Energy-Efficient Space Heating and Cooling

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Energy-Efficient Space Heating and Cooling

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Properly heating and cooling your home is one of the most important things you can do to improve energy efficnency. This is because over 44% of the average utility bill is for heating and cooling costs.


Tips for reducing air conditioning costs.

Questions to ask when purchasing a new air conditioner. Does the air conditioner...


One of the best and easiest ways to lower your heating cost is to simply lower the temperature in your home. If you put on a little more clothes, you can save a substantial amount of money by simply keeping your house 5-10 degrees cooler.

If you wish to do more than simply lower the heat in your hose, consider making some calculations. Below is a formula that will help you calculate energy cost. To use the formula, use a decimal for the appliance heating efficiency (which is obtained from the first table below). In addition, you need to convert the Btu content of the fuel per unit to millions of Btu by dividing the fuel's Btu content per unit by 1,000,000. For example: 3,413 Btu/kWh (electricity) divided by 1,000,000 = 0.003413. The formula:

Energy cost ($ per million Btu) = Cost per unit of fuel [ Fuel energy content (in millions Btu per unit) Heating system efficiency (in decimal).]
For example:
Propane (in medium efficiency central heating system) heat cost = $1.09 (price per gallon) [ 0.0913 0.85 (efficiency) ] = $14.05 per million Btu.

Below is a table of estimated average fuel conversion efficiency of common heating appliances.
Fuel Type Efficiency (%)
Coal (bituminous)
Central heating, hand-fired 45.0
Central heating, stoker-fired 60.0
Water heating, pot stove (50 gal.) 14.5
High efficiency central heating 89.0
Typical central heating 80.0
Water heater (50 gal.) 59.5
High efficiency central furnace 97.0
Typical central boiler 85.0
Minimum efficiency central furnace 78.0
Room heater, unvented 99.0
Room heater, vented 65.0
Water heater (50 gal.) 62.0
Baseboard, resistance 99.0
Central heating, forced air 97.0
Central heating, heat pump 200+
Ground source heat pump 300+
Water heaters (50 gal.) 97.0
Wood & Pellets
Franklin stoves 30.0 - 40.0
Stoves with circulating fans 40.0 - 70.0
Catalytic stoves 65.0 - 75.0
Pellet stoves 85.0 - 90.0

To consider energy efficnency, you need to consider the heat content of different types of fuel. Below is a table of average Btu values for different types of heating fuels.
Fuel Type No. of Btu*/Unit
Fuel Oil (No. 2) 140,000/gallon
Electricity 3,412/kWh
Natural Gas 1,025,000/thousand cubic feet
Propane 91,330/gallon
Wood (air dried) 20,000,000/cord or 8,000/pound
Pellets (for pellet stoves; premium) 16,500,000/ton
Kerosene 135,000/gallon
Coal 28,000,000/ton

*The British thermal unit (Btu) is the most commonly used value for expressing the energy value or heat content of a fuel in the United States. One million Btu is the heat equivalent of approximately 7 gallons of No. 2 heating oil or kerosene, 293 kWh of electricity, 976 cubic feet of natural gas, 11 gallons of propane, 125 pounds of air-dried wood, 121 pounds of pellets, or 71 pounds of coal.

Alternative types of heating:

Credits: US Department of Energy (

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