If you, like most people, have a natural gas powered heating system, then you might not be aware that there are a wide variety of other systems available that could save you money over the long run. Although gas is by far the most used central heating system, as natural gas prices increase some people might be looking for an alternative. In this article, we'll examine a few of these natural gas alternatives and talk about the cost of implementation and maintenance to see if they are worthy alternatives or just a waste of money.
One alternative to natural gas is called a geothermal heat pump, which uses below ground (sub-terranean) cooled and heated fluid to circulate climate controlled air throughout your house. Although the initial investment is quite significant, you can expect to maintain this system with little to no maintenance for up to 25 years. You can most likely recoup your initial cost with 5-10 years, meaning that you will get free heat and air for the rest of the time.
Active solar lighting, as opposed to passive, which is nothing more than sunlight, can also be a good way to supplement natural gas in your home. However, you may face issues if you have a strict homeowners association or receive little sunlight in your area. A side benefit to these systems is that you can actually get paid for putting power back on the grid. However, these systems can also cost upwards of $20,000 and are not able to fully replace a natural gas heating system, making them a non-viable option for most homeowners.
You can always use a wood burning stove to help snuff out some of the costs of natural gas for a price far less than the more expensive heat pumps and solar systems. Wood burning stoves can be purchased for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and the only continual cost will be firewood, which is fairly inexpensive. A cord of wood costs approximately $200 and can be used for most of the winter. Although I don't recommend replacing natural gas entirely with a wood burning stove, you can cut your energy costs significantly by installing one.
Pellet burning stoves have also emerged as a viable alternative, but many people don't even know that they exist. They burn cleaner than wood stoves and emit more efficient heat, making the maintenance of keeping fuel sources handy cheaper than ever. Although they cost a few thousand dollars, you can recoup that cost within several years by cutting back on natural gas. On average, a year of pellet bags cost around $120-$200, which in some cases is the price of a single month of natural gas.
As you can see, you don't have to be stuck with the costs of natural gas forever. Although most of these systems require a significant upfront investment, over time you will recoup costs and start saving money. No one likes to be taken advantage of during the winter seasons, so try looking into one of these alternatives so that you can be prepared ahead of time.
This article posted Jan 17, 2009.
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