Well, it is that time again. The first early morning cold snap has come to Florida. This caused me to think about customer calls wondering why utility bills have risen. The cost to heat a home is actually higher than the cost to cool a home. Fortunately for us here in Florida, heating is a very small percentage, approximately only 8% of our total energy costs. In northern states the cost of heating is their number one energy expense.
I used my energy modeling software*, and modeled a 2,000 square foot home with single pane windows and R-19 insulation in the ceiling. I modeled three different types of heat common in Florida based on setting the heat at 68° to see the difference in cost. Your particular temperature settings, the size of your home, the quality of insulation and windows and your practices can greatly impact these costs. This modeling is in no way implying what your particular heating costs would be but in a perfect world here would be the breakdown.
1) Electric heat pumps are the most economical way to heat but the least comfortable.
The estimated cost for the heating season is estimated to be $81.00. The reason for the low cost is heat pumps do not generate heat, they capture the heat from the air and through the refrigeration process transfer that heat into your home. Often the air coming through your heat supply ducts will only be in the mid 90° range. The colder it is outside the lower the temperature of the air supplied to the home. This is why it often feels like your home is drafty rather than toasty on those cold mornings.
2) A natural gas furnace is the second most economical means of heating your home.
The cost is estimated for the modeled home at $159.00 for the heating season. This is based on a standard efficiency of 80%. The biggest advantage of natural gas is the comfort. Considering we only will need heat for part of four months, you could say for an additional $20.00 per month you can be very comfortable when you need the heat. The reason is a natural gas furnace will supply air between 130-140° allowing you to feel nice and toasty on those cold mornings.
3) The third most expensive type of heat is an electric furnace or electric heat strips as part of your heat pump.
The estimated cost for this type heat is $222.00. The only advantage of this type of heat is the supply air will be warmer than a heat pump but not as warm as natural gas. Heat strips will add an additional 10° to what you would normally get from your heat pump alone. Any heat that is higher than your body temperature is more comfortable than when the temperature is at or lower than your body temperature.
For all your questions concerning heating systems or other energy topics contact your energy experts at Florida Public Utilities. www.fpuc.com/energyexpert
*Modeling was done using EnergyGauge® software on a single-family home in Orlando, FL.