Air Conditioning and Heating Heat/Energy Values – Heat is energy and when we produce heat we need to use energy in its production. There are natural methods for producing heat without burning or using fuels but these methods are not practical or available to the general populace for residential, commercial, and industrial use. The production heat, whether for residential, commercial, or industrial uses, uses energy and energy costs money. It is thereby necessary to have reliable and proven methods of measuring the amount of heat produced using a specific quantity of energy. Employing these reliable and proven methods we can also use the data to determine the best methods of producing heat for homes, businesses, and industry.
Air Conditioning and Heating Heat/Energy Values
Electric - Electric heating values are constant. The heating value of electric heat is 3.4 Btu/hr per Watt used or 3,400 Btu/hr per Kilowatt of electricity used. Electricity is universally available and used in many geographical areas.
Natural Gas - Natural Gas heating values vary depending on the quality of fuel. The heating value of Natural Gas is 1,000 to 1,100 Btu’s per cubic feet of gas. Natural gas is composed mostly of Methane and a small amount of Ethane. Natural gas is odorless but gas companies add an odorant for safety reasons. The odor is generally compared to a rotten egg smell and if detected should be reported immediately. Natural gas is lighter than air. Natural Gas is generally in wide use in urban and suburban geographical areas. Correction factors for altitude and quality of gas need to be considered for accuracy.
LP Gas - Liquefied Petroleum gas or LP gas heating values vary depending on the quality of fuel. The heating value for LP gas varies between 2,500 to 3,200 Btu’s per cubic foot of gas. LP gas is composed mostly of Propane mixed with a small amount of Butane. Natural gas is odorless but gas companies add an odorant for safety reasons. The odor is generally compared to a rotten egg smell and if detected should be reported immediately. LP gas is heavier than air and can accumulate in basements, crawl spaces, and other low areas where it can be trapped. LP Gas is in limited use in urban and suburban areas but widely used in rural areas because of its portability. Correction factors for altitude and quality of gas need to be considered for accuracy.
Number Two Fuel Oil - Number Two Fuel Oil heating values vary depending on the quality of fuel. The heating value of number two fuel oil is 140,000 Btu’s per gallon. Number Two fuel oil is in limited use in urban and suburban areas but widely used in rural areas because of its portability.
Kerosene - Kerosene heating values vary depending on the quality of fuel. The heating value of Kerosene is 137,000 Btu’s per gallon. Kerosene is in limited use in urban and suburban areas but widely used in rural areas because of its portability.
Fuel Quality and Other Considerations
As noted, heating values will vary depending on the quality of fuel. Electric heat is considered to be 100 percent efficient but the cost of producing heat with electricity can be higher than other methods. The quality of fuel will depend on how much moisture and additives are contained in the fuel. Both moisture and additives affect the Btu heating value of the fuel and most fuels, as noted, contain moisture and additives.
Additionally, altitude plays a role in the production and use of natural gas and propane as the air is thinner. Appliance sizing, including heating and cooling systems, need to be calculated differently for capacity in elevations over 1000 feet. Additional information can be found on our Gas Furnace Facts page.
Heating Efficiency & Fuel Costs
By far, geothermal or water source heat pumps are the most efficient ways of producing heating and cooling for residential and commercial comfort applications. The drawback for geothermal or water source heat pumps is initial installation costs. This initial installation costs of geothermal or water source heat pump is generally cost prohibitive to many homeowners, business owners, and does not allow builders quick turn around unless catering to the upper class.
The second best way of heating is dual fuel air to air heat pumps or air to air heat pumps with gas or oil back-up heat. These systems, with the proper control, allow the user to switch from using the heat pump (under ideal conditions), which uses electricity to generate heat, and using the gas or oil backup for generating heat. This can be accomplished based on market conditions and costs of fuels.
Air Conditioning and Heating Heat/Energy Values - The Cost of Energy & Heating
Concerning the costs of energy as related to producing heat and/or cooling. It is important that one not hyper-focus on costs of fuels relative to producing heat. It is important but one of the most overlooked ways to reduce heating costs is to reduce heat loss of the building. This means eliminating drafts, proper insulation of the structure, duct work integrity for air systems, a timely preventive maintenance and tune-up schedule, and having energy efficient windows and doors.
Air Conditioning and Heating Heat/Energy Values
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