Electrify Your Space Heating
In short, if you don’t already have one, get an electric heat pump to replace your current heating system. The latest models even work in freezing climates like Maine and Northern Europe — if they can work there, they can work anywhere!
Heat pumps are incredibly efficient because they move heat to where it’s needed, as opposed to generating heat directly. It’s like a refrigerator, but in reverse. Some heat pumps can even double as air conditioners, so consider one of these units when it comes time to replace your A/C. As an added bonus, heat pumps are also inexpensive to run and do not require a lot of maintenance. They also don't poison your air with carbon monoxide.
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Why It Matters
If you’re like most people, this will likely be the most expensive and difficult step in electrifying your home. Because of the high up front cost, this also means that you likely won’t see massive energy savings over time, even as renewables become cheaper. That’s the bad news.
The good news is there are plenty of benefits to electrifying your heating: you’ll have a more comfortable, quieter, healthy, and more durable home. Plus, you won’t be directly contributing to climate change when you turn up the thermostat.
Finding the right heat pump for your specific situation can be tricky, particularly in older homes. It may also require adding insulation and more effectively sealing your home from drafts. If you’re in a warmer climate, you’ll likely have an easier time of it, but it is still a substantial project.
Depending on your situation, a good option could be a mini-split heat pump. They are easy to install into an existing home, and are great for heating a specific room. But if you don’t upgrade your insulation, you’ll likely still have to use your existing heater. Mini-split systems are a good supplement without an entire home renovation.
Before committing to upgrading your home’s heating, one home electrification expert suggests you should ask yourself these questions:
- Are parts of your house uncomfortable or sticky during summer? Is your upstairs warmer than your downstairs? Is any room noticeably warmer than the rest of the house? Is it sometimes hard to fall asleep because you’re too hot?
- Are parts of your house uncomfortable or dry during winter? Is one room colder than the rest of the house? Do you stop using it altogether in the winter? Do you need a blanket when watching TV? Do you use a lot of lotion because your skin dries out?
- Does anyone in your family have health issues such as allergies or asthma? Is anyone sensitive to pollen, mold, dust, or wildfire smoke? Outdoor allergies shouldn’t persist once you’re inside your home.
- Does your home have durability or moisture issues? This includes mold or mildew in the attic, basement, or crawlspace; overflowing gutters; standing water against the foundation; rotted wood; pests like termites, ants, stink bugs, and mice, etc.
If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, your home may be a good candidate for a full efficiency and performance renovation.
The reality is that replacing your existing heating system the right way (so you can properly address the issues above) is complex. It’s not hard, but it needs to be done by a professional — you can’t just swap out your furnace with an electric heat pump and expect to see good results.
Many conventional HVAC contractors are not familiar with the latest developments in home electrification and may even try to talk you out of it — don’t let them!
Disclaimer: The above advice is designed to act as guidance only. It should not be taken as expert advice. Please consult a own home renovation professional before pursing any home remodeling project.