Modern Tips for Heating Older Homes

If your house is more than 50 years old, its HVAC system may have a little more “character” than some newer homes.

The good news is that, these days, heating older homes can be as easy and efficient as keeping a modern house warm in the winter. Making use of today’s heating technologies can go a long way toward keeping your heating bills down and your family warm during cold weather.

How Your Home is Heated

A lot of older homes are heated with hot water.

If yours is one of them, chances are it relied on gravity to force warm water up from the boiler and cold water back to be heated. Gravity and the different temperatures of the water resulted in a natural convection system that kept the water circulating and being reheated. While this was an excellent way to for heating older homes at the time they were built, it was not always the most efficient.

Eventually, circulating pumps came along, which forced the water to move more quickly through the system. This meant that it wouldn’t have as much time to cool down before it made its way back to the boiler. The less heat the water had lost meant the less energy the boiler would use to reheat the water back to its circulating temperature. Most homes that started with gravity systems were later fitted with circulating pumps.

Your home’s circulating pump is controlled by a thermostat which starts and stops the pump once the air in a room reaches the set temperature. Meanwhile, the temperature of the water from the boiler is pre-set, usually to about 180° F. By today’s standards, though, even a circulating pump alone is not the most efficient. Hot water heating systems contain a lot of water, which must be heated or reheated every time the thermostat triggers the circulating pump. This is inefficient because the pipes in the system contain hot water, which continues to heat the house even after the circulating pump has stopped.

Updating Your Home

A modern solution to this inefficiency is an outdoor-air reset control. The control keeps tabs on the temperature of outside air, adjusting the temperature of the water in the boiler to heat the water only as high as needed for the given day. Because the water is never heated to a temperature above where it is needed, fuel use is at its most efficient.

You could also improve your home’s heating efficiency even more by integrating a modulating-condensing boiler into your HVAC system, which works similarly to an outdoor-reset control, heating only to the degree needed to keep your house at the set temperature. Regardless, even the most efficient controls and boilers will not work to their best capacity unless your home’s windows and doors are properly insulated.

Call the heating pros at Reliable to have your heating system inspected. Our techs will perform an energy audit to evaluate your home’s heating system and recommend ways to improve the system’s efficiency and save you money on your utility bills.

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