Time for an Energy Switch?
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The "Heating Cost Worksheet" can help you decide if now is the time to switch to a less expensive heating fuel. Check local prices and use the worksheet to see if you will save by changing fuels or by using more than one source of energy. Most heating systems use either combustion fuels (natural gas, propane, oil, or wood) or electricity.
If you're thinking of switching, ask yourself how the heat will be distributed. It's usually most economical to stay with an existing distribution system unless the pipes or ducts need a lot of work. However, homeowners with electric baseboard heating may find that a switch to a central system is worth the investment.
It's possible to have more than one type of heating system, or to integrate solar energy to cut heating bills. In areas where natural gas is not available and electricity rates are high, mixed methods may be particularly appealing, but they are worth considering anywhere. For example, if you're not ready to replace your present system, or if you are building an addition, area heating is a way to avoid the cost of upgrading or extending the system you have. In some homes, area heating with advanced wood stoves, new advanced gas or wood fireplaces, or passive solar can mean using a central system only for backup.
Excerpted with permission from No-Regrets Remodeling by Home Energy (1997)