DIY Network

Heating Your Home: Alternative Options

Blueprint for Home Building host Jeff Wilson discusses how to supplement your heating system for specific rooms to create a particular kind of ambience.

More in Electrical

There are many ways to supplement your central heating system, but one of the most common is to use a fireplace to gain additional heat in your home.

Fireplaces are good as an extra heat source. Let's say it runs on gas. If you have a power outage in the winter, you can get a lot of warm air from the fireplace. In fact, if you have the luxury to plan ahead, putting fireplaces in key places and using them as zone heating devices is a tremendous benefit to you. The fireplace would produce an efficient heat, and the concept is to heat the areas that you are living in rather than heating the whole house with a central heating system.

Other Benefits to Having a Fireplace

Whether you use a wood-burning or gas unit, a fireplace is a great way to add heat to your home, but adding heat isn't the only benefit a fireplace provides:

  • Adding ambience to your home is another key benefit to having a fireplace.
  • Another big advantage to adding multiple fireplaces to your home is that they can -- if you live in a mild climate -- replace the need for a centralized heating system.

Note: Like the rest of your heating system, fireplaces should be installed by qualified, licensed technicians who specialize in this kind of installation.

Selecting fireplaces early in the building process will enable the home builder to match the HVAC requirements. Note that fireplaces are tested to the same standards as the central furnace system.

Which Type of Fireplace is Best for Your Home?

Of the two choices -- wood burning or gas -- both provide the same qualities of additional heat to your home; however, a gas fireplace will be more efficient in the long term. It used to be that fireplaces were started early in the morning and kept going all day, but now homeowners aren't in the house all day, so you can walk in, flip a switch on a gas furnace and it's instant heat. It's instant efficiency.

Rooms That are Hard to Heat

Speaking of efficiency, how do you handle those rooms in your new home that are hard to heat because they have an abundance of exterior doors and windows?

Localized space heating does a great job of providing an alternative heating option for just those places. A small localized space heater can be used to heat a problem area where a person is cold -- yet the whole home doesn’t' need to be heated. Normally for a residential application, a space heater will be a regular appliance that plugs into a regular 110-volt outlet, and it will have a thermostat usually. It will heat the room without heating the rest of the house.

Some places where you might consider using a space heater to warm things up are a den, a back patio or a bathroom.

Constructive Advice: Be careful when using space heaters to warm your home. Although small, electric or gas space heaters operate at extremely high temperatures. They should never be left unattended. Remember, a space heater is just that -- it heats a small amount of space. So take care not to use it in place of a centralized heating system.

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