Household heating is an important part of the infrastructure to all houses. Even in the south, where the winters are mild, homes are likely to need heating for part of the year. So what are the options for household heating? We are going to look briefly at 3 types: electrical resistance heating, furnace heating, and heat pumps.

Electrical resistance heating is almost 100% effective in turning electricity into heat; that being said, the electricity used must be generated through the burning of fuels at power plants, and then transported to the heating system in a home. This process is usually only around 30% effective. Thus, electrical resistance heating is used more often in places that don’t require extensive heating for long periods of time. For places with greater heating demands, furnaces are usually more efficient.

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil or gas in heating a household. The older models were around 50% efficient (meaning 50% of the heat generated through the burning of the fuel is used in the heating of the house; the rest is lost). Newer furnace models are up to 98% efficient. In places with colder climates, furnaces are generally preferred for the heating of a building, be it residential or commercial.

Heat pumps are the third option for heating (and, in this case, cooling) your household. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat against its natural flow from a warmer place to a colder place. In the winter, for example, a heat pump would move any warmth from the cold outside to the warmer inside. They do not generate heat but only move it. Heat pumps are usually used for heating in more moderate climates and can be 30-40% more efficient than an electrical resistance heater.