February 12, 2015
Pros and Cons of Crested Butte Heating Systems
Many of my clients looking to purchase a home are surprised by the heating systems typically found in homes and condominiums in Crested Butte. Our mountain environment results in cool summer nights, so very few buildings in Crested Butte have air conditioning- after all, opening the window tends to accomplish the same thing. Whole-house air conditioning will typically use ductwork which can also be used by a furnace heating system, but since we don’t need air conditioning in Crested Butte, other types of heating systems have become popular.
One of the most popular types of heating is radiant in-floor heat, which can take several forms, as discussed below. Other common heating systems include baseboard heat, and of course, the trusty woodburning stove.
Radiant Floor Heating- Slab
If you haven’t experienced in-floor heat, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. There are many advantages to in-floor heat, in all the various forms (more below). For one thing, many homeowners will find that they can dial the thermostat back a couple of degrees because rooms will feel warmer thanks to the heat conducting from the warm floors. This type of heat is very even, with no “cold spots” in areas far from a baseboard heater, for instance. Also, because there are no heat vents or baseboards, furniture can be placed anywhere. Another nice aspect is the drying affect a warm floor will have on wet boots and other items left on the floor.
The major downside to this type of heating system is that it is slow to change temperatures. For a second homeowner keeping the temperature down while away, it may take several hours to heat up after arrival. A call to A property manager before arrival is often all it takes to solve that problem. Some “smart” homes have their thermostat connected to the internet as well, allowing the owner to turn the heat up or down from anywhere. Generally, each room will have its own thermostat.
Radiant Floor Heating- “low mass”
Unlike the slab type above, low mass radiant in-floor heating uses hydronic tubes and reflection above the joists. One way to think of this type is that it replaces the subfloor. This system is easier to install in remodel applications. Another benefit of this type of system is that temperature changes are faster than the slab type of system. The downside? “High mass”, or slab systems, are more efficient, as they lose heat more slowly. Generally, each room will have its own thermostat.
Radiant Floor Heating- Staple-up
This is the simplest and typically least expensive way to get hydronic heat in a house. In this system, the heated water tubes are stapled to the subfloor, sometimes with reflective plates as well. While this system gets some of the benefits of a heated slab, it isn’t the most efficient method of doing in-floor heat. This is because some of the heat is lost under the subfloor.
Radiant Floor Heating- Electric Mesh
This type of heating is most often seen in remodels, typically in bathrooms under new tile. The biggest drawback to this type of heating is that it is fairly expensive and inefficient. That said, a warm bathroom floor is a nice luxury to have, which is why you’ll see it from time to time.
Radiant Ceiling heating
Though uncommon, radiant ceiling panels are found in some buildings in Crested Butte. The next time you’re enjoying a meal at The Gourmet Noodle, look up- those rectangles are the heating system in that restaurant. Some of the benefits of this system include easy furniture placement and no blowing air, but is not the most efficient. After all, hot air rises, so heating the air at the ceiling level of a room is not always ideal, though oone can feel the heat when sitting below one of the heating elements.
Electric Baseboard Heating
Electric baseboard heaters are very common in Crested Butte homes and condos. When electric charges are low, or gas prices are high, electric heat can be competitive. Room temperatures can quickly be raised with baseboard heat as well, which is a nice feature as well. One problem with electric baseboard heat is that drapes and furniture cannot be in contact with the heaters, which can limit the layout of the room. Also, baseboard heaters do not provide the most even heat throughout the living space.
Hot Water Baseboard Heating
This system can be considered a cross between electric baseboard heaters and hydronic in-floor systems. Like in-floor systems, this system can be run with gas, instead of electric. This system is more efficient than electric, and provides a more constant source of heat. Like electric, one must be careful with furniture and drapes.
Forced air provides the quickest heat to a cold room. Simply turn up the thermostat, and the room is quickly warm. Those who suffer from allergies may find that dirty air ducts need to be cleaned from time to time with forced air furnace heating systems. Older systems can be noisy, and it may not be possible to adjust the heat from one room to the next very easily.
Wood burning stoves
Wood burning stoves can provide a tremendous amount of heat in a very short amount of time. Fuelwood gathering permits are quite inexpensive, so for homeowners with the time, this can be a very economical way to heat a home. Some of the drawbacks to wood stoves are the time needed to start a fire, they can be messy, they can easily provide too much heat, and the stove can take up a portion of the room, which can be a concern for smaller spaces. Still, there is nothing quite like a hot fire on a cold winter day. Gas fireplaces are a nice alternative to wood, providing extra heat with just a flick of a switch. Fireplaces tend to provide more ambiance than heat.
There are many different ways to heat a home in Crested Butte and Gunnison, and in many cases a combination of heating systems may make the most sense. Please bear in mind that I am by no means a heating expert, but I do think that this article gives a nice overview of the basic types of Crested Butte heating systems. Buyers may want to investigate heating systems while shopping for Crested Butte properties for sale. Sellers may want to consider heating system and insulation upgrades prior to selling a home in Crested Butte.