- and the annual savings will increase if energy prices go up, while regular maintenance and servicing will keep a heating system operating at peak efficiency.
Waterford Stanley provides a Home heating consultancy service at no extra cost. This service is ideal for anyone building a new home, planning a kitchen makeover or looking for a home heating solution. Simply send a set of house plans or details of the renovations to Waterford Stanley and the Stanley heating consultant will calculate heating and plumbing requirements specific to each individual within just 28 days.