Minneapolis Heating System

by Matt Goering

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Few aspects of a home carry more weight in Minneapolis-St. Paul than the heating system. After all, the Twin Cities do claim to be the coldest major metropolitan area in the lower 48. If you're of the opinion that a natural gas forced air furnace is your only option, however, think again. From high-efficiency pellet burning stoves to state-of-the-art active solar heating systems, Twin Cities homeowners have a lot to chose from when it comes to finding the right heating system in Minneapolis. Here's a rundown of your options, including why or why not they might the right choice for you.

A Word About Energy Efficiency and Your Minneapolis Heating System
With a growing environmental consciousness sweeping the nation, as well as skyrocketing fuel prices, energy efficiency is a hot topic when it comes to choosing a heating system in Minneapolis. And from a financial standpoint, choosing an energy-efficient system can save you big money in a climate like Minnesota's where your heating system will run around the clock for a good portion of the year. Whether you choose a greener heating system like active solar heating, or go a more conventional route with a gas fired furnace or boiler, it pays to place energy efficiency at the top of your priority list when you start shopping around.

Minneapolis Heating System: Your Options
With research indicating that 82 percent of Minneapolis homes use natural gas to heat their homes, it's clear that natural gas is king in the Twin Cities. The same study by the NAHB and Wells Fargo indicates that Minneapolis ranks third in the nation when it comes to the cost of heating your home, making it imperative that you find the right heating system in Minneapolis to meet your specific needs. Here's a list of your options.

  • Forced Air Furnace—Forced air furnaces are far and away the most popular heating option in the Twin Cities. If you choose to follow the pack, it's smart to purchase an ENERGY STAR-rated model with an AFUE rating of 90 or higher. Compared to older, less efficient units, these models can reduce the energy costs associated with heating your home by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

  • Boilers—Boiler heating systems in Minneapolis aren't as popular as forced air furnaces, but they're still common across Minneapolis-St. Paul. If you already have a boiler operated system, your best bet is to replace it with a high-efficiency model rather than converting your entire house over to a forced air system.

  • Active Solar Heating—Active solar heating systems in Minneapolis are usually of the liquid variety, and heat your home using a liquid reservoir (usually containing an anti-freeze solution) that circulates to a heat exchanger, which then blows the heat into your home through a forced air system. Active solar systems can also be installed to work with boilers or radiant heating systems. An active solar system costs quite a bit more to install initially, but once installed, your energy costs will be reduced to a minimum. Keep in mind that active solar will only provide 40 to 80 percent of the heat needed to heat your home, so you'll need to install a secondary system to make up the difference (a forced air furnace is most common).

  • Wood and Pellet Fuel Heating—If you're feeling a bit more rustic, a pellet or wood burning heater might be the right choice for you. These units heat your home the old fashioned way, but don't mistake them for an old pot belly stove. High-efficiency wood stoves, pellet burners, and masonry heaters sport efficiency ratings in the 70 to 90 percent range, meaning you'll have to purchase less fuel, and you'll be sending less pollutants out the chimney (a big concern with these heating systems in an area as populated as the Twin Cities).

    Minneapolis Heating System Installation
    Proper sizing and installation is just as important as purchasing an energy-efficient heating system if you want to cut energy costs. Improperly sized units waste energy by turning off and on too often, or running around the clock, depending on the miscalculation. Add to that the fact that an improperly installed unit can negate any energy savings altogether, and it's easy to see why it's important that you and contractor know what you're doing. Be sure to talk to a contractor who understands the intricacies of installing the heating system of your choice. You want them to make sure your new heating system is in peak condition when it comes to comfortably, and efficiently, heating your Twin Cities-area home.

    Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.