Wondering about the best way to stay warm this winter? Using the right type of home heating system can help you save energy and ease the burden of high utility bills. Some heating systems can also double as a cooling system in the summer, saving you money all year round.
The term HVAC – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – is used to describe the overall climate control system in a home. What kind of HVAC system are you using? How does it work? And is it the best way to heat your home? Here are five of the most common home heating systems, how they work, and the pros and cons of each.
By far the most common HVAC system in North America, a furnace is a forced air distribution system powered by natural gas, fuel oil or electricity. It functions by using a blower fan and distributing heat evenly through a network of ducts that lead to individual heating registers around your home.
Furnaces provide an efficient, effective, and relatively low-cost way to heat your home. It’s easy to manage the temperature and they can double as an air-conditioning system in the summer months. While furnaces are relatively inexpensive, they require the installation of ductwork which takes up space within your walls, and the blower fan can be loud.
Heat pumps can provide an effective, more contemporary way to heat your home, depending on the climate you live in. The newest in-home heating system technology, a heat pump works in a similar way to an air conditioner. It uses a small outdoor compressor unit to extract heat from the air and distribute it throughout your home via indoor air handlers.
A heat pump can deliver more energy than it consumes, making it an energy efficient option – but they work best in relatively mild climates. If the temperature outside consistently falls below freezing, the outside unit can become frozen and require a defrost, and the system may not be able to generate enough heat to keep you warm.
Although they’re not as popular these days, boilers are a tried and tested effective heating system. Boilers operate by carrying hot water through pipes and distributing it throughout your home. The central boiler, which stores the hot water to be circulated, can be powered by natural gas, propane or electricity.
What sets the boiler system apart is its ability to heat the floor and objects in the home, rather than just the air, providing more consistent heating. It provides comfortable heat that doesn’t dry the air like other heating systems. If your home wasn’t built with a system already installed, installing the piping can be expensive, and a boiler doesn’t double as a cooling system in the summer.
Electric baseboard heaters can be an effective and affordable choice. Although not commonly used as a primary heating system in larger homes, they remain a popular choice for supplemental heating or smaller spaces, like condos or townhomes.
Electric heaters are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive. They are extremely versatile, can be installed almost anywhere, and require very little maintenance. Depending on where you live and how often you have it turned on, you might see a significant rise in your electricity bill, as these systems take a lot of electricity to run.
Radiant heating sends hot water or electric heat through tubes located within the floor. Most heat is moved through water tubing installed inside concrete slab floors or attached to the top or bottom of wood floors. This heat can be generated by oil, gas, propane or electricity.
While they can be slow to heat up or adjust to temperature changes, in-floor radiant heating systems are energy efficient and provide consistent comfort to every area of your home. If problems occur, it can be difficult to access hidden piping and will likely require lifting up the floor to fix.
Understanding the types of home heating systems and how they work can help you make the best decision about how to heat your home, or decide which system you’d prefer if you’re searching for a new home. Choosing a replacement heating system can be a big decision. At Ashton plumbing, heating, and air, we’re here to help! Give us a call to assess your home heating needs and we’ll help select the right HVAC system for you.