Home Tips & Advice

Heating, Cooling and Energy Efficiency

Heat must be generated from a fuel source-coal, wood, electricity, gas, etc. It must then be transferred to the objects or areas to be heated. This happens in a combination of three ways, with one predominating.

Conduction heat moves from warmer to cooler areas through another material, such as glass or metal. Convection heat moves as part of another substance, such as air or water. Radiation energy is collected and emitted as heat from one surface to be absorbed by another, such as from a hot stove surface to a human being.

Cooling a home involves drawing warm air outside and dissipating it. Many consumers purchase alternate heating appliances-including wood-burning stoves, kerosene heaters and electric space heaters-to supplement their central heating system. Homeowners may also use zone heating, in which unused portions of the home are shut off and only the spaces in use are heated.

Depending on climate and energy costs for the central system, many homeowners have found that alternate heating methods do provide substantial savings on their energy costs.

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are common alternate heat sources, but their energy efficiency must be considered. Energy efficiency is defined as the percentage of energy generated by a heat source that is converted into usable heat.

According to The Wood-burners Encyclopedia, stoves average 40-65 percent energy efficiency. Standard masonry fireplaces average 5 to 15 percent energy efficiency when burning, and -5- (a 5 percent heat loss)10 percent energy efficiency if the fire is dying out and the damper is open.

More recent developments in fireplace construction are improving these energy efficiency ratings. In addition, there are heat-recovery items such as heat extractors, heat exchangers and glass enclosures that aid energy efficiency.

Likewise, in the summer, consumers buy alternate cooling methods such as floor and window fans, ventilators and attic fans to supplement or reduce the burden on central air conditioning.

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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