heating is an absolute necessity due to extremely cold temperatures at certain times of the year – or even throughout the entire year. Even when it isn’t absolutely necessary, many people heat their homes so they can stay comfortable, or purely out of habit. It isn’t uncommon to see a family walking around their home in shorts and a t-shirt while having the heater on at the same time. Since heating has become expensive due to the fuel needed, it is important to many people that they reduce their heating cost as much as possible. Since electricity is relatively expensive (not to mention environmentally damaging when it is generated[sc:1]), you can reduce your heating costs by reducing your electricity consumption. Some of the ways you can do this include:
Using wood as a fuel for heating
In most rural or semi-rural areas, firewood can be cut or obtained for free. This means that you can reduce your heating costs to next to nothing by using it your main fuel source. You can collect enough wood for a few months in a couple of hours on a weekend, so time is not an issue. It is important to note that certain types of wood are more suitable for burning than others. Hardwood trees will burn hotter for longer, which means that you will consume less fuel. Softwood trees will disappear quickly when burnt, and usually aren’t the best choice[sc:2].
There are a number of different ways you can burn your firewood to generate heat. The best method will depend on the shape and size of your home, along with personal preferences. Some of the things you can use to burn wood include[sc:3]:
- Wood stoves – This is by far the most popular method of heating using wood, and involves installing a simple wood stove at a strategic location within your home. Wood stoves are also extremely versatile, as they can be used to cook, to boil water, and to heat water for washing.
- Fireplaces – The fireplace is the oldest home heating method known to man. Unfortunately, since they are relatively inefficient compared to other heating methods, they aren’t widely used today. However, nothing beats sitting around an open fire on a cold winter’s night!
- Wood furnaces – Wood furnaces are installed outside the home, and typically only need to be refilled once a day. They generate heat, which is then transferred to the home through ventilation ducts[sc:3].
Using heaters and power generators
Many different power and heat generators which run on a range of different fuels are available to warm your home. Most of these rely on burning something and collecting the heat generated. Some of the more popular fuels include:
- Gasoline or Diesel – Yes these both burn extremely well, and can be used to generate heat, but they also release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases when burnt. Since they aren’t renewable resources, they aren’t really a good choice of fuel.
- Biofuels – These are a more renewable source of energy, but are more or less the same as diesel or gasoline.
- Animal Dung – Using animal dung as a fuel to generate heat is the most renewable option. Actually, it is used by millions of people worldwide, even in the modern age of fossil fuels.
- Coal – Coal is the traditional heating fuel, but also releases harmful pollutants, and is not sustainable to use[sc:4].
Using the sun to warm your home
Solar power is becoming more and more popular throughout the world, but relies on the same principles of heating with electricity. Basically, solar panels are mounted on the roof of your house, or somewhere else nearby. These generate electricity, which can be stored in batteries or used immediately. The same heating methods are used as for normal electricity – reverse cycle air conditioners, electric heaters, and other appliances.
Heating with compost
This one of the crazier methods of generating heat, but it works and is absolutely sustainable. The general principle behind this is that compost generates heat when it is decomposing. If you can capture this heat in some way (for example, by running water pipes through your compost heap), then you can use it to warm your home[sc:6].