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Heating your home

I do not pretend to give a lecture here on heating and cooling but we might contemplate to go over a few facts to refresh our memory (including mine).

 

Principles of Heating and Cooling in homes.

To heat and cool your house efficiently, it is important to know how heat transfers to and from objects.

Understanding how heat (o lack of) is transferred from the exterior space into your home and from your home to your body is important for considering the challenge of keeping your house cool or warm. Understanding the processes that help keep your body cool or warm is important in understanding cooling strategies for your home.

 

Principles of Heat Transfer

Heat is transferred to and from bodies such as you and your home via three main processes: conduction, radiation, and convection.

Heat tends to travel from a hot source to a cooler one. Conduction is when heat travels through a solid material. On cold days, heat is conducted from your home through the roof, walls, and windows. Well insulated roofs and energy efficient windows will help to reduce that heat conduction.

Heat can also radiate i.e. heat travels in the form of visible and non-visible light. Sunlight is an obvious source of heat for homes. In addition, low-wavelength, non-visible infrared radiation can carry heat from warm objects to cooler objects. Infrared radiation is why you can feel the heat of a hot burner element on a stovetop, even from across the room. Older windows will allow infrared radiation coming from warm objects inside to radiate out of your home. Newer windows have low-e coatings that block infrared radiation. Infrared radiation will also carry the heat of your walls and ceiling directly to your body.

 

Convection is another form for the heat from your walls and ceiling to reach you. Hot air rises naturally, carrying heat away from your walls and causing it to circulate throughout your home. As the hot air circulates past your skin and you will absorb it i.e. you get warm.

 

Heating Systems.

A diversity of technologies is available for heating your home. The main system here in the Costa are:

Thermal solar panel heating

Uses the sun to heat a liquid and can serve as a supplemental heat source which when used properly can heat the whole house.

Electric Resistance Heating

Among the most expensive if not the most expensive ways to heat a home. Specially here in Spain where we probably have the most expensive electricity in Europe.

Furnaces and Boilers

By far the most common way to heat a home. I include here gas and oil boilers.

Wood and Pellet Heating are now becoming very popular in rural areas where there is plenty of space for storage and for the furnace.

Underfloor heating system

By far the most pleasant system of heating but not the cheapest, although I am told that if combined with a solar panel system can be the best method of home heating.

 

Some heating advices.

Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and lower the set point when you're sleeping or away from home.

Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended.

Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or curtains.

Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.

Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.

Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

During winter, keep the curtains and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Select energy-efficient merchandises when you buy new heating equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. See the efficiency standards for information on minimum ratings, and look for the A rating when purchasing new products.

Provides a way to heat your home using biomass or waste sources.

Radiant Heating

Can draw on a number of energy sources, including electricity, boilers, solar energy, and wood and pellet-fuel heating.

Portable Heaters

 

Less efficient than central heating systems, but can save energy when used appropriately.


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