Homeowners heating their homes this winter will likely stick with the heating system that is already present in a home. Read on to learn how heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces work to become more familiar with installed heating systems.
A heat pump is a heating system that uses minimal amounts of energy in order to get heat from one location to another. Copper coils are used to take air from the outside, and heat from the air that enters the coils is extracted with a refrigerant. The system then forces the heated air to condense into a liquid that heats up the home.
These systems can heat a home effectively and efficiently with temperatures as low as 20 degrees or less outside without using any back-up heat.
There is no energy expenditure involved for the heating of the air. A heat pump is essentially a method of transporting hot air from one location to another, so the use of energy involved with the system is kept minimal. This means that costs are kept under control because there is no need for oil or other costly fuel sources.
Oil-fired furnaces utilize oil or biodiesel that is piped into a home from a storage tank as a fuel source. The furnace is connected to a thermostat that controls when the furnace is turned on. The temperature setting on the thermostat triggers the furnace to switch on when the temperature in the home falls below a certain point.
Oil is then pumped into a combustion chamber and mixed with air to form the perfect combination for heating a building. The fuel is then ignited in the combustion chamber, and the flue gas heats what is called a heat exchanger, and this exchanger is used to transfer heat throughout the home.
This method of heating a home can be efficient, but a homeowner needs to understand just how efficient their furnace is to determine if it is working properly. A measurement known as the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) determines how efficiently an oil-fired furnace is working. This number determines how much oil is used for heating the home and how much energy from the burning of fuel is lost through the chimney.
Homeowners should note that this number only takes into account energy lost through the chimney. Energy that is lost anywhere else will not be reflected in a furnace’s AFUE.
While total energy consumption is an important factor related to heaters, homeowners should be aware that efficiency is often even more significant.