What's the best heating option for your climate?
Climate variation across the U.S. is easiest to track in broad strokes. As a U.S. Department of Agriculture map of average annual extreme minimum temperatures shows, individual states can vary in lows with 15 or more degree differences.
As a result, picking the right heating option for your climate can be tricky, and you may want to discuss your options with an HVAC service before settling on an energy efficient choice. Most of the U.S. is a temperate climate, but according to Energy Star, the majority of the American Deep South falls into climate zones 1 to 3, which are categorized as hot climates. The rest of the U.S. - with the exception of California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, which fall into varying measurements - are within climate zones 4 to 8 - mixed and cold climates.
Based on this breakdown, the following heating options are the best choices for homeowners seeking energy efficiency.
For hot climates, Energy Star recommends gas furnaces with an annual fuel utilization efficiency, often called AFUE, of 80. Boilers and oil furnaces have the same recommended AFUE. For heat pumps, homeowners should seek out Energy Star-qualified brands with seasonal energy efficiency ratios (SEER) of 14.5, energy efficiency ratios (EER) of 12 or a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of 8.2.
Mixed and cold climates
U.S. states with mixed and cold climates have slightly different recommendations. Energy Star suggested that gas furnaces have an AFUE of 90, while boilers and oil furnaces have AFUEs of 85. Depending on temperature extremes, heat pumps aren't as popular in northern states.
Making the most of your heat, in any climate
Whatever climate zone you're in, making the most of your heating is a matter of improving your home's energy efficiency. Giving your house, apartment or condo an energy checkup can make a huge difference in your savings. Get in touch with your utilities company and request a local auditor to come by to give your home a professional inspection - the utilities company might even foot the bill.
The auditor will check for leaks, look at your home's insulation, examine your furnaces and ductwork and perform a few tests most homeowners can't do on their own, including conducting an inspection with an infrared camera. Once the auditor has filled you in on what needs fixing up, make sure you give your HVAC service team a call.