What Is the Best Way to Heat My House?

What Is the Best Way to Heat My House?. Choosing the right method to heat your home can be overwhelming. Heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of a typical U.S. home's energy, according to EnergySavers.gov. A variety of technologies are available for heating houses, and they all feature various benefits. When deciding to replace your current heating system, you should consider the limitations your current system imposes before settling on a replacement. Unlike using oil heat or natural gas furnaces to heat your home the conventional way, the best methods to heat your house include those that are environmentally friendly and efficient.

The sun is one source for efficiently heating your house.

Floor Heating

One way to heat your home is to use radiant floor heating. This type of house-heating system uses electric wires or tubes of hot water that are located underneath your home's floor. As a result, thermal radiation from the floor rises and hits objects in your house, which also release this heat. Because the warm air is radiated evenly over the whole floor as it rises, the coolest air in the house actually remains near the ceiling. This is the opposite of how traditional forced-air heating systems work, in which warm air rises and leaves cooler air closer to the floor. The hot-water tubes and electric wires that make radiant floor heating effective actually work under any type of flooring, including hardware or tile. A radiant floor heating system can be up to 30 percent more efficient than conventional heating systems, according to "This Old House."

Geothermal System

Another method for heating your house is to use a geothermal heating system, which features big coils buried in the ground. Because the earth's temperature is much warmer than that of the outside atmosphere, less energy is required to get your house's temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit through the geothermal -- "or earth heat" -- system. The water and antifreeze mixture in the geothermal system's large coils is the same temperature as the earth and runs through your house. Then, a compressor draws heat from the water and antifreeze mix and increases your house's temperature to the one on your thermostat. This method uses less energy than a conventional heating system, which simply attempts to raise the colder outside air temperature to make your home more comfortable.

Pellet Stoves

Using pellet stoves is another effective way to heat your home. These stoves use pellets made from wood chips or sawdust, which are cheaper than fossil fuels, natural gas or chopped wood used in other home heating systems. In addition, the use of pellets causes less pollution. One pellet stove should be enough to heat a home of up to 1,500 square feet, while a larger home might require the use of two stoves.

Solar Heat

Solar heating systems can help heat up your home. You can choose to use a hydronic collector, which heats an antifreeze solution using the sun, or you can use an air collector that heats air. The collectors store solar radiation and transfer the heat to rooms in your home for distribution. These systems actually can supplement conventional forced-air heating systems. Solar heating systems produce fewer greenhouse gases and less pollution than systems that use fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil, and they also can decrease your energy bills, especially in the winter.


  • "This Old House"; Radiant Floor Heating; Joseph D'agnese
  • Finger Lakes Institute: Geothermal Heating and Cooling Introduction
  • EnergySavers: Wood and Pellet Heating
  • EnergySavers: Active Solar Heating
  • EnergySavers: Space Heating and Cooling