If you're investing in a new furnace and you want to be as environmentally friendly as possible, there are several things you can do. You can improve the insulation in your home, you can invest in an Energy Star furnace, and you can use a programmable thermostat. In addition to that, you may want to think about how your furnace is powered, and you may want to opt for a furnace that can be powered by the resources that are the most abundant in your area.
1. Natural Gas
Natural gas is found in deposits under the earth, and it comes to your home through a network of gas pipes. If natural gas is available in your area, you may want to consider it. Many people prefer oil-based heating to electric heaters.
If you don't like the idea of gas travelling to you over lots of pipelines, you may only want to choose natural gas if there's a lot of it harvested in your area — that way, the gas doesn't have far to travel. As of 2015, the states with the highest levels of natural gas production are Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Louisiana. If your home is not served by natural gas and you're interested in a gas powered furnace, you may want to look into the propane network in your area. Propane is produced from petroleum and natural gas, and it is delivered to homes in trucks.
You can use wood to power wood burning furnaces or wood-burning boilers. If you opt for the latter, you can even combine your hot water tank with your home's heating system. Wood burning furnaces and boilers can be labor intensive if you cut down all the wood yourself and load the furnace by yourself. However, these units don't necessarily have to be labor intensive. You can buy large cords of wood that other people have cut down, and you can get hoppers that you simply load intermittently as needed, and they load your furnace.
Wood can be great as a fuel source. It's relatively carbon neutral, meaning that a dead tree releases about the same amount of carbon while rotting in a forest as it does burning in your furnace. However, if you live far away from trees and your wood needs to be trucked to you, that can increase your carbon footprint. Because of that, you may want to consider wood-burning furnaces in heavily wooded areas. In the United States, the areas with the most forests include Alaska, Oregon, California, Georgia, and Alabama. However, even if your state is not in the top five, you may still have ample forests around. For example, Montana has well over 19 million acres of forest and Colorado has 24.4 million acres of forest and woodlands.
3. Solar Power
If you want to take an environmentally friendly approach, you may also want to combine solar power with the above ideas or reduce your electricity consumption by pairing solar panels with your electric heater. The states that are the most hospitable to solar power include California, Hawaii, Arizona, Maryland, and Delaware. However, even if your state is not in the top five, it may still offer enough sunlight to make the installation of solar panels worth it.
Solar panels aren't the only option. You can also get special heating systems that are designed to run on solar power. For example, you can also utilize passive solar techniques where the sunlight is absorbed by an object that releases the heat slowly in the air throughout the day.
To learn more about which fuels are the most abundant in your area, talk with a furnace installer, such as those at Sullivan Super Service, directly. They can help you choose the furnace that makes the least environmental impact based on the resources in your area.