San Diego locals benefit from a warm and comfortable climate. Although the dry, cloudless summers can generate some almost unbearable heat – making reliable air conditioning crucial – San Diego isn’t immune to the cold. Despite the common images of sunbathed shores and blue skies all year round, the county is susceptible to cold seasons between November and April – forcing homeowners to reconsider their heating options.
Today, air conditioning and heating solutions are the most significant energy users throughout the home and office space, making up around 75% of your utility bill. With costs like that to think about, it’s crucial to seek out the most efficient unit for your particular needs. This means thinking about the size, type, and brand of heater that is right for you.
Making the Right Choice
As with any important purchase, making the right choice means educating yourself about the options available. At present within the United States, the most common fuel for home heating is natural gas – used in around 57% of American homes. On the other hand, space heating is the most significant energy expense in U.S. homes, accounting for about 45% of energy bills. When selecting your heating system, you will need to think about a number of relevant factors, including:
Standard Forced Air Furnaces
Forced air systems heat most homes in San Diego, as they are less expensive to install and more efficient. The systems connect to ductwork that distributes heat throughout the property. A significant benefit of forced air furnaces is their ability to run alongside central air conditioning for a complete cooling system. Depending on where you install your forced air furnace, and the air flow that you desire, you’ll have three options to choose from:
- Horizontal flow: usually installed in crawl spaces and attics horizontally – they blow air out of the side.
- Down flow: installed in closets – they blow air downwards.
- Up flow: installed in closets or basements – they blow air upwards.
If you’re building a home from scratch, any of these variations may work for you, but if you’re replacing an older furnace then you’ll need to select an option with the same orientation as your previous furnace.
Split-System Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are less common, however this could be down to the fact that the technology is newer. Heat pumps operate completely on electricity, and are often low-cost ways of heating a home. Heat pumps don’t require a great deal of retrofitting. They work as central air conditioners for cooling in the summer, and run backwards in the winter to offer heating. The split-system heating pump comes with a pump fitted outside in the yard – as well as an air handler within the home that distributes air throughout the ductwork.
Because heat pumps work well in warmer regions of the country, they’re an excellent choice for those living in Southern California who want access to heating and air conditioning in one solution.
Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems
There is another system that gives you both heating and air conditioning capabilities, but eliminates the need for ducts. Ductless heating and cooling systems use “heads” which are mounted high up on the wall of the desired room, and then connected to the central outside unit with a refrigerant line. This system offers zonal heating and cooling, and each head unit can be controlled independently.
While this system has a higher price point than the two options above, it offers huge saving potential in the long run because it uses 25-50% less energy than the traditional forced air furnace. With the ability to set temperatures by room, the elimination of leaky ducts, and a life expectancy of over 20 years, this system will ultimately pay for itself. Here are a few scenarios in which ductless systems are best used in a California home:
- Replace an already installed zonal heating system
- Install in rooms that have been added on to avoid having to extend ductwork
- Install in an entire home that is newly constructed (sometimes this calls for 2 or more systems so you can limit the length of the refrigerant cord – depending on the size of the home)
Finding the Perfect Temperature
The choice of which heating system is appropriate for you will be one that you make according to the internal aspects of your home, your personal preferences, and your heating goals. The amount of options available may seem overwhelming – especially since you might make this decision only once or twice in a lifetime – but if you do your homework, you should find that the choice is easier than you think.
What is your preferred heating system of choice? Do you think you’d consider changing to something new in the future?