Heat and Comfort

Soon heavy blankets, warm clothes, and fluffy socks will envelop our bodies to reduce the chill. It is just part of the emotional ease we depend upon as snow and frost arrive to blanket our homes.  We also surrender to dependence on electricity, which offers indoor air quality and thermal comfort for a rather hefty price.  In seeking a home system that is energy-efficient and less expensive, homeowners ask the question, “What else can I do?”

Propane Versus Electric Heat

Of course, homeowners want to cut their electric bill in half.  One option is to change your appliances, specifically, your range, washing machine and dryer, as well as to a tankless water heater and the fireplace to propane. The essence of your heat sources will then cost far less.

  • A standard 330-gallon tank holds a maximum 80% of propane. With a price of $2.29 per gallon of propane and not including a delivery fee and taxes, the cost is $604.56.  Thus, a potential annual investment in propane appliances may cost under $60 a month.
  • Year-round power outages prove homeowners need dependable power. Propane appliances and fireplaces allow families to remain in their homes in comfort and be able to cook meals.
  • Propane appliances use less fuel, cost less, have the durability to last roughly twice as long, and have lower repair costs.
  • Propane heats the air up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while operating in short intervals to minimize cost. An electric heat pump functions below body temperature, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and, from the vent, feels cold.
  • The gallon (the measurement unit of propane) is an understandable measurement rather than kilowatt-hours.
  • As a form of green energy, this gas is non-toxic and cannot spill or leave a residue. Additionally, it is not harmful to soil or water.  (As a safe gas, propane cannot ignite unless the source of air reaches 940 degrees.)
  • One negative is, propane heating systems require a fan to disperse air beyond one room.

What is a Pellet Stove?

Rather than using wood, a pellet stove compresses wood or pellets to create a source of heat.  For those looking for an alternative to removing ash from a wood-burning fireplace, pellets produce only 1% of ash content. As a disadvantage, it requires electricity; therefore, without power, your secondary heat source cannot help you. Pellet stoves require weekly cleaning and to be professionally serviced yearly.  If you desire a quiet heat source, the built-in ventilator and auger motor is quite loud.

The Traditional Wood-Burning Stove

Watching the flames of a fire has been a relaxing and romantic pastime throughout the centuries.  Out of a concern for open fire places and air pollution, self-contained units have been developed to help heat the entire home.  While having logs and wood chips in supply can be an expensive and time-consuming aspect, wood is eco-friendly, in that it does not add carbon dioxide to the environment.  Despite the convenience in pressing a button to turn off a gas fireplace, embers and the outpouring of heat can overpower the members of the household, changing a feeling of comfort to hot.  For the goal of energy independence and savings, wood-burning stoves still are a viable option.

Solar Panels

Harnessing the sun’s radiation as an energy source is a sound idea, especially as homeowners see firsthand the rise of electric costs.  It is a decision that requires research and open conversations with those who have solar photovoltaic panels. You will discover owners love their energy expenses; however, the outstanding initial price tag can deflate interest.


  • Minimizing energy dependence and becoming self-sufficient.
  • Warranties span a 20- or 25-year period.
  • Solar power systems have few maintenance needs.
  • Three months after installation, electric companies offer rebates and incentives.  (Check your insurance company for potential incentives.)
  • Tax credit remains at 30% of the cost of the system; however, in 2020, the residential credit reduces to 26%
  • North Carolina offers state tax credits for solar.


  • Only your tax liability allows you to claim the tax credit and roll across five years.
  • Winston-Salem, for instance, has a shortwave energy per square meter measuring on average above 6.0 kWh, or 66% of the time. Overcast or cloudy days average of 3.3 kWh, or 34% of the time. Knowing your seasonal variations can help you understand why solar energy is an intermittent power source.

In thinking about a substantial means to reduce heating bills before the arrival of winter, the choices of converting to propane appliances, adding a contained stove, or researching solar panels give you viable options to consider.



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photography by JEJ PHOTOS Budget Blinds of North

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