What is the Best Heating System for Lake Tahoe?

by | Sep 26, 2023 | Heating, Heating and Cooling, HVAC, Tahoe Plumbing and Heating Services

Key Takeaways

Ideal heating systems for Lake Tahoe homes:

  • Hydronic Heating: Offers radiant warmth, energy efficiency, and lasting comfort.
  • Dual-Fuel Systems: Combines heat pumps with gas backup for year-round efficiency.
  • High-Efficiency Gas Forced-Air: Provides effective heating with high AFUE ratings.

Check out InMotion Mechanical’s heating services for Truckee and Lake Tahoe homes.

From gas and electric furnaces to radiant heat systems and heat pumps, homeowners have plenty of choices to ensure their homes remain comfortable and cozy when temperatures plummet in the winter. However, some heating systems are better suited to specific regions than others, so not every option makes the cut. 

So, what is the best heating system for Lake Tahoe homes? Let’s find out.

Best Heating Systems for Lake Tahoe Homes

Homeowners can use various heating systems to keep their homes cozy throughout the winter, but some heating systems are better suited to Lake Tahoe conditions than others. Hydronic heating and forced air systems are top contenders for homes in this area.

Hydronic Heating Systems

One of the best heating systems for Lake Tahoe is the hydronic heating system.

A hydronic heating system is a formidable contender in the best heating system competition. These systems are often forgotten and excluded from the limelight, focusing on more widespread heating systems, like forced air systems. 

Of course, each heating system has its place, but these underappreciated marvels can be an exceptional choice for Lake Tahoe homes. Hydronic heating systems, also known as radiant heating systems, employ liquid to warm your home instead of air. 

The systems push the water throughout your home via tubes, resulting in heat radiating throughout your home. Unlike forced air heating systems, radiant heat cannot dissipate through an open door or drafty window. Instead, these systems radiate heat that warms objects in your home, resulting in long-lasting heat that keeps the space cozy and comfortable. 

The workings of these systems make them incredibly energy efficient, allowing homeowners to save up to 40% in energy costs compared to a standard forced-air heating system. This makes them an excellent choice for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint by keeping energy consumption to a minimum. 

How it Works

As the name implies, hydronic heating systems use water or steam (although steam is uncommon in modern homes) to raise the temperature in your home. The boiler heats water and disperses it as a heated liquid or vapor through a network of pipes in your home to radiators throughout the space. If you don’t like the prospect of radiators in your home, you can always choose to incorporate heated baseboards or in-floor radiant heating. 

As the hot liquid travels across your home, it warms the floor, creating a more comfortable underfoot feel. Eventually, the water returns to the boiler for reheating and recycling. Since the system is closed and used water is recycled, it uses minimal water to heat your home. 

Dual-Fuel Gas and Heat Pump Systems

Another one of the best heating systems for Lake Tahoe is a heat pump.

Heat pumps are an outstanding alternative to other heating solutions, as they’re more eco-friendly and can keep your home comfortable year-round. These systems siphon heat and transport it inside or outside your home to maintain a consistent, ideal temperature throughout the seasons. 

Heat pumps don’t burn fuel, instead employing electricity to get the job done. However, given the chilly temperatures Lake Tahoe can face, gas backups are necessary to ensure your home remains cozy year-round. 

On top of that, they’re incredibly energy efficient, as they don’t generate their own heat. Instead, they simply transport heat from one area to another. Because of these factors, heat pumps are an outstanding choice for Lake Tahoe homeowners seeking to minimize their carbon footprint. 

Like some radiant heating systems that use air-to-water or geothermal heat pumps, heat pumps are available in central systems. These setups require a network of ducts that escort heat throughout your home to maintain a consistent temperature. In addition, they’re available as mini-split systems, which are ductless and much smaller. Each option has its merits, but the general benefits remain the same. 

How it Works

While the name may indicate winter use only, heat pumps can work year-round. They move heat in or out of your home based on the season, effectively cooling your home in the summer and warming it in the winter. 

Heat pumps work using the principle of heat transfer. Instead of generating heat, they move it from one area to another. In the winter, heat pumps extract heat from outdoor air and pump it into your home to raise the temperature. 

While this sounds completely ludicrous, as the outdoor winter temperatures in Lake Tahoe aren’t particularly balmy, heat pumps can extract heat from the outside air in surprisingly low temperatures. Standard heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit, although the lowest operating temperature hinges on the model. 

Cold climate heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature dips below these limits, the system can no longer efficiently siphon heat from the outdoor air. We use highly capable cold climate heat pumps, such as the Hyper Heat Mitsubishi heat pump, as we are Diamond Dealers for Mitsubishi. 

However, since the extremes aren’t unheard of, some homeowners may choose to integrate a supplemental heat source to kick in when temperatures dip below operating levels. For example, some may incorporate wood heat with a fireplace to step in when temperatures get too low and enjoy a cozy, crackly ambiance. Of course, gas backups using the same ductwork or radiant tubing can deliver an equally comfy result without burning wood. 

When the temperatures rise in the spring and summer, soaking the area in balmy warmth, heat pumps serve the reverse purpose. Instead of pulling heat from outside, they escort heat from inside your home to the outdoors, effectively cooling the space.  

High-Efficiency Gas Forced-Air Systems

Instead of hydronic heating or heat pumps, some homeowners may choose a high-efficiency gas forced-air system. These systems feature high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 90% or higher, which measures the amount of heat the furnaces siphon from the fuel they use. 

The high percentage of these models makes them an excellent option for those who want to minimize the amount of fuel they use on heating. Unlike heat pumps, these models generate their own heat, ensuring your home is comfortable regardless of the plummeting outdoor temperatures. 

How They Work

Forced-air gas heating systems use natural gas or propane to raise and maintain the temperature in your home at a toasty level. These furnaces are often tucked away out of sight, discreetly hiding in a utility closet, basement, crawl space, or attic. 

Two types of gas furnaces are common in the United States: non-condensing and condensing. Non-condensing models are generally substantially less efficient than their condensing counterparts, as they vent gases out of the home, often through the roof. 

In contrast, condensing gas furnaces offer impressive efficiency percentages using a second heat exchanger. The secondary exchanger heats the air from condensed exhaust gases, allowing the furnace to maximize the heat it produces with the fuel it consumes. 

The system uses natural gas or propane inside its heat exchanger to generate heat. It pulls air from the home’s ductwork over the heated exchanger, raising its temperature as it moves across the warmed surface. The warm air then moves throughout your home via ductwork, ensuring the temperature is comfortable and cozy. 

Contact the Experts for Help With Your Home’s Heating Setup

An efficient heating system is essential to weather Lake Tahoe winters, as chilly temperatures and snow are standard. Our team at InMotion Mechanical can help you ensure your home is ready for the icy grips of winter, whether you want to update your hydronic setup or forced air system.  Let’s get you set up with the best heating system for Lake Tahoe!

Contact us at (530) 210-2275 or (775) 686-3555 to schedule an appointment today!