responsible for a home in one of the colder areas of the world will know just how expensive it can be to stay warm over the winter. Not only are most home heating methods expensive, but they are also terrible for the environment. Most of them involve burning something (gas, wood, or coal to generate electricity), which releases greenhouse gases and contributes massively to global warming¹. Think about some of the following ways of heating your home to save your wallet and reduce the environmental impact of your actions:
Infrared heating panels
Infrared heating panels make use of infrared light to warm you, rather than using the principles of convection in the way most heating systems do. Infrared light (or waves, whatever you want to call it) are able to travel through air until they hit a solid object, which they warm. This includes our bodies, and is actually the reason why you are able to feel warmed by the sun even on the coldest winters day.
If you choose to use infrared heating panels in your home, then consider using them in conjunction with solar panels. If you do this then you will find yourself with a heating system that is both 100% emission free and costs nothing to run! You can place them high on the wall or on the ceiling so that they don’t take up floor space like a traditional radiator would. Some infrared heating panels are even designed to double as a mirror. Imagine that, your bathroom mirror could also become a free heater²!
These are basically the modern cousin of fireplaces, and are both cheap and green. They run on wood pellets made from compacted sawdust or woodchips (or other leftover wood products which would otherwise be discarded) and emit very few greenhouse gases when burnt, relative to any other organic fuel. They are so clean that the Environmental Protection Agency exempts them from smoke emissions testing.
Wood pellets are much more efficient than plain wood or other fossil fuels, and cost very little. The average American household can be heated with between two and three tonnes of pellets per year, which cost between $120 and $200 a tonne. This works out at anything from $240 to $600 per year to heat your entire home – an extremely cheap option! Pellet stoves are also not expensive to install, as they are usually direct vented and therefore require no chimney or other large parts³.
Ensuring your home requires little heat to begin with
If you are building a new home or renovating your existing one, then you need to make sure that you include as much insulation and other heat-proofing capabilities as possible. If you do this, then your home will have very low heating requirements, which means that any heating method is going to be relatively green and cheap. However, if you have low energy requirements then you should be able to use solar power for most, if not all of your heating energy⁴.
The way you connect your solar panels and use their electricity to heat your home is up to you, but there are many options on the market. Infrared panels (discussed above) are becoming popular. You may also choose heat pumps, electric boilers, and standard electric radiators. No matter which heating option you choose, if you are using solar electricity then it is going to be relatively clean and relatively cheap.