It’s winter and for those who live in colder climates that means higher energy bills. According to an article in USA TODAY, winter heating costs are expected to average 10.5% higher in 2017, and in most residences, represent the highest household cost.

Think—and Heat Differently.

Think and Heat Differently in text imageryBy far, the most popular way to heat a home is with a furnace or boiler. Furnaces heat air and distribute it through the house using ducts. Boilers heat water, which is delivered through baseboard radiators or a radiant floor system, or heat air through a coil.

But what if you wanted to explore alternative ways to keep warm and cozy in your home? Well, the good news is there are plenty of choices at hand.

Which System Is Best for You?

Heat pumps in text imageryHeat pumps—Heat pumps move heat instead of generating it. They use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, so the cool space is cooler and the warm space is warmer. In the winter, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house. Conversely, in the summer, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors.

Solar Energy in text imagerySolar Energy—As its name implies, active solar heating uses the natural energy from the sun to heat either liquid or gas, and then transfers this solar heat to a storage system for later use.

Electric Resistance Heating in text imageryElectric Resistance Heating—This system is 100 percent energy-efficient because it converts all the incoming electric energy into heat. But it is also among the costliest, because most of the electricity is generated from coal, gas, or oil, which has a fuel-to-electricity conversion rate of only about 30 percent.

Wood and Pellet Heating in text imageryWood and Pellet Heating—Today’s generation of wood- and pellet-burning appliances are more efficient and powerful enough to heat most average-sized homes. They also burn cleaner.

Steam and Hot Water Radiators in text imagerySteam and Hot Water Radiators—Steam radiators are one of the oldest heating systems around. However, the process of boiling and condensing liquid into heat is not as efficient as more modern-day systems. Hot water radiators are very popular in newer homes. The most common types are baseboard or upright style.

Radiant Heating in text imageryRadiant Heating—Radiant heating systems deliver heat directly from a hot surface to people and objects in the room through infrared radiation. If you have ever felt heat from across the room from a stove top, you’ve experienced radiant heating.

Portable Heaters in text imageryPortable Heaters—When you need to supplement an inadequate heating system or central heat is cost prohibitive, portable heaters are a good alternative, especially if you only need to heat one room. Take safety considerations when purchasing one by making sure it:

  • Is a newer one with the most current safety features
  • Carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label
  • Is thermostatically controlled
  • Is properly sized for the room; not oversized
  • Is located on a flat surface, away from high traffic areas, children, and pets

Here are some more energy-efficiency tips.