Small House Heating Options
While the average square footage of a house has increased dramatically over the past four or five decades, not everyone wants or needs a large home—some are interested in micro spaces. In fact, the "tiny house movement" trend continues to grow. While most people aren't interested in trying to live in 100-400 square feet, minimalism has been trending and it has people rethinking what they need in a home. Building a smaller home will save money and meeting its heating needs is just one area where the savings may be passed on. Here is a look at the heating options to consider.
How Are Most Homes Heated?
The average home is heated either with a boiler system or a furnace. A boiler system distributes hot water through tubing or radiators to heat rooms while a furnace distributes hot air through duct work. Furnaces are more popular nowadays as people typically install central air conditioning when they build a new home. In order for central air conditioning to work, it must have ducts. A home that is smaller than average, such as 800-1,000 square feet, isn't going to necessarily need a large boiler or furnace and central air, though.
Consider Single Point Source Heating
Homes with small footprints, especially if they have an open floor plan, can easily be heated without duct work if central air conditioning isn't needed. There are three main options.
- Wood Stove—The right size wood stove that is centrally located can easily heat a small home. But while a wood stove can be warm and cozy, there can be too much of a good thing. A wood stove is harder to control, and the house can become too warm. Heating with wood means you also need a continual supply of dried hardwood nearby. This is a relatively inexpensive way of heating, but it is messy. It also requires steady feeding if you don't want to wake up to a cold house.
- Pellet Stove—A pellet stove uses compressed wood pellets rather than logs to provide heat. As such, it doesn't need a chimney as a wood stove does and instead has a simple external vent. A pellet stove is less mess, and the stove can be programmed to allow pellets to feed from a hopper. This means you don't need to worry about the fire going out. A pellet stove still requires regular cleaning and ash removal, though.
- Direct Vent Gas Heater—A direct vent gas heater is ideal if you don't want the mess of wood or pellets and/or you don't have the room for a stove. This type of heat source isn't much larger than a suitcase and only takes up wall space. It can be used with natural gas, propane, or even kerosene.
If you are building a smaller home, talk with a heating installation contractor before building begins. They will be able to recommend the best, most cost-effective system for your needs.