When considering whether you should buy a home, heating issues are something you should take a close look at. This is particularly true with rising energy costs.
As you inspect potential homes, heating issues should be foremost in your mind. While obvious issues will be apparent, there are less obvious things that need to be considered.
1. Layout – The layout of a home can have a major impact on both heating issues and energy bills. While high ceilings are beautiful architectural aspects, they can be a huge heating issue. Heat rises, which means you are going to need more of it to warm a home with high ceilings. Always remember that high ceilings equate to high energy bills.
A second layout issue concerns the number of stories in the residence. While a tri-level home or townhouse may seem enticing, how are you going to heat the lower floors? Tri-level homes often have a problem with something I call the zone effect. The rooms on the bottom of the tri-level are always cool, while the top floor may be close to a sauna. Unless you have a very sophisticated heating system, tri-level residences are going to drive your heating bill through the roof.
2. Control Areas – One way to reduce the heating requirements for high ceiling and tri-level homes is a controllable heating system. Many modern heating systems allow you to isolate particular sections of the home you wish to heat. These can be a godsend for larger homes where certain rooms are not used often.
3. Vents – A more mundane, but important issue, are vent locations. In some homes, the vent layout appears to have been undertaken by a drunken sailor. If you find vents located under windows, you can expect the heating bills to be outrageous. Also look for very large rooms with one or no vents as these rooms will take a long time to heat up.
With new homes, one can expect to find heating issues addressed competently. With older homes, you may need to consider how the heating issue is going to sap your cash flow during the winter months.