When you’re building a custom home, chances are the majority of your attention is focused on design. What will the floor plan look like? What couch will fit in your living room? And most importantly, can you get that subway tile for the kitchen?

When you’re so laser-focused on the details, it can be easy to forget some of the bigger picture concerns that can have a major impact on your life. One of those concerns, especially for us here in West Michigan, is heat. If you’ve lived in similar style homes all your life, you may not know that you have different heating options and that they can really affect how your home functions, and how much energy you use.

When winters get really chilly, we need to use more heat to stay warm, and that means more money. In addition to the benefits an energy efficient heating option provides for the environment, the right option can save you a lot of money on those monthly bills.

Luckily, you’re building a custom home. That means you’ve got the power to choose the energy efficient heating option that suits you and your new custom home best. In case you’re just not sure what direction to turn, here’s a breakdown of the top three most energy efficient heating options on the market today.

#1 Forced Air (Furnace)

One of the most common heating options, especially in Michigan, furnaces force warm air throughout a ductwork system in your home. This is popular because it’s easy to control where the heat goes and when. A furnace is handy because it uses the same ductwork as your air conditioner would, so there’s less overall installation — you just put in one HVAC unit and you’re good to go.

When it comes to energy efficiency, furnaces are up at the top. They use natural gas or propane gas, so your bills will fluctuate based on the market value of the gas your unit uses, but the newest models are incredibly efficient. Plus, with a new, well-insulated custom home, you won’t lose any of that hot air.

#2 Boilers

Sometimes also called furnaces, boilers are actually very different from the first, forced air option. Though they can be fueled by gas, they can also run on oil or even electricity. Instead of pushing warm air through ducts, boilers heat up water that then flows through a specific pipe system in your home. The most familiar versions of boiler heating are radiators — both those bulky ones you see in older homes and the ones that go along your baseboards. Today’s most popular boiler heating option is radiant floor heat.

Radiant floor heat consists of a system of pipes that run beneath your floorboards. The hot water from the boiler is pushed through those pipes, where it rises through the rest of your home. This is popular for its energy efficiency, its streamlined look (no need to put ducts in), and the added bonus of toasty warm feet all winter long.

#3 Geothermal Heat

Though less common, geothermal heat had to make this list, because it is the most effective, energy efficient heating method that we currently know of. Solar power might be the only thing that can beat it, but since it’s hard to rely on the sun during a bleak Michigan midwinter, geothermal heat takes the cake.

Geothermal heat can be expensive to install, but the recouped costs in virtually no energy bill can make up for it. Plus, you’re seriously reducing your carbon footprint. Geothermal heating systems actually use the natural warmth of the earth to heat your home. Below the Earth’s surface, the ground remains a relatively stable 50 to 60° F. A geothermal heating system makes use of a web of pipes below the ground — filled with water — that absorb the earth’s heat. Once the water is warm, it’s pumped up above the surface, and into your home, where the heat is collected and distributed to wherever the thermostat tells it.

Though expensive to install, geothermal heat is the most energy efficient option for most homeowners.

But, if you’re not feeling the upfront cost, remember that you still have quality options from boilers and furnaces. Remember, this is your custom home! If you’d like a clean, streamlined open floor plan, a boiler may work best for you. If you’d like to integrate a full HVAC system into your new home, then a furnace is probably best. Either way, so long as you choose a new, energy efficient model, your home will stay warm, and your carbon footprint will remain small.

No matter what option you choose, a quality custom home builder will be able to integrate it seamlessly into your custom home design. If you’re still looking for the right builder in West Michigan, check out Whitmore Custom Homes. We design top-of-the-line custom homes, built exactly for you, and your lifestyle. Give us a call at 616-499-6209, or contact us online today for more information about your new dream home.