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Comparison Shopping

Comparison Shopping

In this chapter, you'll see at-a-glance tables that summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of widely available energy sources and distribution systems for heating (not including fuel costs, which are dealt with in the charts in the Comparing Energy Costs section). There is also a table comparing the different cooling systems and another for hot water heaters.

Heating Systems Comparison
Type Possible Advantages Possible Disadvantages
Forced Air
  • Rapid heat delivery
  • Compatible with central cooling, air cleaning, ventilation and humidity control
  • Circulates air to each room
  • Duct work expensive as a retrofit
  • Space required for duct work
Hydronic
(hot water)
  • Boiler more compact than forced air furnace
  • Temperature can be regulated from room to room
  • Can provide hot water
  • May have higher installed costs
  • No duct work for central air cooling
Space Heaters
  • Available in a range of models and sizes and choice of fuels
  • convenient for homes with no basement or for heating home additions
  • Moderate installed cost
  • Can provide room to room (zoned) temperature control
  • Will likely require more than one unit to heat house
  • Space heaters not currently regulated for efficiency
  • No duct work for central cooling
     


Energy Source Comparison
Type Possible Advantages Possible Disadvantages
Natural Gas
  • No fuel storage facilities needed
  • Not available in all areas
  • Venting required
Propane
  • Wide range of products available
  • Storage facilities needed for fuel
  • Venting required
Oil
  • Some older units can be upgraded by replacing the burner
  • Space needed for a fuel storage tank
  • Venting required
Wood
  • Renewable resource
  • Can be cost-effective where low-cost wood is available
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Back-up heating
  • Storage area needed for fuel
  • Supplementary heating may be required
  • Requires effort and knowledge
  • Venting required
Electricity
  • No venting needed since there is no combustion
  • Compact heating units
  • No fuel storage facilities needed
  • Likely requires 200-amp electrical service
Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Lower operating cost than electric resistance heat
  • Also provides cooling
  • Requires auxiliary heating source during coldest weather
  • More expensive to purchase than central cooling
  • Noise may disturb neighbours, depending on model and location
Earth Energy Systems
(Ground Source Heat Pumps)
  • Most efficient system
  • Low operating costs
  • Can provide hot water
  • Also provides cooling
  • Typically, highest installed costs
  • Supplementary heating usually needed for extreme temperatures
  • Requires a suitable site for ground or waterloop


Cooling Systems Comparison
Type Possible Advantages Possible Disadvantages
Room Air Conditioning
  • Duct work not required
  • Can target area to be cooled
  • Low installed cost
  • Portable
  • Limited cooling
  • Obstructs window
  • Will likely increase interior noise level (will vary with model)
  • Must be removed or covered in winter to minimize heat loss
Central Air Conditioning
  • Easily added to forced air system to cool and de-humidify whole house
  • Duct work expensive as a retrofit
  • Noise might disturb neighbours, depending on model and location
  • More expensive than room air conditioners
Heat Pump
  • Also provides heating
  • Higher installed costs than central air conditioning
  • Noise might disturb neighbours, depending on model and location
Ceiling Fan
  • Low operating costs
  • Low installed cost
  • No dehumidification
  • No air cooling (occupants cooled by contact with moving air)


Water Heaters Comparison
Type Possible Advantages Possible Disadvantages
Electric
  • No venting needed since there is no combustion
  • Tank can be located almost anywhere
  • Slower recovery time
Earth Energy System
  • Low operating cost
  • Only practical where earth energy system is used for heating
Natural Gas
  • Faster recovery time than electric
  • Natural gas not available in all areas
  • Venting required
Propane
  • Faster recovery time than electric
  • Equipment may be convertible to natural gas
  • Venting required
Oil
  • Fastest recovery time
  • Smaller tank
  • Higher equipment costs
  • Venting required
Solar
  • Renewable energy source
  • No-cost fuel
  • Requires back-up with conventional fuel
  • High equipment costs
Integrated Hot Water Systems
  • Only one system to purchase and maintain for both home and water heating
  • May provide higher water heating efficiency
  • A breakdown may disable both home and water heating

Source: Ontario Ministry of Energy © 2005 Queen's Printer for Ontario

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4616 4 Ave. SE Calgary, AB T2A0A2
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