Alternative Home Heat Choices

As energy prices continue to be high, and winter approaches more quickly than we realize, there are many media reports about people looking at alternative home heating choices.

Boulder has always been a hot-bed for alternatives. Yeah sure, alternative lifestyle is one of them, but I’m talking about practical alternatives. Locals in Boulder, and elsewhere in Colorado, have been exploring solutions such as passive solar, active solar, wind and even wood or pellet stoves for years.

Many homes in the foothills and mountains have used propane to fuel the home utilities in those areas for years. As an adjunct to propane due to the high cost and delivery issues, an amazing volume of home heating also has traditionally come from wood, coal and pellet stoves. I can recall many occasions in the last 10 to 20 years going into McGuckin’s hardware on a snowy day to feel the warm glow of a pellet stove on display, and in use at their store in the Village Shopping Center in central Boulder.

Now it seems that even in cold weather states like New York, and several New England communities, the sales of word-burning stoves are growing rapidly. Similar heating appliances that even burn things such as corn or fruit pits are flying off the shelves and creating a backlog for dealers and manufacturers.

Another interesting trend in the northeastern U.S. is a switch from home heating oil, which has risen sharply in cost, over to natural gas. Heating oil, while basically unheard of in our western region, is pretty common ‘back east’.

As many homeowners anticipate home heating bills for one season to be upwards of $3000 to $4000, the switch to natural gas seems to make sense. Although it’s expensive to make the conversion, which can include running a gas line, and modifying or replacing a furnace at the current high prices of oil, the conversion can potentially pay off in a few years.

Lucky for us out west, an increasingly viable alternative to conventional fuel sources like heating oil, or even natural gas is solar energy.

If you want to learn more about alternative energy opportunities for your home, and how to save money and increase your comfort level, please let me know so I can invite you to one of my upcoming community workshops. We have an energy workshop scheduled for late September that will have lots of answers for you.

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