Space heating with Natural Gas
Now that Old Man Winter has breezed into town, it’s more important than ever to make sure your home can keep him at bay. While central heating is a great way to heat up the whole house, there’s also something to be said for a more targeted approach to staying warm. There are plenty of advantages to natural gas space heating.
Space heating can help homeowners get the most out of those non-central spaces like garages, basements, and sunrooms. It is inefficient to heat a basement centrally, for example. “Many people try to heat a basement from their central furnace because that's a simple way to do it,” said Jeff Oliver, National Heating Solutions Manager at Rinnai America Corporation. “But . . . the basement is a completely different environment, so a form of space heat would allow you to centralize the thermostat and the source of heat in that space.”
Sunrooms are also unique environments, usually requiring less heating than the main house. Garages, for their part, should be heated to according to how they will be used. “With space heat, a lot for the determining factor is how you want to use that space,” said Oliver.
As to which kind of space heater will work best, it depends on the type of space and the BTU need of the space. An electric space heater, for instance, probably can’t heat a big basement or garage.
Oliver recommends the Rinnai wall furnace, a fully modulating gas furnace, which some people use as a supplemental heater to their main living space. A much more expensive option is a modulating central furnace with a zoned system.
Any kind of modulating gas-fired unit will create a more comfortable environment than an electric space heating solution. Electric heaters’ main advantage is the lower initial cost. However, gas heaters offer a lower cost of operation over time.
Drying with Natural Gas
The relative advantages of gas clothes dryers are not a frequent topic of discussion. Many might not even realize that clothes dryers can use gas heat. Well, listen up: these are a great option for many reasons.
The drying process is the same for gas and electric dryers—a fan directs fresh air over a heating unit and then pumps it into the drum where the clothes are tumbled. In a gas dryer, this heater is (ideally) a thermostatically controlled gas burner with pilotless ignition and automatic shutoff.
While the difference between gas and electric drying might seem minor considering that the rest of the dryers’ functions are the same, using gas can save you energy and money. The instantaneous heat produced by gas means faster and more efficient drying. Dryer efficiency is measured in pounds of clothing per kilowatt-hour of electricity, with the minimum energy factor of a standard sized electric dryer clocking in at 3.01. Gas dryers’ minimum energy factor is 2.67.
Using a gas dryer will also help your pocketbook. Gas dryers come with higher up-front cost, but will likely cost less to operate over time. Using gas can cut the cost of drying a load of laundry in half, from 30 to 40 cents with electric to 15 to 20 cents with gas.
The advantages don’t stop there. Gas dryers are also very easy to maintain. As the Minnesota Blue Flame Gas Association puts it, “A gas dryer is almost maintenance-free.” However, when repair is needed, gas dryers can prove more expensive, as they are less common and parts can therefore be more expensive.
Many factors might influence your decision to buy a gas dryer. One critical consideration is that you must have a dedicated gas hook up, so you will have to have a professional install one in your laundry space unless one exists already.
You should also consider size, ease of use, energy efficiency, price, and set-up. There are various types of gas dryers available, including full-size, space-saving, and stackable. Dryers have a range of drum sizes, fitting loads from 5 pounds to 20 pounds. A standard dryer has a width of 27 to 29 inches and a height of 43 inches. A compact dryer, as small as 21 inches wide and 36 inches high, is best for a smaller space.
Whatever your space requirements and drying needs, gas might just be the answer.