John Ball faces the usual questions as he decides on a heating system for his new home: What system will deliver the best results at the lowest price? What will keep Ball and his wife comfortable in their Canadian locale in Climate Zone 7?
But there’s something else that Ball has to consider: Their new retirement home will be empty during the winter when they’re in Florida escaping the snow and the cold. As they get older, and health care becomes more expensive, they expect to be returning to Canada on a year-round basis.
As a result, Ball explains in Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, he has to plan on two scenarios: one for now, and one for later.
He’s been given a long list of options so far, including a ground-source heat pump with a radiant-floor distribution system, an air-to-water heat pump, an electric resistance water heater or boiler, and an air-source heat pump.
“We are totally confused as to what type of system to install,” he writes. “We are on a restricted budget so solutions like a ground-source heat pump are out, and we do not have access to natural gas. We are looking for a balance between initial system cost and efficiency. Heating is not critical now as we spend our winters in Florida, but as Canadians we will eventually find health care costs prohibitive and need to stay home in winter.”
One particular concern is whether the concrete slab for his slab-on-grade home will feel cold in the winter. Winter usually brings a few days of 35 below zero weather, so he’s considering doubling the amount of rigid foam beneath the slab, from 2 inches to 4 inches.
“We are open to any solution,” he says. “What would you suggest?”
Consider performance in very cold…