How long something continues to work properly and efficiently is practically synonymous with the concept of sustainability. Using durable shopping bags instead of one-use paper or plastic is a simple example of this concept. The more use we get out of things generally points to those things being more sustainable as they don’t have to be replaced as often. That being said, keeping an old, gas guzzling car around isn’t sustainable in a number of ways. And, as long as homes generally last, failing to upgrade the insulation, appliances, windows, etc. is problematic in this sense as well.

However, when you have a system in your home that works efficiently and well for its purpose for decades without the need for repair, that reliability and durability is not only one less thing to worry about, but it is one less thing adding to the waste, embodied energy, etc. that is choking our landfills, and heating up our planet in production and transport.

Motorized fans, heat pump compressors, valves and piping, and many components of forced air heating systems are subject to inevitable failure because of the friction and pressures involved. These systems don’t work if they can’t blow air around, or if they spring even the smallest leak. That tiny leak in a pressurized pipe, for example, represents dangers such as carbon-monoxide poisoning, the risk of fire or explosion, or a release of toxic refrigerants.

Using gas to heat air is a further example of how, even if the system were to last forever, the inefficiency and impacts of burning fossil fuel means the system fails, in the environmental sense, well before it ceases to function. Upgrading to an electric or geothermal solution is the only way to increase the sustainability of your home heating solution in this respect.

On the other hand, far infrared radiant heating is a great example of the type of sustainability associated with a solution that is truly built to last. Because the technology uses no moving parts, it is not only silent and unobtrusive, the opportunities for failure are small. And, since the basic technology used in infrared radiant heat has been around for decades, its durability and sustainability have been proven over and over again in actual use around the world. Finally, since it is converts electricity directly into heat, upgrading the source of the electricity automatically upgrades the system itself.

This is why Ducoterra, maker of the SolaRay II infrared radiant heating panel have established a lifetime warranty. Most people will have to upgrade or replace the insulation in their walls, and install new windows before they have to replace their infrared radiant heating system.

The more we can apply this simple principle of sustainability to how we design and build the things we use every day, the greater the overall sustainability of our society will become. When something works efficiently and effectively for a long time, it’s hard to see the downside.

see also: Part 1: Definition of Terms Part 2: Environmental Impacts | Part 3: Embodied Carbon | Part 4: Installation Impact
Part 5: Operational Emissions