heatingYour energy bill isn’t cheap. If you’re moving into your first home and you’ve been living in apartments where energy and water were included in your rent, your first winter electricity bills can come as a big surprise. Your average energy bill without air conditioning or heat could be as little as $30-$50 a month, going into lights, TV, and electronics. Once you add air conditioning or heating, the costs quickly increase.

Depending on how your HVAC system is set up, you may pay both an electricity bill and a gas bill. Gas is often used for heating as it can be cheaper than electricity. Electric heating can quickly become expensive, but you often see it in older homes and apartments. All the more reason to update your HVAC system and keep out the cold in the winter months.

Your heating costs will depend on what kind of heating you have:

Radiator Heating: Radiator-based heating is old and not particularly effective. It can cost you over $300 a month to heat an entire house with radiator heating. If you have electric-powered radiators, you may want to call in an HVAC technician and make the switch to gas or forced-air heating.

Gas or Forced Air: Forced air heating relies on ducts and vents transferring heat produced in a furnace via air. It’s a more modern type of heating common in North America, and it costs around $100 a month to heat a house, although these rates are highly dependent on where you live, as different states and provinces often have different energy costs.

Making the switch from radiators to forced air will require the help of a professional HVAC technician to install a furnace, ducts, and vents. It can be quite the undertaking, but you should save considerably on your monthly heating bills. While some argue that steam or hot water radiators are actually more efficient than forced air, the biggest problem with radiators is spreading heat to those areas that experience greatest heat loss, such as windows and doors. If you’ve ever stood by the window in the middle of winter in a house with radiator heating, you can feel how cold it is by the sill.

In some cases, switching to forced air will make the house more comfortable, though it may also be a smart idea to improve insulation in your home or upgrade your windows. Of course, if you’re making the move to forced air, you’ll be relying on a furnace which requires the knowledge of a professional. Talk to an HVAC technician before you wade into the radiator vs. forced air debate. If you’re having issues, professionals can also help you decide if you should repair your furnace instead of replacing it. Forced air is more expensive to install and buy at first but can save you money in the long run. In some cases, radiators can be cost effective, but without additional home renovations such as new windows and insulation, they can’t guarantee the kind of comfortable temperatures that forced air is known for. When you make the switch, you will have to switch from a boiler to a furnace.

Ask around when it comes to HVAC renovations. Make sure you get several quotes and opinions from different technicians and companies before you decide which way to go. Always get a professional opinion before you invest in home renovations.

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