If you’re anything like us during the long, frigid winter months, you’re probably constantly toeing the line between cranking up the heater in your home to full blast (if only to pretend you’re on a tropical island) and trying to maintain some semblance of energy efficiency by leaving your thermostat at a respectable (but gosh, not quite warm enough) temp.
But who says you have to choose?
The sad truth is that every heater requires energy. But not all heaters are created equal. Some are far more energy-efficient than other antiquated models. This means that you can run that heater how you want (well, within reason) withoutthe fear of wasting a ton of excess energy (or running up your utility bill, for that matter).
Looking for a warmer, more enjoyable holiday season? a December to remember where you don’thave to wear mittens inside? A cavalier “who cares” attitude when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow and announces six more weeks of winter? Then this post is for you!
Read on for our list of the best energy-efficient heaters on the market!
Let’s Settle This: Should You Buy a Gas Furnace or a Heat Pump?
Before we dive into that glorious list of the best energy-efficient heaters, which is going to save you from a chilly winter and a crazy high energy bill, we need to settle an important question: which is more energy-efficient, a gas furnace or heat pump system?
Before we take a stab at answering that question, let’s describe each of these systems.
Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps, A 101
A gas furnace is a heating mechanism that relies on a fuel source and fan to heat your home. In some cases that fuel source is oil. But for a gas furnace, it’s natural gas. The furnace will burn gas in a combustion chamber, then the resulting hot air will force itself through carefully structured ductwork and into your home with the help of a fan. Because a furnace uses actual flames to create heat, it’s often said that a furnace is likely to blow warmer air than a heat pump.
Which brings us to our next definition. A heat pump is a system that doesn’t use fuel to generate heat. Instead, it cleverly pulls heat from the outside air and gradually warms your home. Think about a heat pump as an air conditioning unit working in reverse. Instead of taking air from outside and cooling it, it takes outside air and reverses its refrigeration cycle to fill your home up with heat!
The Pros & Cons of Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps
So which is more energy-efficient?
Honestly, it depends on where you live, what your winter looks like, and how warm you really need your home to be.
However, while at the end of the day the best choice for you depends on many factors, the general rule of thumb is that heat pumps are the best energy-efficient heaters for your home. Heat pumps are particularly great choices for folks who don’t see intense, long-lasting winters (for that reason, they’re hugely popular for Southeastern United States winters where the winters are mild and short).
That said, though gas furnaces are generally less energy efficient and use older technology, they are great options for people who need to keep their homes at a higher temperature and endure long, intense winters. A furnace is less mechanical, so by default, it’s less likely to break—less maintenance and repairs are a plus from financial and waste material standpoints! In addition, as we mentioned, it’s well-known for spitting out warmer air more quickly, heating up your house in a flash. About 50 percent of homes are still heating up with gas furnaces to this day.
Because each type of heater really does have its own pros and cons, we’ve provided our top three picks of each model!
The Best Energy-Efficient Heaters: Gas Furnaces
If you’ve decided to opt for a reliable, speedy gas furnace, get ready for a warm winter! But the question remains—which of the gas furnaces out there are the most energy-efficient? Here are a few options we think are worth bumping to the top of your list!
The same parent company as Carrier, Day & Night, and Bryant furnaces. So Bryant furnaces offer the same reliable technology, down to the same internal components. They are average-priced furnaces with great reliability, and they are well-known for their high-efficiency features specifically designed to conserve energy and save you money. Some of their furnace models (Bryant Evolution 987M) can offer you a modulating gas furnace that runs at up to 98.3 percent efficiency as measured by the industry metric: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) . Best of all, most of their furnaces are ENERGY STAR certified.
With an impressive AFUE rating of up to 98.7 percent, Rheem’s Prestige Series R98V is all about blowing hot air while keeping energy efficiency at the forefront. This model—along with several other Rheem Furnace models—is ENERGY STAR qualified.
Though Amana furnaces are not always credited as the most energy-efficient furnaces in the room, they do make specific models that ensure energy efficiency is a priority. One of these is the AMVM97 model, a two-stage furnace that runs at up to 98 percent AFUE. Just make sure that if you shop Amana, you’re opting for an energy-efficient model like this one, as their standard models tend to be less than impressive when it comes to energy conservation.
Have another model in mind but you’re not sure if it’s energy-efficient? Check out ENERGY STAR’s certified furnace guide here to double-check the model you’re considering! With this certification in the northern half of the US, you can guarantee the furnace you’re looking at will be up to 15 percent more energy efficient than other baseline models (which can save you an average of $85 yearly). In the southern half of the US, you can count on these certified furnaces to be about 11 percent more efficient than standard models (meaning you can save an average of $30 per year in energy costs).
The Best Energy-Efficient Heaters: Heat Pumps
Heat pumps won you over? Congratulations—you’re about to have a much more comfortable winter while knowing that you are leveraging very energy-efficient technology! But remember, not every heat pump is created equally. Here’s our list of top-performing energy-efficient heat pumps that deserve your attention.
This high-efficiency home heat pump is powered by a two-stage scroll compressor that’s guaranteed to consistently warm your home. The controller (that’s right, heat pumps are fancy, new-age technology that comes with a techy controller!) is a digitally programmable thermostat that features options to prioritize energy-efficiency or comfort. Of course, this heat pump is ENERGY STAR certified.
Don’t be confused by this products listing as an air conditioner. Like most heat pumps, this Lennox can pump both warm and cold air into your home. This model can also control efficiency, humidity, and comfort with a fully communicating platform. A reliable option, this energy-efficient model is ENERGY STAR certified.
Another ENERGY STAR qualified product, this Fujitsu line features is a pump that you can operate via an app on your smartphone (so fancy, right?) for optimal energy efficiency control. Further, this system includes advanced diagnostics with system monitoring, so you can be sure your heat pump is functioning at optimal levels at all times.
PRO TIP: The ENERGY STAR site has a long, long list of options when it comes to energy-efficient heat pumps. If you’re looking to really dig through the list to choose the best heat pump for your home, click here.
You Don’t Have To Freeze This Winter—Just Heat Smarter!
See, it’s not as black-and-white as freeze without heat or waste bundles of energy in the name of warmth. By investing in one of the best energy-efficient heaters, you can strike a balance of conserving energy and saving money while remaining comfortable.
Think we missed a great energy-efficient heater in our list? Have you found the ultimate in terms of the best energy-efficient heaters? We want to hear about it! Drop a line in our comment section and share your heater suggestions with our readers—the more we all know about energy conservation opportunities, the better.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to cut energy costs, conserve more energy in your daily life, or even are seeking out awesome, energy-efficient gift ideas, our blog is where it’s at! Subscribe here to stay in the loop with our regularly updated blog!