There are a lot of ways to heat a home, and the chances are you haven’t thought too much about them. After all, unless you are building your own home, you probably never had much choice. But home heating and cooling generate 17% of Americans’ carbon footprint – more than the rest of our housing emissions combined. And if you live in a cold climate, that number could be even higher. So a home’s heating system should inform your homebuying decisions, and even if you aren’t moving, it might make sense to switch to a more efficient home heating system. Good For most people, home heating is a simple question of a gas furnace (or boiler ) or an electric one. Natural gas is the most common heat source in the United States, used by 49% of homes, while electricity is the second most common, at 34%. The question of which is more efficient is not quite straightforward. An electric furnace may have an annual fuel-utilization-efficiency (AFUE) rating as high as 100%. Gas furnace ratings range from 55% to 97%. But gas furnaces heat homes more quickly, meaning that they don’t need to run as long or as often. […]

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