Global climate change mitigation requires the fossil fuel consumption substantially reduced. Space heating is an energy-consuming sector. Despite the fact that the thermal efficiency of current space heating systems has achieved a value higher than 85%, corresponding to lower than 40kg c.e./GJ, there is still a big potential for energy conservation. In order to realize the full potential, investigations of heating systems should appeal to reversibility/exergy analysis made on total energy concept basis. This paper starts with an introduction of the concept “reversible mode of heating,” leading the readers think of space heating in terms of reversibility. Right after, a systematic reversibility analysis on a “mine to home” basis is conducted to reveal the impact of any irreversibility of all subsystems or devices involved in the total energy system of heating on the fuel/monetary specific consumption of unit end-use heat. The paper points out that although combined heat and power (CHP) and electrically driven heat pump are both of “reversible mode,” the former is far more favorable in terms of energy conservation. The recently ascent decentralized energy system provides the best circumstances for CHP implementation. The demand-side improvement is a topic of most importance but frequently neglected. This study reveals that, if properly engineered, this improvement together with adopting a direct type of heat grid might lower the fuel specific consumption of end-use heat of CHP to a level as low as 139kg c.e./GJ.

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