Understanding Your Home’s Energy Systems
Home heating and water heating systems are the largest users of energy in a typical home and can significantly impact home utility bills. By familiarizing yourself with the systems that heat your home and water, you gain greater control over your home’s comfort and energy usage.
Your Co-op is here to help you manage your energy needs. If you have questions, reach out to our team of experts. Together, we can power your home efficiently and sustainably.
Is my heating system electric or natural gas powered?
Do you receive a bill from NorthWestern Energy? If so, this means your home has access to natural gas, and you may have a natural gas-powered heating system. Look for a gas meter or gas lines entering your home, as well as a gas shut-off valve near the heating unit.
If you do NOT receive a bill from NorthWestern Energy, then your heating system is electric (and powered by electricity from Flathead Electric Co-op). Check for electrical wiring leading to individual heating units or a central control panel. Electric heating systems typically lack a gas meter or gas lines.
Types of Electric Heating Systems
Electric baseboard heaters are typically installed along the baseboards of rooms. They work by heating the air directly above them, providing consistent warmth throughout the space.
Electric furnaces use heating elements, similar to those found in toasters, to warm the air. The heated air is then circulated through ductwork and vents to heat your home.
Heat pumps operate by transferring heat from one place to another using refrigerant. They can provide both heating and cooling functions, making them versatile options for climate control.
Types of Natural Gas Heating Systems
Gas furnaces burn natural gas to produce heat. The heat is then circulated throughout the home via ductwork and vents, providing efficient and reliable heating.
Boilers heat water, which is then circulated through pipes to radiators, baseboard heaters, or radiant floor heating systems. Natural gas boilers are known for their effectiveness in providing comfortable warmth.
Radiant Floor Heating
This system involves heating coils installed beneath the floor. Natural gas-powered boilers or electric coils heat the water, which warms the floor surface, providing comfortable, even heat.
How else can we help?
Is my water heater electric or natural gas?
If you do NOT receive a bill from NorthWestern Energy, then your water heating system is electric (and powered by electricity from Flathead Electric Co-op). You can spot an electric water heater by checking for electrical wiring leading to the unit and no gas piping connected to it.
If you DO receive a bill from NorthWestern Energy, this means your home has access to natural gas, and you may have a natural gas water heater. Look for a gas line leading to your water heater and a gas shut-off valve nearby to identify a natural gas water heater.
What type of water heater do I have?
- Tank water heaters store and heat water in a large insulated tank until it’s needed. These are most commonly found in homes.
- Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, eliminating the need for a storage tank.
- Heat pump water heaters are electrically powered and extract heat from the air to heat water. They can be identified by the presence of a heat pump mechanism.
What size is my water heater?
Residential tank water heaters typically range from 40 to 100 gallons. Look for a sticker on the side of your water heater that lists the serial number as well as the capacity (in gallons).